I’ve become more and more environment conscious over the last few years. I was brought up to think about the environment and recycling everything, but since I started my product based business I have learnt a few new things. Since I started running my shop and selling products, wastage has become a pressing issue to me as a small business owner as well as good citizen. I am conscious of the material I use and am always trying to reduce my impact on the environment.
Use paper sticky tape instead of plastic
I started to use paper sticky tapes last year and am close to using up all my remaining plastic tape. I am pleasantly surprised at its strength, and resolve to use paper sticky tape for the rest of my life! I hear that some plastic tape lookalikes are actually biodegradable but it is best to buy them from plastic-free specialised shops, just to be sure.
Reuse your packaging
I keep all envelopes and boxes from my online orders, unless they are badly damaged, so I can use them again for shipping my shop orders and commissions. The bigger boxes are particularly useful when I receive wholesale orders!
I also collect newspapers, flyers, and takeaway menus coming through my letter box and use them as a void filler, instead of bubble wraps or polystyrene foam peanuts.
Use recycled packaging and materials
Sometimes there is specific packaging I need for my products so that I have to buy in bulk instead of reusing used boxes. I proactively seek out packaging that is made of recycled materials.
It is the same case for the rest of my materials – envelopes, backing boards, tissue papers, paper stock, etc.
Recycling bin in close proximity
Having a recycling bin right where you work makes it easier to remember to recycle!
Buy supplies locally
Reduce air pollution by ordering from manufacturing suppliers locally, so no aircraft and fewer motor vehicles are needed. I make efforts looking for suppliers starting with Nottingham or the Midlands, and then UK wide.
Go for recycled or FSC certified stock
This is not the most difficult thing to do because almost every paper supplier and manufacturer uses FSC certified stock, and some of them offer recycled options as well. I will choose recycled stock in a heartbeat but if there is no recycled options then FSC certified paper is okay.
Also, we small businesses tend to add a personal touch when packaging our orders so it is important to use the most eco-friendly stock available for business cards, thank you cards, complimentary slips, etc.
Where to shop?
My business is certainly not perfectly sustainable. I am still learning and looking for better ways to reduce my impact to the environment.
I still wrap my cards with cello bags and am looking to transition to biodegradable ones. I still have bubble wrap but I reuse it to wrap my ceramics rather than disposing of them in landfill. I have some plastic based materials in my studio and I plan to use them until they run out. I then will find a better alternative rather than buying more of the same thing.
What steps have you taken or plan to take to make your small business eco-friendly?