Small Business

Going green: 6 ways to make your business more eco-friendly

Each year on April 22, more than a billion people celebrate Earth Day — a day set aside to focus on protecting our planet.

As a business owner, Earth Day is a good opportunity to evaluate the impact your company is having on the environment and how you can become more eco-friendly. After all, many Americans consider the environment when they shop —  according to a recent report, 75% of consumers take corporate sustainability practices into account when making purchases.

Greening your business is a win-win situation all around: you help preserve the Earth, customers may be more likely to do business with you (as long as you don’t “greenwash,” or falsely claim to green your business!), and it could actually save your company money in the long run.

Interested in making your business greener? Here are six simple ideas.

1. Recycle

Recycling is one of the most important ways you can green your business, as waste has a huge negative impact on our environment.

If you haven’t already, place clearly marked recycling bins for paper, cans, and bottles next to the garbage cans in common areas such as your copy room and kitchen. The key is to make it as easy to recycle as it is to throw something away. You may also want to send out an email to the entire company so everyone knows how seriously you’re taking this initiative.

Take it to the next level: Paper and cans aren’t the only things you can recycle. Many cities now offer composting programs, where food scraps and plant waste are collected to be used as fertilizer instead of filling up landfills. You can also cut down on your e-waste by setting out bins and encouraging your employees to recycle batteries, light bulbs, cell phones, office equipment, and more.

2. Use biodegradable cleaners

Did you know that conventional cleaning products can introduce harsh toxins into the environment? Even worse, they can pollute your office air and potentially harm your employees’ health.

With more and more manufacturers offering green cleaning products, switching over to biodegradable cleaners doesn’t have to cost your company a lot. In fact, if you decide to create your own cleaners or buy in bulk, you could actually save money (while saving the environment as well!).

3. Switch to CFL or LED lights

Going green (and saving money) can be as simple as flipping on a light switch. While energy-efficient bulbs such as CFLs or LEDs will cost you a little more upfront, they should pay off in the end, as they last longer than traditional bulbs and use considerably less electricity — you could end up saving over $150 per bulb! Multiply that by however many bulbs you have in your office, and you could end up saving thousands. Plus, it’ll reduce your carbon emissions. That’s what we’d call a win-win.

Bonus tip: Depending on your state, you may be eligible for financial assistance to conduct an energy audit and make energy-efficient upgrades. Check out this list of energy efficiency programs for more information.

4. Encourage your employees to reduce their carbon footprint

According to the Environment Protection Agency, driving is the most polluting activity that most people in the United States engage in daily. In order to spare the air, consider offering a stipend (or other incentive) to employees who take public transportation, drive hybrid or electric vehicles, walk, or bike to work.

Alternatively, encourage your employees to work from home one day a week. Not only will this save you money on office energy costs and help reduce your company’s carbon footprint, but your employees might also enjoy the flexibility and see this as an employee perk.

5. Try going paperless

Want to take your green initiatives to the next level? Try making your office as paperless as possible. This means relying on electronic documents whenever you can, getting rid of single-use products like paper plates and cups, and using warm-air hand dryers instead of paper towels in restrooms.

While this change will require a lot of upfront commitment, doing so could have a big impact — both on your wallet and the environment. According to the American Forest and Paper Association, paper manufacturing is the third largest user of fossil fuels worldwide. Even if you can’t go 100% paperless, cutting back is a great start.

6. Purchase supplies produced sustainably

There are many companies devoted to producing green supplies — whether they’re made out of recycled materials, use intentionally reduced packaging, or are developed in an energy-efficient manner. By supporting these companies, you support a greener world.

Did you know? Most of the office supplies you’d ever need can come recycled — from paper and pens to paper clips and tissue. Even sponges, wrist cushions, and office chairs can contain recyclable material!

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