Green Buoy Consulting

Small Business Owner?

This is Sustainability for You

Part 1: Collecting & Storing Sustainability Data

We’re all about data here at Green Buoy. Data is how we prove sustainability works and keep businesses in check. It’s how we show businesses the value of their efforts and show them the good they are doing. Think about sustainability data you hear, “10,000 cups kept from landfills!” “Energy Reduced by 11%!” These data points tell a specific story.

Which sounds better to you? “We started recycling last year!” or “ We have kept 45,000 pounds of aluminum out of landfills.” The second one, right? Read on for the first part of how to do this yourself.


Sustainability “data” includes how much waste, water or energy you are using, how much time you are allocating to sustainability efforts and how much money you are saving or spending on efforts. I recommend collecting two types of data: quantitative and qualitative. Collecting this data is a way to show progress, report to investors, and share with stakeholders. Quantitative data is “collected” for you in the form of bills and usage calculations. Qualitative data includes customer and employee feedback and takes conscious effort to organize. 


The best way to collect and store data is a way that works for you. 

Quantitative collection includes computable numbers or figures. Store data categorized by type: waste, water or energy. Put both money spent and the unit used into the spreadsheet. I find it easiest to store this in Excel sheets. It can be easy as creating columns of each item and then using rows across for the unit (months, usually). 

Enter in the data each month for each indicator as you get your bill. It’s easiest to do this a little bit at a time instead of taking time to do it all at the end of the year. Do it as you pay your bills. Putting it in monthly also allows you to see changes and improvements month over month.  

Collect qualitative data through surveys, customer comments, and writing down your own feelings or thoughts about sustainability. Employee complaints, struggles and interests are all valuable qualitative data. With each sustainability initiative, take time to collect employee feedback and ask them for input. Save that input into a central place. Qualitative data should also include rough estimates of time spent completing initiatives, changing items, or other related time. 



·      Tracks water, waste and energy into spreadsheets as part of monthly bill pay/financial reconciliation. One section for money spent, one section for units used

·      4x annual staff employee survey- store in word document

·      Open drop box of employee feedback –  retrieved monthly and stored in a  word document 

Retail Store:

·      10 minutes each week to jot down sustainability ideas and ask for employee feedback from 4 employees each month

·      One sheet to show money spent on sustainability initiatives, including LEDs and wind protection for door

·      One excel sheet to track bills and units used for electricity

Curious to learn more? Set up a free 30-minute consult, here.

Now check out Part 2 of this discussion.

Eliza ErskineComment