9 eco-friendly strategies to improve profit

A sustainable mind-set can mean greater efficiency and more profit.

A 2013 UPS-commissioned comScore study found that an increasing number of consumers are factoring sustainability into their purchasing decisions.

If the idea of implementing eco-friendly strategies seems daunting, there’s encouraging news: small businesses can use sustainable practices to differentiate themselves from the competition and, more importantly, improve profits. Here are 9 practical—and affordable—ways your company can meet the growing demand of sustainability.

1. Start by cutting back on business-related errands. Even if you’re a small company that keeps costs down in a tough economy, you’re probably still neglecting money-savers. Take business-related errands, for example. You can save an incredible amount in fuel costs, annually, by simply planning your routes.

2. Look at how you package shipments. UPS sustainability experts suggest that you reconsider the kind of box you use to package shipments, as well as the cushioning inside to protect its contents. Cutting down on the likelihood of returned packages lowers your overall shipping costs while maintaining the customer relationship.

3. Offer your customers carbon neutral shipping options. Our experts find that consumers want to feel that their purchasing decisions can make a difference. Providing services like UPS’s carbon neutral shipping option can help you give your customers the opportunity to help purchase high-quality, verified carbon offsets that fund projects such as reforestation and landfill gas destruction.

4. Use recycled packing materials for cushioning. North Carolina-based Candle Science found that using recycled content in its packaging eliminated expensive materials such as plastic cushioning and foam completely.

5. Save on overhead costs, like lighting fixtures and printing services. Promotional material giant Geiger, based in Maine, invested in energy-saving improvements to pumps, compressors, light fixtures, and air conditioning. The result: an annual reduction of 840,000-kilowatt hours and 14,000 gallons of fuel oil. This has generated annual savings of $150,000.

6. Reduce excessive water consumption. There are other ways to save energy resources. For example, Arizona-based InPro replaced its toilets and restored its landscaped grounds to a natural setting, which led to a 20-percent reduction in water use.

7. Shift your shipping modes from air to ground, or from ground to rail or ocean. Slower forms of transportation typically have less impact on the environment. Your company can keep costs down by using rail and ocean freight.

8. Consolidate your shipments to the same destinations. This can be particularly efficient when you’re shipping overseas. Use a reliable customs broker that can help get your goods where they need to be, with less chance of delay.

9. Look for reusable shipping envelopes. Encourage your customers to use them when returning documents to you. This can include labels and air shipping packages.