There are all sorts of reasons why you may want to make your business greener. Maybe you want to be a good corporate citizen, maybe you are sensitive to environmental concerns. But did you know that going green can actually save your small business money? After all, the whole idea is to reduce, reuse and recycle, and all of that reusing and recycling can translate to more money in your pocket.
So, how do you do it? There are any number of small steps a business can take to help reduce its carbon footprint. Here are seven easy and affordable ones:
1) Use Energy Star equipment: By using Energy Star products and appliances, you can be assured that you will save money and help the environment at the same time. Energy Star is an Environmental Protection Agency certification program that according to its website, EnergyStar.gov, exists to:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants caused by the inefficient use of energy; and
- Make it easy for consumers to identify and purchase energy-efficient products that offer savings on energy bills without sacrificing performance, features and comfort.
2) Use timers and motion sensors: Lights are often left on in conference rooms and offices even when unoccupied. By installing occupancy sensors, your office energy use will be less wasteful and your electric bill will be lower. Similarly, electronic equipment like computers and monitors are often left on even after everyone signs off for the day. To remedy this, put a timer on the extension cord powering the computers so that they shut off automatically.
3) Change your light bulbs: Along those lines, simply replacing your standard bulbs with compact fluorescent (CF) bulbs (the squiggly ones) will reduce your power bill significantly. An Energy Star bulb:
- Uses about 75 percent less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb and lasts at least six times longer; and
- Produces about 75 percent less heat, so it’s safer to operate and can cut energy costs
4) Choose an all-in-one printer: By using an all-in-one printer that offers two-sided printing, copying and faxing, you can easily and immediately cut your paper consumption, as well as costs, in half.
6) Buy recycled office supplies: Paper, pads, sticky notes, file folders and even ink and toner cartridges can be purchased in recyclable versions, and often at the same price as "regular" items. Indeed, many recycled paper products are now roughly the same price as conventional paper due to increased demand and better production operations.
7) Use green power: Many local utilities offer customers renewable power from green sources, like wind farms. Often, there are local incentives for using such sustainable energy supplies, and the new stimulus law also includes federal tax incentives for alternative energy use. Similarly, there are all sorts of breaks for investing in green tools like solar panels.
It’s important to remember that, as with many of these ideas, “greening” your business may seem like an expense in the short term. But keep in mind that, over the long term, such changes don’t cost – they pay.
Finally, be sure to let your customers know what you are doing. Lots of consumers are making purchasing choices these days based upon how green a company is. So be sure to make note of how your company is decreasing its carbon footprint to the local media and to your customers. Many customers will reward your efforts with increased loyalty.
Have you taken any steps to “green” your small business? Have they been successful? Share them with us below.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here.