If the first rule of business is to ‘stay in business’, surely a long-term business strategy goes hand-in-hand with accountability to the environment, thereby creating a sustainable future for all?
You’d be hard pushed to find anyone these days who isn’t just aware of the sobering reality of the climate crisis, but who also acts in a conscious way to help the environment in their day-to-day lives.
And there shouldn’t be an exception in business. In Britain, almost a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions (18 percent) come from businesses. As a business owner, there’s a responsibility for that footprint, and the contribution it makes to the economy.
This is particularly true when it comes to purchase orders. The purchase order process takes into consideration suppliers, transportation and paperwork. It’s one thing to make ethical choices within your own four walls, but it’s another to choose to work with suppliers that share the same beliefs and hold themselves accountable, too.
Awareness of action, knowledge of options
We know what you’re thinking. That is all well and good. But where do you even start with making the changes to make a difference?
Ethical sourcing will enhance your brand reputation and limit operational risks. If businesses were to develop ethical habits, this would lead to ethical processes, which will eventually evolve into an ethical sourcing mindset across the industry.
The responsibility extends beyond the process of sourcing ‘greener’ products or services. It also involves the building of better relationships with suppliers and engaging with and evaluating a market that has sustainability at its core. All business transactions should be played out at a high level of social awareness and responsibility.
What’s more, a company using ‘greener’ purchase orders can maximise their efforts with marketing tactics. Showing the world that you source ethically makes you stand out from those that are not. It gives you a competitive advantage, while setting a good example to others.
Partner with like-minded suppliers
The best place to start is with the suppliers you use. Find a comfy seat, grab a cup of something tasty and evaluate your supply chain. Choose to work in tandem with like-minded companies who adopt a sustainable approach.
There has been an 80 percent increase in income from businesses carbon offsetting over the last 18 months. Ethical sourcing is especially crucial as supply chains expand further into the developing world, seeking lower costs and faster production capacity.
A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases made to compensate emissions produced elsewhere. You can set a partnership with suppliers to offset your carbon footprint or source suppliers who offset theirs. Using a collective energy of community over competition will pave the way to making a difference that will last.
Look out for the tree lovers
Do some research on suppliers who plant trees, grow organically, or who try to be plastic- free. Work with those who use sustainable materials. Simply, do a bit of research on what your industry is doing and how to join in. This will help to choose more consciously.
Ensure transparency with suppliers
It’s important to react when you see disconnects within your suppliers’ departments that could lead to waste. If they appear to have an ineffective procedure or make too many mistakes, this can cause confusion between supply and demand.
Become a B-Corp
UK B-Corps which had been certified for at least two years were growing at an average rate of 14 percent per annum. The B-Corporation is a community of people using business for good. Those holding a certification are required to consider the impact their business decisions have on the environment while helping them to grow.
‘Each step towards the B-Corp goal was valuable in itself because all their recommendations are pointing in a direction that aligns with our own aspirations to build a better business. Nor is getting certified the end of the journey. For example, we initiated our carbon neutral policy after we got our certificate. The B Corp certifications help us to organise and measure our work for the benefit or our employees, our communities and the environment. It’s not so much a test to pass, as a compass to guide us.'- Matthew Stibbe, CEO Articulate Marketing
Digitise admin processes
“Do you recycle?” doesn’t begin to cut it anymore. Everyone now knows their way around the paper and the plastic bin on their way to the kitchen. But really, businesses should be looking to reduce purchase order paperwork at the office by digitising admin processes.
Technology like Turbine helps to reduce the environmental impact of purchase orders by removing the need for paper. It reduces waste, speeds up the approval stage, and saves the most precious commodity of them all – time. Not to mention, Turbine makes tedious admin less, well… tedious.
Aim for zero waste to landfill
The overall goal is to make sure that any waste material produced by organisations will not end up in landfill sites. The Carbon Trust Standard for Zero Waste to Landfill recognises organisations and businesses that take a best practice approach to waste management.
It is a certification that validates a real achievement in proactively recovering, reusing or recycling waste.
Make yourself heard
In the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, almost 40 percent of respondents believe that the goal of a business should be to ‘improve society’. People want to work for, buy from and invest in companies that have an ethical mindset.
Let your audience (and your competitors) know about your ethical sourcing principles. Put it on social media, write blogs about it, add your B-Corp and zero waste certificates to your website, and shout it from the roof!
It’s difficult to know where to start when it comes to green business. But the very fact you’re thinking about it is a positive step in the right direction. Impact is made through significant changes, but it’s more common to see results through small, iterative improvements. Partnering with like-minded suppliers, looking at processes that can be digitised, and actively committing to pursuing a sustainable future show that it is possible to pursue business goals and help to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our world.