Thinking Capital is now DRIVENtm... Learn more.
Thinking Capital is now DRIVENtm... Learn more.
Thinking Capital is now DRIVENtmLearn more.
Thinking Capital is now DRIVENtmLearn more.
The balance magazine/

5 Sustainable Practices Every Canadian Small Business Can Implement

5 Sustainable Practices Every Canadian Small Business Can Implement
April 11, 2024

In a world that’s becoming increasingly mindful of environmental concerns, small businesses are positioned to make a significant impact through sustainable practices. By cultivating eco-conscious operations, small businesses can demonstrate a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint, engage customers in meaningful ways, and contribute to a more sustainable future for their communities. With this in mind, here are five achievable and actionable steps for Canadian small businesses to embed sustainability into their daily operations.

1. Making the Switch to Renewable Energy

The choice of energy sources directly affects a business’s environmental impact. While large corporations can often afford to invest in complex renewable energy systems, small businesses can make notable strides with simpler, yet effective alternatives. Local utilities and sustainable energy vendors in Canada offer accessible options for purchasing green energy. From wind power to solar credits, small business owners can readily transition to renewable sources, often with little to no equipment investment. Beyond purchasing green power, consider energy-efficient upgrades like LED lighting and Energy Star-certified appliances to reduce overall electricity demand.

2. Implementing a Robust Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Policy

A Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (3Rs) policy is a foundational practice for businesses aiming to minimize waste. It starts with a comprehensive audit of your business’s waste stream to identify opportunities for reduction. Encourage the reuse of office supplies and consider packaging alternatives to reduce the use of single-use plastics. Introducing a robust recycling program, coupled with employee education, can significantly reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. Canadian businesses can also tap into municipal programs and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes to responsibly manage their waste.

3. Prioritizing Sustainable Sourcing

The materials and products businesses choose to work with have a sizable environmental footprint. Small businesses should prioritize sourcing from ethical and sustainable suppliers. Look for Canadian vendors with certifications like Fair Trade, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for wood products, or Global Organic Textile Standard(GOTS) for textiles. By sourcing locally, small businesses can also reduce the carbon emissions associated with transportation, and often benefit from higher quality and more personalized service.

4. Encouraging Green Transportation

Transportation is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, with many small businesses relying on delivery services or personal vehicles for operations. Implementing policies that prioritize fuel-efficient vehicles for company use, promoting public transit subsidies, or even incentivizing cycling to work can all contribute to a greener transport footprint. For deliveries, consider consolidating shipments or using companies that offer carbon-neutral delivery options. For businesses with larger fleets, investigate the benefits of transitioning to electric vehicles as part of a long-term sustainability plan.

5. Engaging with the Community on Sustainability

Community engagement can be a powerful driver of sustainability for small businesses. Partner with local green organizations, support community clean-up events, or offer educational workshops on sustainability. Engaging customers through transparent communication about your sustainability efforts can also create a loyal, eco-conscious customer base. Leverage social media and in-store signage to share your initiatives and encourage customers to participate in sustainable practices, such as bringing reusable bags or containers for purchases.

The Bigger Picture

While these practices are impactful on their own, their collective adoption among Canadian small businesses can result in a significant positive impact on the environment. From preserving natural resources to reducing pollution, the potential ripple effect is vast. What’s more, businesses that lead the way in sustainability often enjoy cost savings, improved brand image, and a competitive edge in the marketplace. It’s a win for the planet and a win for your business.

The road to sustainability is a continuous journey of improvement. Small businesses are uniquely positioned to innovate and lead in this space. By implementing these five practices, small business owners can demonstrate a strong commitment to the environment while contributing to a greener, more sustainable Canada. Each step, no matter how small, moves us closer to a future where prosperity and ecology work hand in hand.

More resources

Advice and research for Canadian small businesses from our expert team

We've got you

We're here to make life easier for Canadian small to medium businesses like yours. How can we help you today?