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Ways we can Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in our small businesses

reduce reuse recycle small business

The escalating environmental crisis we face today highlights the urgent need for sustainable practices in businesses of all sizes. Despite growing awareness and chaotic weather starting to affect our lives directly in the UK, many small businesses still fall short in implementing effective measures to reduce our carbon footprint.

We’re often busy carrying out our day to day work as well as looking after our families so it’s easy to forget the bigger picture. The principles of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, commonly known as the 3Rs, offer a practical framework for businesses to adopt eco-friendly practices and contribute to a greener future.

How can we reduce consumption in a small business?

One of the biggest things we can do in small business is reduce the amount of travel we do to meet clients. With video calls becoming standard during lockdown, this is a more sustainable option as well as reducing time out of the office. As I’ve discovered myself, using public transport might be possible in many cases, or renting an electric car when required.

Choosing suppliers who value sustainability can reduce our environmental impact – our banks and telecoms providers are easy to switch to more eco options like cooperatives that value people and planet over shareholder profits.

Green web hosting is a quick and easy way to reduce small business carbon output, as websites are hosted in datacentres which use a huge amount of power. Making our websites simple and quick loading reduces the amount of carbon per page view as well.

We can also use low power computers and choose zero waste options for cleaning products and office snacks. Running a paperless office will reduce our impact as well as reducing the potentially eye watering costs of printing these days.

How can we reuse things in a small business?

Our old small business IT equipment can often be reused by local schools or charities or we can buy pre-loved items. Tied to the other two Rs, we can reuse containers to use refillable products – zero waste shops are popping up all over the place so there’s likely to be one near you.

For ecommerce businesses, re-purposing packaging materials and using sustainable options for any new packing materials can be a powerful switch.  Libraries of things can help us by offering short term loan of items that we might have bought for one task and then left in a cupboard for years.

How can we recycle in a small business?

We can take advantage of local recycling facilities or organisations to ensure that recyclable materials are properly processed and reused. This isn’t limited to consumables either – there are local mattress, furniture, fabric and paint recycling schemes here that keeps those things out of landfill too. A clear recycling program that separates waste into categories such as paper, plastic, and glass can make it easier to divert materials from landfills.

By choosing options that help us reduce and reuse, the volume of recycling required should be of lower volume too. By using zero waste refill products and food composting very little might end up in the bin. Checking your recycling company (if you have one) is actually recycling items rather than burying them or sending them abroad to be burned is important too!


Embracing the principles of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle is not only beneficial for the environment but also for the long-term success and sustainability of small businesses. By implementing these strategies, we can appeal to environmentally conscious customers while also having a positive impact on the planet. While we definitely need systemic change at the local and national levels, small businesses can take action now and commit to a more sustainable future.

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