Is your small business committed to sustainability?

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Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

We observe a lot of bad environmental practices among people whether pedestrians, motorists or residents. Motorists throw cigarette butts out of their windows in your community, pedestrians chuck takeaway packaging onto the pavement and residents leave rubbish and rubble outside their premises.

You take a walk along the Braamfontein Spruit in Delta Park and you see rubbish such as plastic bags and plastic bottles strewn all over the place. There’s no one to pick it up. Rubbish lies on pristine grasslands and chokes the river. Do people care?

A tiny band of people with an environmental awareness and conscience arrange cleanups on the weekends and encourage others to do so. What impact can their efforts make when the will of the majority rules? Drivers of commercial vehicles have the excuse that it helps to create jobs? Can you believe it?

Kilometres before towns you see plastic bags and other rubbish littered on both sides of the road. Last year driving in and out of Kimberley and then Upington it was the same. Filth desecrating pristine African grasslands.

What about small businesses whether kitchen-table entrepreneurs or small enterprises?

Well, it’s not easy to answer. Many small business owners are trying to reduce their waste and consumption of natural resources. However, just take a look around and you will see those small businesses that dispose of their waste in public spaces because they don’t want to pay the municipality for a waste collection fee. Detergents are dumped in waterways and oils are drained into the stormwater system. Broken exhaust systems belch noxious gases into the atmosphere.

A responsible attitude towards the environment requires that a small business owner does a survey of their waste and consumption of natural resources. Then the owner should work with their staff to determine how they are going to reduce waste and use of natural resources.

The survey can go much further than this such as substitution of materials that are less harmful to the environment. Sometimes it’s good to get in an outsider who can assist you with your waste and carbon footprint and make recommendations. Of course, it depends on the size and nature of your business.

But I can sense entrepreneurs reading this growing uncomfortable with added costs to their business. That’s one way of looking at it. The other ways to see it as an investment in your business reputation and credibility in the marketplace. You will gain admiration and support from your customers and may even attract new customers because of your environmentally friendly practices.

A word of caution — don’t make a song and dance about what you were doing until you have implemented sound environmentally friendly practices. Make sure that they are substantial rather than superficial. You see small business that say they are environmentally friendly but all they’ve done is to change their packaging but when you go look outside in their dustbins their rubbish will tell a different story.

Farsighted businesses are approaching sustainable practices in a genuine way because they understand the benefits of reducing their impact on the environment, improving their image, reducing costs, attracting right-minded employees and providing competitive advantage.

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