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Toronto, ON M5E 1S3
Want to improve your small business’ sustainability but not sure where to start?
Here are 10 easy tips that can be used to make your business more sustainable, regardless of what industry you’re in:
Keep reading for more details on each suggestion for how to run your business more sustainably.
We know you’re excited and eager to start making positive changes, but don’t let that enthusiasm lead to unnecessary waste.
One common mistake that people make when trying to improve their sustainability is to throw out or otherwise waste the less environmentally friendly products they already have.
For example, people may throw out plastic single-use pens without using them, throw out plastic-packaged foods, or bag up all their H&M clothes and head out to buy new ones.
While well intentioned, that eagerness to start doing better can sometimes lead to wasteful behaviors. And remember: waste is one of the natural enemies of sustainability and leading a more eco-conscious lifestyle!
So, first and foremost, use up what you already have before making any low-waste or eco-conscious swaps.
Whether you own a restaurant or a law firm, chances are you have plastic pens, markers, and similar writing utensils in the drawers of your store or office.
Unfortunately, most of these items were intended to be single-use and are not refillable, nor are they typically recyclable by mainstream government-run recycling programs. This means that most of these single-use items end up in the garbage.
The good news, however, is that Terracycle has partnered with Staples to provide Canadians with a free, convenient means of keeping these old writing utensils out of our landfills.
How does it work? Basically, all you need to do is save up your old plastic pens, markers, mechanical pencils, and highlighters, then drop them off at a participating Staples store near you. If you go to the Terracycle page here, you can enter your postal code to find the nearest participating store near you. (Just be sure to double-check with your local store whether there are any pauses to their program in the face of COVID-19.)
And, circling back to Tip #1, just be sure to use up the pens, pencils, and highlighters you already have before dropping them off to be recycled!
Once you’ve used up all your single-use plastic writing implements and dropped them off to be properly recycled, another easy step you can take towards running a more sustainable business is to choose a better product next time.
Instead of buying more single-use, plastic products, try to find more sustainable, eco-friendly, responsibly made products.
For example, look for products made from paper, bamboo, or recycled materials, that come packaged in recycled (and recyclable!) materials, or that are refillable or have very long lifespans.
Here are some specific products you might want to consider:
Chances are, there are local stationery shops, pen shops, gift shops, and low waste stores in your area that carry similar items, so be sure to check there first (to support other local businesses).
But even big players (like Staples and the U of T Bookstore) carry more sustainable choices. Just be sure to read the labels on the “eco-friendly” products you come across, as not all products labelled as “green” are better choices!
All that paper (and the plastic it comes in!) adds up.
Next time you need to run out to pick up some bathroom tissue for your small business’ brick-and-mortar store or office, consider choosing one of these more sustainable alternatives:
You may also want to consider stocking up on toilet paper in bulk, which is both better for the environment and for your wallet.
Instead of using liquid hand soaps and hand soap refills that come in plastic bottles or bags, you can consider some of the following lower-waste swaps:
If you prefer liquid detergents, you can save your current plastic dispensers and refill them with liquid soaps purchased in bulk from stores like Saponetti or Bare Market.
And, of course, there are other, similar refill spots throughout the city, so feel free to check with your local low-waste or eco-conscious shop to see what they have in stock!
Regardless of whether you operate a service-based office or a product-based storefront or restaurant, chances are there are steps you can take to reduce your paper waste.
If you think it would be possible to implement multiple ways of reducing paper waste, you may still find that it’s easier for you and your staff (and your customers) to adapt by making one change at a time.
Alternatively, if you feel comfortable, go ahead and make multiple changes at once, and, where possible, try to give your customers and staff some notice about the upcoming changes. This will give you time to address any questions or concerns and prepare everyone for a more sustainable workplace.
Going on “coffee runs” has been an office and workplace tradition for some pretty legit reasons:
However, if you’re grabbing one or two disposable coffee cups in a day, that can really add up.
So, next time you and your coworkers have a hankering for that afternoon coffee, consider some of these tips:
Regardless of which of these tips you choose to implement, every change is a step in the right direction.
We know — having bottled water on hand is super convenient both for you and your customers.
However, there are likely ways for you to reduce or eliminate your reliance on plastic, single-use bottles of water.
And, if having bottled water on hand is absolutely necessary for your business, you can consider switching to a glass-bottled brand (instead of using the plastic kind).
Even if you don’t run a restaurant or grocery store, all that lunchtime and snacktime food waste adds up.
Here are some tips for cutting back on your small business’ food waste:
Again, every little change makes a difference, so don’t feel pressured to tackle too many items at once.
As the saying goes, “knowledge is power”! The more you and your team know about what’s going on with our planet and what you can do to help, the better equipped you are to make positive changes.
Here are some tips for how you can keep yourself and your team informed:
And, of course, don’t be afraid to ask questions or start a conversation! Whether it’s with an Instagram account you follow, your team, or a member of your local BIA, most people will welcome the opportunity to chat about environmental concerns and work with you to help you find the best ways to improve the sustainability of your business.
At the end of the day, everyone has to start somewhere and all those baby steps in the right direction add up.
So, don’t feel pressured to make a bunch of changes all at once — you can always start by picking one thing from a time off this list.
And, no matter what, don’t let any setbacks or hiccups freak you out! Changing habits and deeply-entrenched ways of thinking both take time. So, there’s no need to feel ashamed if you find yourself struggling to make these changes or find old behaviours popping up again.
Just forgive yourself and keep at it.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions, voice your frustrations, or share your setbacks — whether with us or with other members of your eco-conscious community. You’re not alone in this journey, and we celebrate your desire to do better.
For more small business guides and resources, you can check out our blog here.
Or, for a free, no obligation consultation for our sustainable proofreading and editing services, you can get in touch with us here.