Isn’t it great when you hit on something universally accepted as a ‘very good thing’ that also makes excellent business sense? In today’s world, companies that adopt an ‘eco friendly philosophy’ are likely to find they not only retain loyal customers but attract new ones too.
82% of respondents to a recent survey in the United States said that they make it a priority to be well informed about which companies and brands have a strong track record in promoting sustainability. And 80% of those questioned said they then used this information to guide their purchasing decisions.
Here are some top tips on ways that businesses can embrace – and promote – a green code of conduct:
Cut down waste
This should be top of the list as it’s a win-win place to start. Reducing the amount thrown away will not only contribute to saving the planet, it will help cut costs too.
• Think about the items you regularly print out: reports, invoices and receipts. Do your colleagues and customers really need them all in hard copy? Almost everyone now has some kind of computer, might it be possible for some to be emailed, or disseminated in other electronic forms?
• Switch to recycled paper for those items, it is essential to print. The production of this kind of paper uses up to 45% less energy and creates less waste than the traditional process.
• Encourage staff to bring re-usable mugs, plates and cutlery to work. If you’re in the catering trade, think about offering regular customers a discount on metal or plastic ‘take away-style’ cups that they can bring in each day for a refill.
• If you’re getting rid of an item of equipment, are there any organisations that might welcome it as a donation? You could always try putting an advertisement on a local community website.
• Commission an energy audit of your workplace. Some reports estimate that poor insulation can add up to 20% of your heating and cooling bills.
• Think about how you are using the heating and air-conditioning systems. Turning them up, or down, by just a couple of degrees will not only help stem global warming, but will also reduce your running costs.
• Shut down computers and other equipment, like photocopiers, when not in use and ensure that everything is turned off overnight.
• Invest in compact-fluorescent (CFL) or LED lights. They may have a higher purchase price than traditional bulbs, but they last a lot longer and use much less energy.
• Investigate whether it might be possible to power your office with alternative energy. In many parts of Australia, it’s possible to buy “green power” from utility providers. This kind of energy is generated from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power. It may cost a little more, but it will demonstrate that your business is committed to investing in sustainability.
It’s always more energy efficient to reuse rather than to recycle, but it’s impossible to find a new way to use every waste item. Therefore, it’s important to take care about how – and where – you recycle.
• Try to buy paper, bottles, toner cartridges and other essentials from suppliers that are committed to helping you recycle in the most environmentally friendly way. Good companies will often offer their clients recycling services, or advice about the best place to get it done. Publicise the fact that you are committed to reusing and recycling and encourage your customers to do the same.
• Get creative. In addition to recycling yourself, think about using second-hand and vintage furniture in your office. Not only is this likely to save you money, but it might even bring a distinctive, eco-friendly ‘look’ to your corporate style.
Encourage green transport
By urging members of staff and customers to use public transport, or cycles, instead of cars, you are helping to cut pollution and congestion.
• If you have a parking area, make sure it includes safe, watertight, well-lit cycle sheds.
• Think about offering interest-free, monthly repayment loans for staff that want to purchase bikes and season tickets for public transport.
• Set up an office carpool rota. Not only will this enable colleagues to save money and fuel, but it’s also an excellent way for members of staff to get to know their entire team.
• Does someone need to drive 100 kilometres or take a three-hour flight to attend a two-hour meeting? There are now many different ways to make high-quality video conference calls – utilize them.
• When it’s time to replace a machine or appliance, choose the most energy-efficient one that you can afford.
• Purchase food, and any other services you need, from local providers whenever possible. Not only does this cut down on the fuel consumption but it means you are supporting the local economy too.
• Use natural, biodegradable cleaning products.
• If you have a website, consider using ‘green web hosts’. These are companies that offer ‘energy offset’ to mitigate the environmental cost of the computers and servers they run. This might be in the form of planting trees or investing in ecological projects.
Don’t forget to brag
Finally, remember that your customers want to know about the steps you are taking to protect the environment, so don’t be afraid to do a bit of boasting. Proclaim your eco credentials and mission statement proudly on your website and keep everyone up to date about how your company is working to protect the planet for future generations.
Our writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.