If you take a look at recent headlines, our environmental outlook seems grim. There is climate change and carbon to contend with, plastic panic, and the staggering scale of our pollution problem.
ClimateWorks Australia, a subsidiary of Monash University, has stated if Australia is to avoid the ravages of global warming, the whole country must be carbon neutral by 2050. The consensus is clear: something has to change. But how we get there? Not so much.
Local businesses play a crucial role in making carbon-neutral status a reality in Australia. While the actions and practices of giant operators shouldn’t be underestimated, businesses of all sizes have a responsibility to their community (think of it as a ‘social licence to operate’).
After five years of carbon-neutral parcel delivery for Aussie small business, we’ve picked up a tip or two for small businesses looking to ‘go green’.
The benefits of going green
Becoming carbon neutral isn’t just good for the planet, it’s also good business sense. Recent research from the University of New South Wales has shown promoting sustainability fosters economic development for small businesses.
‘Conscious consumption’ is on the rise — a movement of consumers looking to solve the negative impact of consumerism on our world through favouring ethical, sustainable brands. These consumers are more educated than ever on where products come from, what they’re made of and how they arrived at their door. They are clued up on the potentially detrimental effects of the purchases they make, not to mention more aware of corporates’ decisions that prioritise profiteering over long-term environmental sustainability.
For small businesses, this means there’s huge potential to grow their customer base. It also means core customers will become raving fans because social, eco and ethical values make a business stand out from the pack. On the flipside, those who don’t go green may experience disloyalty. A study by Echo Global revealed 90% of worldwide shoppers said they would switch to a brand that supported a good cause.
Acting today also helps small operators to safeguard against government policy, which can be fickle. If (or when) a price is placed on carbon in Australia, businesses who have already factored carbon neutrality won’t have to deal with sudden price changes they haven’t accounted for.
Advice for small businesses considering the switch to green
So where do you start?
Sustainable packaging, delivery and production, as well as the supply chain, are all parts of the puzzle.
1. Think across your supply chain
You may sell an eco-friendly shampoo, but does it reach the hands of the customer completely untouched, without environmental consequence?
Think about all steps along your supply chain and do the research to ensure you’re working with sustainable companies during production, packaging, design, distribution and delivery.
Partner with organisations that ‘get you’. It goes well beyond delivering a parcel, right down to the vision and purpose of the organisation.
2. Shout it from the rooftops
Studies show people will actually go the extra mile to purchase from companies that make a concerted effort to do good.
In fact, one such study states: “The average consumer drives 11 minutes out of their way now to buy a cause-marketing product.” So, tell the world that you’re proudly carbon-neutral, plastic-free and locally produced on your website, social media pages, branding and shopfront.
3. Involve your customers
Don’t use sustainable business as a blanket term. Tell your customers exactly how you are being green and what goes on behind closed doors. Our customers are always interested to hear about the details of our carbon-offsetting projects.
In this day and age, as consumer expectations shift, going green is good for business. But beyond that, as business owners, we have an opportunity to create real, lasting, change.
Will you join us?
You can help us (and help yourself)
Small and medium businesses and startups have never needed credible, independent journalism and information more than now.
That’s our job at SmartCompany: to keep you informed with the news, interviews and analysis you need to manage your way through this unprecedented crisis.
Now, there’s a way you can help us keep doing this: by becoming a SmartCompany supporter.
Even a small contribution will help us to keep doing the journalism that keeps Australia’s entrepreneurs informed.