Going green may seem to be the latest trend, but it is a trend with a variety of benefits for business owners. Applying green processes to the workplace creates a healthy environment for employees, reduces unnecessary waste and recognizes the role that businesses play in leading the way for social change. Even if your business is a small start-up one, there are still a lot of opportunities for you to go green and do your part in conserving the environment.
If your business is a retail store or a simple diner, you will still buy your resources from somewhere at some point. Today you can choose from a wide range of high-quality products that are equal in performance to traditional products, but can result in lower waste, fewer chemicals, lower energy use and less material use. Green options also can save you money. By simply asking the store where you buy your supplies from if they have anything with recycled content or if they have any products that result in lower waste, you’ll be surprised at the plethora of options you’ll find.
Power Strip It
Unplugging appliances when you’re not using them is a great way to conserve energy, but running around your office plugging and unplugging every lamp, computer and coffeemaker can be a pain. Thankfully, you can install power strips around the workplace to save energy – and save money on the electric bill. When you or your employees get ready to close up shop, all you need to do is to simply switch off the power strip and you won’t have to worry about the appliance using electricity in its ‘hibernation’ mode or what.
Carpooling is a great way to save on gas and mileage, and it also encourages camaraderie among employees. It can start simple through an email or a bulletin board post and the amount of interest you receive might be surprising. Make sure to cover the basics like pick up and drop off times, who drives and when, and how often you’ll carpool. Even if your schedule only permits you to share a ride twice a week, you’ll still save money on gas and make a positive impact on the environment.
Forget Bottled Water
A lot of people (maybe even you) don’t realize that bottled water is one of the most harmful environmental products out there. 40 million plastic bottles are tossed per year, stuffing landfills with waste that won’t even begin to decompose for at least seven years. What can you do about it? Instead of stocking the break room fridge with plastic, give personalized water bottles as gifts to employees, encouraging them to ditch their plastic bottle habit. The upside is that if they use it outside the office, it will count as an advertisement of sorts for your business. Win-win we’d say.
Buy in Bulk
It may be more expensive up front, but buying food and office supplies in bulk cuts down on packaging waste and reduces pollution caused by shipping and production. Bulk purchases also save you tons of cash in the long run.
Using natural, biodegradable cleaning products reduce your exposure to harsh toxins and other chemicals, and reduce the introduction of these substances into the environment. The next time you run out of soap, shampoo or laundry detergent, swap in a greener option. Many stores sell green products in bulk. So it won’t be difficult for your budget as you go green in terms of cleaning supplies.
According to the department of energy, sealing leaks and cracks in your home can cut up to 20% off the costs of your heating and cooling bills. Many states will perform free energy audits, and will even pay for some or all of the repairs. It doesn’t matter if it’s your office or if your office is at home, it still counts. Searching on the internet for your specific state’s laws about energy audits can help you get started on the right direction.
Before deciding if your office furniture needs to be thrown out in lieu of a newer set, you could probably hire some professionals to check if your existing office furniture can still be refurbished. It’s less expensive than buying new and better for the environment.
If it’s from the top management, employees are easier to be encouraged in using email as the main source of communications. You can even include a small note in your signature reminding them that if the email isn’t very important, they don’t need to print it.
Ink and Toner Cartridges for Less
Speaking of printing concerns, you can buy remanufactured ink and toner cartridges which cost approximately 15% less than national brands and you have a quality guarantee that comes with them. It might not seem much for you, but one returned cartridge consists of about 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic out of landfills. Remanufactured cartridges conserve oil as well.
Adopting the paperless way of life in your business means not only digitizing the piles of paper you’ve accumulated over the years, but also finding the tools that prevent more paper clutter piling up on your desk. To start with, you can invest in a scanner to digitize your important documents. There are even some small businesses out there that offer to scan them for you if you don’t have the time. You simply send them your documents (or copies) and then they’ll let you know where you can retrieve the soft copies. After scanning, you can then have the documents securely shredded and recycled so that they’re out of the filing cabinet and ready to be reused.
Use CFL or LED Lights
When you’re running an office or any type of business, lighting is very important and you wouldn’t want your customers groping around in the dark. Transitioning to CFL or LED lights from incandescent light bulbs can be quite expensive at first, but these types of light bulbs last long and you can rack up your savings as time goes by. Not only is it a greener alternative, but the quality is even better than the incandescent light bulb so you know you’ll be really getting your money’s worth.
Green Web Hosting
Green web hosts are companies that take part in a variety of activities, such as using renewable energy, planting trees, or buying carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates to reduce or mitigate the environmental cost of running their servers and infrastructure. Most green companies cost the same or less than companies running servers using fossil fuels.
By following the simple steps above, you can make your business go green while cutting thousands of dollars off your bills. In addition, you can make yourself more attractive to eco-conscious consumers. No matter which of these steps you have taken, make sure to tell clients about what you are doing by creating an environmental mission statement or green practices section of your website, and by including any badges or certificates you earn on your site as well.