Earth Day is April 22. What is your business doing to help the planet? Environmental awareness should not be limited to one day a year. Here are 10 easy ideas you can implement to make your business greener all year long.
- Purchase Energy Star rated business equipment. When buying new business equipment, such as computers, printers or even refrigerators for your break room, always look for the Energy Star rated product. These products are government certified to save energy (and money). Learn more about Energy Star products here.
- Get a utility audit. Ask your local energy company about conducting an audit of your business to see where you are wasting energy and how you could save it and money, as well. Many utilities offer this service for free. If yours doesn't, there are private utility auditing companies that will do this for you; most will even audit your utility bills on a monthly basis to catch any errors or discrepancies and reconcile them for you.
- Recycle whenever possible. Set up recycling bins around your office for employees to put their empty water bottles or soda cans, discarded printouts and other recyclables. If your city doesn't collect recyclables during trash collection, look into enlisting a company to haul it away or see if one of your employees is up for doing it (let them keep any money they get for it). Dispose of hazardous waste, such as paint and chemicals, and e-waste properly.
- Purchase used products. If you need to buy new office furniture, wall coverings or decor, scout out used products instead of buying new. You can find them on eBay or closeout or consignment stores. Instead of buying new printer cartridges, have them refilled — Costco is one retailer that offers the service.
- Be print-smart. Whenever possible, avoid printing documents, forms, etc. Instead, scan and store documents digitally in the cloud. You'll not only save paper, you’ll also save storage space. Plus, digital files are easily accessible and searchable wherever you are. If you do need to print, use both sides of the paper whenever possible, and choose EcoFont to save ink.
- Incorporate more online marketing. Go green by focusing on digital marketing instead of print ads, print brochures and other paper-wasting tactics. Online marketing is more affordable, more earth-friendly and, in many cases, more effective. If you're not sure where to get started, enlist an online marketing expert to help.
- Turn it off. Install automated light sensors that turn lights on and off when people enter the room so employees aren't leaving lights on all the time. Encourage employees to turn their computers and other power-consuming equipment off at the end of the day and to set their computers to sleep after a few minutes of disuse.
- Let your employees work remotely. If all your employees can work from home one day a week, you'll cut your energy use by one-fifth — and since they won't be commuting, you'll keep cars off the road, saving gas and preventing pollution.
- Give back. Give your time or money to an environmental organization of your choice (or let your employees choose one). Donate products to a green-related event, such as a local beach cleanup or tree-planting day.
- Chill out (or heat up). Setting the office thermostat too high in winter or too low in summer wastes lots of energy—not to mention sparking arguments among your staff. Use a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts the temperature depending on time of day; then lock it so your staff can’t mess with it. Choose a happy medium by setting thermostats to 68 in winter and 76 in summer to enjoy energy savings while still feeling comfortable.
Do you want more ideas for creating an environmentally friendly business? Visit the SBA website for a complete guide to green business practices.