24 Apr 2019
10 Simple Ways to Green Your Business
More and more companies are working to create more environmentally sustainable businesses. While large companies are investing billions of dollars in sweeping initiatives, there are easy, affordable ways for all-size businesses to go green, too.
It’s a smart move, for multiple reasons. Climate-change sceptics aside, there is compelling evidence that the earth is warming and natural resources are dwindling. Don’t we all want to leave our children a healthy, viable planet?
Furthermore, corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are good for businesses and communities. Building green projects into your corporate social responsibility program can improve employee engagement, increase customer loyalty and elevate your brand.
Studies find jobseekers are drawn to sustainable businesses, according to the Network for Business Sustainability. As the talent shortage tightens its grip, greening your business can create a hiring advantage. Furthermore, in a Nielsen survey that spanned 60 countries, 66% of consumers said they are happy to pay more for environmentally-friendly goods.
Plus, going green doesn’t have to be expensive—in fact, some sustainable business practices actually save employers money over time. And in many regards, employers have the freedom to go green at their own pace. Here are 10 simple, cost-effective ways to get started.
- Change Your Printing Habits
Did you know that paper still accounts for 25% of landfill waste? Your office can reduce its paper usage by relying more extensively on electronic files, choosing cloud storage over file cabinets and making it company policy to print on both sides of each sheet. In addition, purchase 100% PCW (post-consumer waste) paper instead of virgin wood pulp paper. It’s 50% more efficient to make, looks just as good, and costs about the same or just a bit more.
- Switch to Smarter Lightbulbs
CFL and LED lights cost more than incandescent bulbs, but they last up to 25 times longer and use less energy, so they more than pay for themselves. Saving energy means saving money: if you changed 100 bulbs switched on for each eight-hour workday, you’d save more than $1,000 per year!
- Dial Down Your Energy Usage
There are many ways to lower electrical usage without impacting operations—like changing the power settings on office PCs or using smart power strips. When you replace electronics, choose Energy Star® certified models—they use 10-50% less power. And ask your power company if it offers a green alternative (power generated from renewable sources like wind and solar power). It may be more cost-effective than you think!
- Power-up Your Recycling Efforts
The more convenient you make recycling, the more your employees will comply. Is there a small recycling bin at every workstation? That’s an easy way to build good habits. Be mindful how you dispose of electronics. In 2018, 50 million tons of electronic waste, or e-waste, was generated worldwide, but only a small percentage was properly recycled. Take advantage of vendors’ recycling programs and donate functional items to local schools and charities.
- Donate, Don’t Dump
Speaking of donations: if your business manages physical inventory, rethink how you dispose of unwanted merchandise. Gifts-in-kind organizations are nonprofits that accept corporate product donations, then redistribute inventory to schools, churches and charities that want it. Such donations are often tax deductible—and it makes a nice addition to your corporate social responsibility program.
- Clean up the Office Kitchen
Bottled water and Styrofoam coffee cups are staples in many offices, but single-use items are no friend to Mother Nature. Consider stocking the kitchen with reusable glasses and mugs instead. If you must use disposable coffee cups, switch from Styrofoam to compostable, biodegradable hot cups. (You’ll also find compostable utensils and tableware—and even K cups, if you’re willing to pay a bit more.)
- Create an Employee Green Team
Chances are, some of your employees are passionate about environmental issues and would welcome the chance to help green your business. Invite them to form a Green Team—an advisory group that brainstorms ways your company can go green, contributes newsletter articles, etc. Employee-led initiatives are often met more enthusiastically than top-down directives—and you may get some great ideas out of it, too.
- Think Green When It Comes to Procurement
Companies that are serious about sustainability develop policies regarding the products they buy and suppliers they use. From biodegradable cleaning products to green office supplies like refillable pens and staple-free staplers, choosing environmentally-friendly supplies demonstrates your commitment to going greens.
Remember, green supplies aren’t simply those made with recycled content. They’re often biodegradable, made with reduced chemicals, and hold third-party certifications from trusted organizations like Green Business, B Corp and LEED.
- Allow Employees to Occasionally Work Remotely
Telecommuting is very popular with employees, but offers green benefits to employers, too. It can help reduce your business’s carbon footprint, cut energy costs and reduce waste (not to mention commuting-related carbon emissions). In studies, remote workers were found to be more productive than their office-based counterparts. While many businesses can’t accommodate a remote workforce full-time, is it something you can handle once or twice a month?
- Sponsor Green-related Volunteer Activities
Employer-sponsored volunteer programs increase employee engagement, while benefiting communities. Consider sponsoring paid volunteer days where willing employees can help clean up a highway or plant trees in a park. Such events are especially popular on Earth Day and Arbor Day, but there are no limits to what you might do, and it’s great for brand-building, too!
When you think about it, there are many simple, affordable ways to green your business—and grow it at the same time. Your employees and customers will love you for it. And Mother Earth will, too.