A Worthy Goal for Small Businesses – Sustainability
Sustainability, from an organizational perspective, should include an increase in productivity, and/or reduction of consumed resources without compromising product or service quality, competitiveness, or profitability. It is a business strategy that all size companies will need to adapt if we want to improve our environment. “It just makes sense to pay attention to the environmental impact of our economic practices and try to ensure that our communities are healthy, pleasant places to live.” – Susan Ward
The Advantage for Small Business
In our experience small businesses have a distinct advantage in the adoption of sustainable business practices. Typically small businesses are more flexible, creative, nimble, innovative, and responsive. By proportion small companies deal with fewer challenges and incur less cost. Small companies are more open to change and can get things done faster. Because they are not mired down in a lot of bureaucracy they have the ability to define what sustainability specifically means to their company, and quickly implement a plan of action. Speedy implementation leads to quick and measurable results.
Alan Gunderson of Package Containers, Inc. provides a great example of what a small company can accomplish in a short period of time. “We spent five years expanding our internal recycling program while increasing sales, production, and profitability of our paper bag and wire tie lines used in grocery, restaurant, bakery, and wine industries. Additionally, we maintained full employment and added a seasonal extra shift. During this expansion, we’ve also decreased our waste and earned rebates for recycling production waste.”
Since small businesses and entrepreneurs now makeup over half of worldwide employment the cumulative benefits to our environment will be huge. A law firm in California, Wendel Rosen, has been committed to their sustainability initiative since 2003. Their transition to 100% post consumer content chlorine fee recycled paper annually saves 250 trees, 40,000 pounds of greenhouse gases, and 31,450 kilowatts of electricity each year.
To move to sustainable development, decision makers of small companies need information in order to define sustainability for their business and a guide on how to layout an implementation plan. It is not a difficult process as it is all about creating a common sense approach that helps your business grow and be profitable while focusing on your company’s environmental impact.
People + Process + Environment = Profit
Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC, through their Institute for Sustainability, has specialized in helping businesses define and implement a common sense approach to sustainability while achieving high levels of excellence and results. Learn how at www.theinstituteforsustainability.com or contact RAC directly at 800.799.6227.