As the world celebrates Earth day, I am faced with the reality that Africa is still lagging beyond especially in terms of waste control and industrial waste. I am also even more aware of the fact that many small businesses in Nigeria are contributing to this environmental problem because they are ill-equipped and uninformed to know what simple measures their businesses can put in place to run an environmentally sustenable enterprise. And this can also stem from the crippling challenges of running a small and micro business in Africa, especially Nigeria where entrepreneurs are too busy trying to grapple with survival than to create an environmentally sustenable practice that would not only cut down on cost of production but in turn help protect the environment as well.
Over a year ago, we chose to create a refill station to allow our customers reuse their cosmetic packaging. To encourage our customers to reject the single use habit that is prevalent, we sent them newsletters identifying what they stood to gain which was reduced prices of products while helping to contribute to protecting the environment. Our customers embraced this initiative and gradually, we started phasing out plastic packaging. Our goal for 2022 was to phase out plastic packaging for all our soaps which we achieved and are indeed proud of.
By so doing, we have been able to cut down on production costs in many ways.
- Reduced water/power waste: In the past, we used up a large amount of water and power to wash and sterilize plastic containers but with paper packaging, we now spend less on water.
- Reduced labour time: The time that we spent on washing and sterilizing containers has been cut off allowing us to focus on production and we now spend less time packaging products into paper packaging.
- Waste reduction: waste associated with washing and sterilizing materials have been cut short thereby saving the business money.
- Lower packaging cost: paper is generally cheaper than plastic so the business is saving money as well.
I guess for small business owners in Africa, we have to be deliberate in setting up business processes that help to reduce waste and improve manufacturing processes. In the past, I thought that my business needed to have lots of money to be eco- friendly but we are choosing to take baby steps closer to being 100% eco friendly business enterprise. We are optimistic about the future. Happy Earth Day!