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MAPping the Future

Not just for big business

Saving the planet is best done by the small business owners who comprise about 95 percent of our business enterprises. That means you are never too small to do something good for Earth Day and beyond.

You can start by changing the way you buy, and the way you sell or resell. Choose sustainable producers. Find out what their practices are and try to influence them to be greener and be more mindful of waste. Like food waste. How many of us buy large sizes of everything and end up throwing away what we cannot consume? How many of us throw food because we are on a diet and wish to eat less? How many still offer “eat all you can” and “unlimited rice,” “bottomless iced tea” and similar offers that just lead to waste and ruined diets?

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Next is to change how we commute. Or deliver our goods. Small businesses are better off sharing services or using transport apps or courier services. They are not only cheaper in the long run but they also conserve fuel.

Do we still use disposables and single-use plastic? We must be mindful of knowing how to reuse and recycle supplies, and using eco bags or asking customers to bring ecobags for a discount if you’re in retail.

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Rethink consumption

Have you reduced your meat consumption? That is a sure way to save money and to help save the planet from greenhouse gases. Beef from cows and pork from pigs contribute to a lot of methane gases in the atmosphere. Try to go meatless even once or twice a week. That will help a lot in saving the planet and bringing down global temperatures even a little at a time.

What about using solar energy? Solar lamps are now so affordable and you can save on fossil-fuel run electricity supply if you use solar power. We have so much sun—at least 12 hours a day—and it has gotten cheaper to get these solar-powered lights and appliances.

Use of inverter appliances which use less power is also now popular and more affordable. There are inverter air conditioning machines, refrigerators and even washing machines! You use less electricity and that helps, especially now that power supply is so limited.

As a small business, be “pound wise, not penny wise and pound foolish.” You must set aside some funds to invest in energy-smart appliances for any small business and watch it pay for itself in no time.

Electric cars and hybrids are coming next. With gas prices going north, you must be thinking of working closer to home or not having to travel long distances to go to work. So if you cannot yet buy an electric car, at least shorten your commute to your place of business or encourage more employees to work from home.

Mindful procurement

Buying from suppliers closer to your point of use also makes a lot of sense. That means you can get vegetables and fruits that are fresher. That also supports your local economy rather than importing what you need.

Try to hire employees who live close to your workplace so they can walk or bike to work. It not only keeps them healthy but you also will not need parking spaces and you will help in using less gas and diesel.

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Using local alternatives to seemingly cheaper imports (stop thinking imported goods are cheaper) helps the local economy become more sustainable.

Resist the temptation to just look at financial cost without considering environmental effects your decision causes. Every move we make has an effect on environment. Even if we are not tree huggers, we can help with mindful decisions in the conduct of our small business.

As entrepreneurs, we almost make all the decisions on procurement, human resources, warehousing, logistics, and accounting and finance. So it’s up to us to change the policies or culture in the company from being just cost-conscious but being earth-conscious as well. It can mean the difference between saving our business and seeing its eventual demise.

So if you think it’s still only for big business, think again. The best reward to feel the effects of your efforts is in creating a company culture that’s eco-conscious. Soon, your employees will, by themselves, make suggestions to have an even more earth-friendly atmosphere in your company.

For corporate social responsibility efforts, think of tree planting as one of your projects. It’s a feel-good activity for your crew and you will save or replace some trees which were cut to keep your business going.

Better waste management

Segregate waste so it becomes second nature for your staff to be more conscious about waste disposal. Reuse back sides of printed documents (except confidential ones), reuse envelopes and bags. Just like any habit, doing this 21 times makes waste segregation a habit. And such a good habit to share with your staff who could take the good habits home, too. Then everyone gets really involved, regardless of economic status or position.

So how do we keep our businesses thriving even if we are small? Do the small things. But do them everyday. Until it becomes a habit. Then imagine if all small businesses did just that. What a change in culture we will inspire and encourage our next generation to be!

In Korea and Japan, they start them as young children are taught to put garbage in correct containers; cleaning up after eating, especially in public restaurants; even wearing masks! And this is why until they get to adulthood, they know how to throw garbage, clean up after eating and dispose waste with segregation in mind.

It’s never too late to teach our young and to teach ourselves. Blame it on a warming planet, we now have to start being more earth-friendly and eco-conscious.

It’s not only for big business. Loving the Earth actually starts at home and in your one little business enterprise. One is never too small to make a difference. INQ

This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and not the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or MAP. The author is member of the MAP Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and MAP Agribusiness Committee. She is chair of Philippine Coffee Board, councilor of Slow Food for Southeast Asia and is an advocate for organic agriculture. Feedback at [email protected] and [email protected]

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