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6 Ways to Build Sustainable Principles Into Your Business By cultivating a culture of conscientious production and consumption, your business builds a strong team with similar values and attracts a loyal audience that often transforms into brand ambassadors.

By Slava Bogdan Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • A sustainable business aims for a waste-free production cycle and collaborates with suppliers who share its eco-friendly agenda.
  • Commit to providing transparent information at every step of the business process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Why is it essential to create a sustainable business? According to Alibaba's 2023 Sustainability Trends Report, 73% of consumers across 14 markets in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East desire to lead more sustainable lives. The 2023 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey suggests that 70% of respondents were willing to pay more for sustainably produced goods "to some or a great extent."

Adhering to sustainability principles not only benefits the environment and the local economy but also responds to an emerging customer need and positively impacts the brand's reputation. Let's explore actionable steps you can implement into your business strategy to foster an eco-conscious business.

1. Enhance product transparency

Use every chance to highlight the sustainable qualities of the products you produce, advertise or sell. Inserting "natural" and "eco-friendly" isn't enough anymore to make your item stand out, so instead of heavily relying on these in your descriptions, try providing an account of steps taken to achieve the "environmentally friendly" status in each case.

A conscious buyer appreciates the specifics, such as the breakdown of raw materials used to create the ceramics glaze. This honest and deliberate approach to sharing the information creates a stronger basis for your marketing strategy and prevents your brand from slipping into emotive yet elusive slogans. In our company, sellers must provide detailed descriptions of their products so that customers can make a well-grounded decision. These descriptions are, in fact, a key to joining our platform.

Related: The Top 3 Sustainable Business Practices for Entrepreneurs

2. Forge collaborations with sustainable suppliers

Suppliers you work with are often perceived as an extension of your brand. That's why it's crucial to partner with vendors who are on the same page when it comes to your company's environmental values: 44% of businesses have recently started to require business partners to meet certain sustainability criteria as indirect emissions account for more than 70% of a business's carbon footprint. You might consider introducing an incentive or a well-defined rating system to motivate your suppliers further to adhere to sustainable practices that are of importance to you.

If your company is season-dependent, prioritizing locally available products (fruit, flowers or something else entirely) reduces the need for long-distance transportation and helps further minimize your environmental impact. Additionally, it allows for fresher, higher-quality products, which can only boost your overall rating within the community.

Related: Millennials Want Transparency and Social Impact. What Are You Doing to Build a Millennial-Friendly Brand?

3. Implement recyclable packaging

Recycling and cutbacks on disposable packaging have long been key factors distinguishing sustainable brands. Studies show that consumers are not far behind: 54% want companies to prioritize eco-friendly packaging, with 57% advocating for minimal packaging for reduced waste.

Changing how you package your products can substantially reduce your brand's negative environmental impact. Explore the eco-friendly options available in your industry: floral shops can substitute cellophane with kraft paper for their arrangements, while food delivery services can transition to compostable or reusable containers.

4. Embrace waste-reducing practices

Minimizing waste doesn't have to be boring or costly for your brand and your partners. Think of intelligent ways to create a mutually beneficial scenario where environmental preservation could potentially align with your company's gain.

We like to refer to the exemplary case of one of our sellers who produces soy candles and has recently introduced an eco-friendly offer. Their candles are sold in recycled glass; once the candle burns out, the buyer can return the empty candle "holder" and claim a discount for the next purchase. This way, our seller reduces their waste and creates an incentive for their customers to come back.

Related: Need More Green for Your Green Business? Here Are Some Smart Crowdfunding Solutions.

5. Adapt production to demand

One of the main reasons why corporations, almost by default, cannot be sustainable is because they, more often than not, prioritize higher output. The reason lies in the inability of large factories to curtail production without facing losses. Local brands hold an incredibly powerful advantage in this regard as they can align their production with the actual customer demand.

In the era of overconsumption, it's refreshing (and certainly environmentally–friendly) to be the brand that encourages customers to buy in accordance with their needs and capacity instead of overindulging. On this note, it is important to keep track of initiatives your business supports: a poorly chosen campaign or collaboration can cause a discrepancy between the mission you broadcast and your actions.

Related: How to Harness the Power of Sustainability in Small Business to Drive Profits and Capital

6. Foster a culture of sustainability

Practicing mindfulness and acting per your sustainability values remains crucial. Reinforce the culture from within: consider encouraging eco-conscious purchases and rewarding environmentally friendly habits among your team. Think of a bigger picture, too — seek ways to provide your employees with mental health support and ensure their human rights and freedom are respected.

To sum up, a sustainable business aims for a waste-free production cycle, collaborates with suppliers who share its eco-friendly agenda, and commits to providing transparent information at every step of the process.

Slava Bogdan

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

СEO & co-founder of Flowwow

СEO & co-founder of Flowwow, tech-entrepreneur with a 10-year leadership experience in e-commerce business. Building a glocal (global + local) marketplace that brings ultimate joy to your loved ones around the world.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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