With Earth Day coming up, and the Paris Accords in the news, it’s a good time to think a bit about what we can each do in our respective businesses to make the world a little bit better, a little greener.
The problem is that many believe their own individual ecological efforts, especially when compared to the scope of the problem, can be pretty minuscule and inconsequential. If that describes you, there are two points to consider:
- Remember that individual actions do add up. That is how things change in all areas of life and business.
- Because businesses have a larger ecological footprint than individuals, business owners can have an even bigger impact.
The good news is that becoming more environmentally friendly makes you green in two great ways. First, greening your business helps green the planet, and second, greening your business also can help generate more green.
Sustainability is both good business and good for business, as it turns out.
Here are some of my top reasons and ways for businesses to go green:
Cost savings: Here are just a few of the things you can do to do your part:
- Make re-using and recycling easy by having recycling bins available throughout the office
- Go paperless to the extent you can
- When buying new technology, purchase Energy Star certified goods
- Install power timers so that equipment and lights go off at night
- Encourage employees to take public transit or bikes to work
- Ban plastic water bottles and offer filtered water instead so that employees can refill their water bottles at work
Little changes can create big results.
Healthier work environment: If you choose to go green by offering organic food instead of junk food, you are directly promoting the personal physical health of your employees, which can lead to better moods and fewer sick days. Using environmentally friendly cleaning products is also excellent for the health of your employees. In fact, according to the Green Business Bureau, there is a 20 percent decrease in number of sick days for companies that actively promote a healthier workplace.
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It’s good for morale: An ethical and sustainable work environment is increasingly becoming one of the most important requirements for young professionals. These in-demand millennials appreciate your efforts. Consider creating a green suggestion box for instance. By offering a prize for the best ideas, you will really get some good ones as well as some happy, loyal employees.
Tax benefits: Some states offer tax credits for businesses that go green. For example, in Florida, businesses who either use solar energy or produce electricity from renewable energy facilities are eligible for special tax deductions. Using hybrid cars and wind energy can also be tax deductible.
Good customer relations: Another way to make a difference is to encourage your customers to be greener. For instance, you can
- Offer green products. Adding green products to your inventory mix is easy and affordable and customers will love that they have that choice.
- Offer discounts to customers who bring their own reusable shopping bags.
- Finally, consider matching donations (up to a certain limit) made by customers to the environmental charity of their choice. This would not only burnish your green credentials, but would be a nice tax write-off to boot.
Good PR: Being able to advertise all the things your business does to be green is very attractive to many consumers. This can actually grow your customer base, since the sharp increase in public environmental consciousness has created a growing desire to patronize environmentally friendly businesses.
By being a more environmentally-friendly business, you can make yourself stand out against the crowd. Planetary green looks very good against corporate beige.
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 also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success.© Steven D. Strauss.
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