Ideas: 11 ways to be more eco friendly as a small business
One of the things I realised is that as a small business, I can’t save the world, but I can definitely reduce the impact that I have – as my business is still small, I have the option to make conscious choices about the stuff I do and things I put out into the world – no-one is making decisions for me, and although in some instances that is terrifying, in terms of eco-friendliness it’s actually a great thing!
If you’re just starting a small business or have one but want to up your green credentials, I’ve had a little think about 11 ways to help do this – I hope you find them useful!
If you’re not a business owner but are having a browse of this blog post, hopefully you can take away some ideas as to what you want the businesses you buy from to do and support those that try and reduce their impact on our planet (like Tumble and Rose! :D)
In no particular order…every little helps!
- Use existing postal services when sending your orders – by this I mean Royal Mail and other national post networks rather than couriers. We all know petrol and diesel emissions from cars and vans are bad, right? (If not, maybe this post isn’t the best place for you to start your eco journey – drop me a note and I can send some articles your way). Royal Mail have an infrastructure in place that means your postman is probably going past your house on any given day anyway, so an extra little parcel in his bag won’t make a difference – an old courier van zooming around the neighbourhood when it wouldn’t normally be there however is a different story! [I’d be super interested to see if anyone has any stats on the impact of things like Prime etc…]
- Use recycled and recyclable packaging. By this I also mean no plastic. Use little mailer boxes rather than bags, use eco flow or shredded paper rather than bubble wrap. Repurpose packaging from your own parcels if you can! Boxes also go a long way to protecting your items during shipping, so it’s a win win.
- Think about whether you really need to include order details in your shipment. Do you really need to print off an invoice onto paper that customers have probably been emailed anyway? There are some instances where it’s necessary, but for the most part I try to avoid it to save on paper.
- More of a fun one - do more markets! Customers can find you in person instead of ordering online, meaning you cut out the shipping issue altogether and you actually get to talk to your customers face to face. Obviously this isn’t possible for every single location, but it’s really nice to actually be able to show off your product in person. I’ve actually made quite a few friends with people who were looking at my rings but came to check them out in person. Also, they’re usually quite a fun day out and you get to meet other small makers.
- Use paper bags at the markets to give people their purchases, or even better, ask if they even need a bag at all. This cuts out the need for those awful thin plastic bags and stops them reaching the ocean.
- Always support other small businesses – source your packaging from them, raw materials etc. This is because, like you, they probably don’t have massively damaging infrastructure in place, and I like to think it puts good out into the world – remember how happy you are when you get an order? They are too!
- Know your supply chain/suppliers. This one is really important and often overlooked. I am on first name terms with pretty much all of my suppliers – it’s how I can guarantee there’s no shady practice going on and I know what to expect. It also is just quite nice to know you’ve got this little network of real people out there in the world making your idea a reality.
- Know what goes in your products. Are your raw materials really what you think they are? Are they vegan? Is there any cruelty involved in the process? You can’t claim to be eco-friendly if you don’t know the answers to these questions, and ignorance isn’t an excuse. My crystals are sourced directly from the miners, and most of my other materials are recycled. They’re all vegan.
- Get your flyers/business cards from sustainable sources and suppliers that use eco-friendly ink. You might think it’s a small thing, but it’s best to be on the right side of it.
- Where possible, make something yourself, or if not find local suppliers. One of the reasons that I am not making any more pin designs is that I can’t justify the air miles associated with them and the emissions factories creating them are likely to put out, so once my current pins are sold out, that’s it. I get my patches produced by a UK manufacturer and everything else I make by hand in my studio. Where I have to source from abroad (opals aren’t mined in Southampton…) I group my purchases so that they’re not frequently making trips on a plane.
- Finally, talk about it! One of the best things you can do is keep stuff like this on the agenda and urge other little businesses to do the same – who knows, one day maybe the big ones will follow suit!
- Helen xo