Five steps towards a more sustainable small business

Making significant and sustainable changes may seem daunting for small businesses low on time, budget and resources, but it's now more accessible than ever.

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Going greener can help your small business reduce costs, become more resilient, and make lasting positive impacts now and in the future – locally and globally.

It can help you attract more customers too. Consumers want to make more sustainable business choices, and according to recent research, 61% of Australians say the sustainability actions of a company or brand influences whether they buy a product. They’re looking at companies that care about their carbon footprint and share their concerns about the future of the planet.

Making significant changes may seem daunting for small businesses that are low on time, tight on budgets and have limited resources. But sustainable tools and technology are more accessible than ever.

Here are five steps you can start taking today.

1. Choose your suppliers and partners wisely

Start by examining your supply chain and business partners – see how they stack up against a sustainability checklist that suits the needs of your business. For example, do they use sustainable materials? Do they have any environmental initiatives? Do they make efforts to recycle?

You don’t need to make sweeping changes – every small choice can have a big impact. For example, if you switch to using more local product suppliers you could reduce the carbon emissions of your logistics and could also improve delivery turnaround times. Ask questions about how your products and materials are made – look for suppliers who focus on sourcing sustainably and producing materials ethically with fair wages.

2. Reduce your usage

It can be easier to reduce your water and energy usage than you might think – just make a few changes or build some new habits.

Switching to water-efficient faucets will help save water every time someone touches the tap – and while you’re installing these, check for water leaks or dripping taps. Leaks are wasting water 24 hours a day.

Did you know standby power makes up around 10% of your power bill? Lower standby power consumption by turning appliances off at the wall when they are not in use or before closing for the day.

Encourage everyone in your team to turn off the lights when leaving a room, only switch on a fully loaded dishwasher, and unplug phone chargers when they’re not in use. No matter how small, these changes will add up to something great.

And if your budget – and rooftop – allows AGL’s solar systems can help you set up your own mini power station. Producing your own solar energy directly offsets the energy you consume from the grid, reducing your power bills as a result – relieving pressure on the planet and your wallet at the same time.

To address your overall emissions from your energy usage, you can swap to AGL’s carbon neutral gas or electricity plans certified by Climate Active. They help offset carbon emissions associated with the energy supplied to and used by your business and support local and international projects that deliver real benefits for the planet.

3. Shine brighter with LEDs

Light up your business premises with a greener option: LED. They’re up to 80% more energy-efficient than a traditional light bulb, and last longer so you’ll also save time and money replacing bulbs in the future. That’s a simple fix to immediately lower your energy consumption.

AGL’s LED product range is certified carbon neutral by Climate Active, and we can help with complete business lighting system upgrades. Your business may even be eligible for a government rebate or grant.

4. Go paperless and embrace the cloud

Who really needs paper files these days? Digital technology helps you stay more organised, saves money on printing and paper costs – especially as the cost of paper keeps growing.

Moving your workload into the cloud, instead of using traditional data centre server storage, also reduces your business’ waste and carbon emissions.

A recent study found using the cloud is 93% more energy-efficient and produces 98% fewer carbon emissions.

There are plenty of cloud-based platforms and apps to support everything your business needs, from Genius Scan to help you upload documents or receipts from a snap on your smartphone, to cloud-based accounting systems like Xero and file storage like OneDrive or Google Drive. And they also allow you and your team to work from anywhere and still access the information you need to keep your business humming.

5. Reduce waste

Almost one-third of Australia’s small and medium businesses have already adopted more sustainable packaging practices, using recyclable or reusable packaging. So if you haven’t already made the switch, look for FSC-certified products and make sure any plastics are made from recycled materials where possible.

Within your business, look for opportunities to upcycle or recycle – from mobile phones and old computers to fire extinguishers, gas bottles or polystyrene. Local recycling centres may collect these from your premises, so schedule this into your business operating cycle.

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How AGL can help

Whether you’re making, selling, showing, or growing, we can help you take the steps towards a more sustainable business. To future proof your small business and help look after the planet, learn more about our sustainable energy solutions.

Learn more