How Can Self-Employed Business Owners Join The Circular Economy

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How Can Self-Employed Business Owners Join The Circular Economy

Dec 02, 2021

Many self-employed small business owners are beginning to appreciate the role of sustainability in their daily operations. This often comes in the form of what is known as a circular economy. A circular economic model intends to tackle pertinent issues such as climate change, pollution, and similar "green" notions.

Not only is this strategy excellent in terms of the environmental benefits that it has to offer, but a sustainable approach can help small business owners reduce their amount of waste and enjoy a higher return on investment (ROI). Let us take a look at how professionals can become involved with a circular economy sooner as opposed to later.

Creating a Sustainable Culture
One of the first steps involves educating customers and stakeholders about sustainable business approaches. Simply stated, they need to appreciate the benefits that these techniques have to offer. This is even more relevant for self-employed professionals, as they will be demonstrating to the public that they care about the environment. This is also an invaluable means to positively promote an ongoing business model.

Moving Away from a Disposable Economy
As this recent article observed, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how sustainable business approaches can have a very real impact on everyday operations. During the pandemic, smaller businesses and self-employed entrepreneurs were forced to curtail many of their operations in favor of more austere measures. The IT sector is a perfect example of such a paradigm shift.

Firms could no longer afford to purchase a new piece of equipment every time an issue was encountered. Parts and components were rather repaired and/or replaced as needed. This was a dramatic departure from previous approaches which tended to favor purchasing entirely new systems. This resulted in a more pragmatic mindset and ultimately, less strain upon the environment.

Remote Working Possibilities
COVID-19 has also served to redefine how smaller businesses interact with their workforce. Due to social distancing restrictions, many employees had no other choice than to work from home for extended periods. Although experts will argue that this trend is nothing new, the sheer number of remote workers has grown exponentially in recent times. As fewer commuters were traveling to and from the office, global carbon dioxide levels dropped by a staggering 6.4 percent in 2020 alone. This is certainly a sign of things to come, so small businesses should begin providing their employees with the ability to work remotely when feasible.

Transitioning to a Paperless Work Environment
A circular business model and a paperless environment tend to enjoy a hand-in-hand relationship. Traditional businesses will often purchase many products which have been designed for single use (such as reams of printer paper). Unfortunately, this will often result in massive amounts of waste. Self-employed business owners should therefore make it a point to look "outside of the box" to find more sustainable solutions and to help the local community.

One powerful approach is to store data within the digital domain (such as the cloud) as opposed to relying upon physical office files. Although common office products will still be required, it is now possible to purchase those which have been made from post-consumer waste. These have much less of an impact upon the environment.

Muting the Environmental Impact of Digital Devices
Common office devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers will inevitably need to be replaced from time to time. This can place a massive strain on the environment due to the harmful chemicals that many of these products contain. This is why the proper disposal of IT assets is crucial. There are two main benefits to be highlighted here:

  • The devices themselves will not pose a threat to the natural world
  • All sensitive data will be prevented from falling into the wrong hands

It is therefore important to partner with a professional IT asset disposition (ITAD) firm.

Second-Hand Items
Many of those who are self-employed are automatically governed by limited budgets. So, why not instead procure quality second-hand items as opposed of spending a massive amount of money on new products? Some examples of this approach can include desks, upholstery, and similar office furniture. Not only will this strategy contribute to a more circular approach, but vintage furniture has become quite popular within professional environments.

Please note that additional suggestions can be found throughout this blog and many can be implemented within a short period. As the circular economic approach continues to gain ground, it is only logical that self-employed business owners become aware of the opportunities at their disposal. Sustainability is indeed the wave of the future.

Author Bio: This article was written by Eoin Pigott, a Business Development Associate for Wisetek, a global leader in IT Asset Disposition, Data Destruction, & IT Reuse.

The opinions expressed in our published works are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the National Association for the Self-Employed or its members.

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