With new reports coming in regularly about the negative impact humans are having on the environment, there is growing urgency to addresses our impact on the environment, or to join coalitions like the United States Climate Alliance.
As a small business, you can contribute to creating change in a big way.
Why? Because, as opposed to governments and large corporations, we have adaptability on our side. Small businesses have the unique ability to pivot and adapt quickly. This, paired with a growing sense of urgency to go green, means your small business can implement little changes that can make a big impact, for the environment andyour wallet.
Undertaking a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiative like this makes sense for all sorts of reasons. Of course, it is the right thing to do for the environment. And yes, it can save you money. But additionally, it will also make a difference to the people you most depend on – your staff and your customers; they will appreciate your efforts.
Here then are 5 easy ways to make your small business greener:
1. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle: There are several simple ways to reduce, reuse and recycle in the office:
- Reduce water usage with low-flow toilets and faucets
- Bring reusable cutlery, cups, and plates into the office
- Opt to buy recycled products like paper and printer cartridges
- Don’t use single-use plastic bags
Not only will doing these sorts of things help the environment and minimize your carbon footprint, but it can also save you money.
2. Upgrade the Office: There are several other ways you can reduce your office’s environmental impact:
- Buy Energy Star products. Energy Star certification means that the appliance or product you are buying and using is green, and highly energy efficient. And again, this can save you money.
- Use compact fluorescent lightbulbs. By simply replacing your standard bulbs with CF bulbs, you can reduce your power usage significantly. Added bonus: The new bulbs also provide better color and flicker less.
- Install timers on lights. Lights are often left on in offices or other rooms when they are not in use. By installing occupancy sensors, you will be assured that your office energy use will be efficient and not wasteful.
3. Go Paperless: To the extent that going paperless is an option, you should definitely consider the benefits. There is an abundance of apps that help us do just about every task virtually. From cloud services to file management systems - even digital scanners! - our paper trail can be significantly reduced with one of the many available apps. Many companies also offer paperless billing, which could be a helpful option for your office.
4. Encourage Alternative Transportation: Vehicles are now the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the U.S., so one easy way to help would be to incentivize your employees to carpool, use public transportation, or bike to work.
Carpooled cars, for example, can have access to better parking spots than non-carpooled cars. Or for every day of riding public transport or biking, employees can get entered into a company-wide raffle to win a prize. This not only saves your employees money through lower transportation costs, but also ensures one less car on the road.
5. Explore Green Energy Options: It is estimated that at least half of all small businesses are located in areas that offer the option to buy energy from renewable sources like solar and wind. Many local utilities offer customers renewable power from green sources. Often, there are local incentives for using such sustainable energy supplies, as well as federal tax incentives for alternative energy use. Similarly, there are all sorts of tax breaks for investing in green tools like solar panels.
With these simple, affordable options, there is no reason to not make your business greener. Employees, customers, and most of all, the planet, will appreciate your efforts.
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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