Posted: July 09, 2017|Categories: News
Think you don’t have the time, inclination or resources to run your business more sustainably? It may be time for a rethink.
Small business owner Harry Dam believes it will ultimately become a pressing priority for all organisations and to ignore it will significantly impact their business success.
Harry and wife Carolyn established The Wrapping Paper Company 20 years ago. A TAKE2 Founding Partner, it’s Australia’s only designer and manufacturer of wrapping paper and accessories for complimentary gift wrapping.
With a 13 person workforce and a factory in Braeside, the couple decided 12 years ago to factor the company’s environmental impact into their bottom line.
“We became cognisant of the impact we were having on the environment and had a change of heart,” says Harry. “We looked at our children and thought ‘do we really want to be responsible for them and their children living with the effects of climate change because of what we manufacture?’
“It was a simple decision we took to change the way we do things and make a difference.”
Their most significant change has been installing a 60Kw solar panel system on their factory roof. It had a direct impact on their bottom line by reducing costs, but also changed the way the company was perceived by customers.
“We deal with a lot of Fortune 500 companies and for some of our bigger clients, our attitudes towards sustainability and climate change are the main reason they go with us.
“More and more, the buying public are also becoming increasingly discerning and things like a business’ environmental impact is an important consideration in making any purchase.”
When it comes to its own suppliers, The Wrapping Paper Company prefers businesses with a similar mindset. All the paper they use is from sustainably grown timber. The inks are Australian made, heavy metal free and 100% sustainable. The ethanol they use as a solvent is Australian made from sugar cane spirit.
Harry, who is a great TAKE2 advocate and has supported other organisations to make the TAKE2 pledge, believes the biggest barrier to more climate-friendly operations for a lot of businesses is a perception that improved sustainability means increased cost.
“I think we need to stop looking at it that way. With increased understanding and concern about climate change among customers, being a sustainable business is a real value add.
“It allows you to ask a premium price for your product and you don’t have to continually discount to stay ahead of the game.”
He says it’s fairly simple to make a start on improving sustainability. “Obviously, deciding climate change matters is the first step.
“But there are plenty of things you can do immediately for little or no cost, like switching off the lights when you’re done, using timers to switch off equipment, leaving nothing on standby and reducing waste and recycling.
“As well as reducing your impact on climate change, you’ll save money as you would with any improved efficiency.”
Another significant but perhaps less obvious benefit has been on The Wrapping Paper Company’s staff.
“Since we’ve made sustainability a priority, the attitudes and demeanour of our staff have improved because they’re proud to be part of an organisation that has taken a stand on climate change and follows through on it.”
He says that the company’s environmental credentials have made them a desirable employer that attracts high quality job applicants.
“I think would-be staff realise that because of our stand, we’re good people to work for, not just another boss. Our mindset of taking care of the environment also applies to our people. We treat them with respect and appreciate the value they bring to the business.”
Harry speaks to a lot of other business owners about making the TAKE2 pledge and changing the way they do operate to preserve the planet. Not surprisingly, some are less interested than others.
“Business owners or CEOs who have doubts about sustainable business practices will find that while it may not matter to them now, it will one day.
“I believe you’re a lot better off reacting sooner rather than later or it will definitely catch up with you down the track.”
Like Harry says, it starts with a commitment. You can do that by making your TAKE2 pledge today.