More and more we read about the need for people to be greener at home, but there should be a bigger push for more businesses to go green. This is necessary because businesses of all sizes leave a larger carbon footprint than individual consumers.
Moreover, businesses produce larger amounts of waste, release more toxins into the air and have the potential to do greater harm to the earth. Creating a greener workplace has many benefits such as reducing waste, conserving energy, creating a healthier environment for employees and promoting greater social responsibility throughout communities.
From a business perspective, going green can help business owners create loyalty in people who care about the environment. People often find incentive to patronize businesses when they see significant effort going toward important causes such as conservation. Going green can even improve employee retention and brand value.
Here are seven simple ways businesses can be greener.
Printing less reduces deforestation. Sending more emails and relying more heavily on technology such as instant messaging, conference calls and video presentations creates quicker access to information and reduces paper waste in the workplace. Less printing also creates more physical space in file cabinets and desks. If printing is necessary, it’s better to use two-sided printing when possible.
Styrofoam is one of the worst materials a business could use because it takes hundreds of years to biodegrade in landfills and releases large amounts of ozone toxins into the air. By switching to biodegradable and nontoxic paper or plastic products instead of Styrofoam cups, boxes and bowls, you’ll be doing Mother Nature a big favor.
Recycling is an easy, cost-effective way to make a big impact on your community. According to DoSomething.org, more than 75% of waste is recyclable but only 30% is actually recycled. Utilizing a local recycling service to remove plastics, paper, metals and glass on-site can even lower a business’ trash expenses. Above all, recycling reduces the amount of trash your business produces.
Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
It’s hard to know how your business is impacting the environment without calculating your business’ footprint. According to RecyclingToday.com, three top wastes in the workplace are batteries, electronics and desk lamps. Check out this small business carbon footprint calculator created by the University of California, Berkeley to estimate the environmental impact of your business.
Switch to Greener Bulbs
Using compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) lightbulbs will help your business be greener and save money. These bulbs may initially cost more, but they will save you money in the long run because they’ll last longer and decrease the amount of energy you require. These lightbulbs can use up to 75% less energy, according to EnergyStar.gov. You can also consider switching to light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which create less global warming pollution.
Encourage your employees to turn off their equipment when it’s not being used. This includes computers, lamps, printers and other items they may keep at their desks. This can reduce the energy your business uses by 25%. Turning off the computers at the end of a work day can save up to $30 a year per computer, according to the Department of Energy.
Choose Suppliers Wisely
Use more care in selecting suppliers who implement green practices with packaging, mailing and other support services. Take the initiative to inquire about the green practices of your business partners. Most importantly, be vocal about how green practices offer incentive to do business.
There are many ways businesses can be greener and many positive outcomes to adopting greener practices. In some ways, businesses are leaving money on the table by not going green. A 2011 survey by Miami-based AERC Recycling Solutions found that 45% of businesses reported a drop in operating costs as a result of recycling. In addition to reducing operation expenses, EcoSeed.org reports that greener business practices also can result in significant tax credits through federal and state incentive programs.
To share more ways businesses can go green, leave your comments below.
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