If you own a small business, you may worry that going green may be too costly or difficult to implement.
In fact, investing in environmentally friendly materials and performing simple and mindful tasks are easy and the payoffs are countless.
Here are the benefits of going green along with case studies and some practical green tips for your business.
Having a sustainable business often pay off through cost savings and a potential increase in sales. In essence it’s good for both your public image and your bottom line.
Moreover, knowing that your business is invested in helping the planet can have positive impacts on a company’s brand.
Done well, a credible green campaign can attract more customers and better employees alike.
Let’s take a look at some companies that have seen the benefits of implementing and investing in green practices.
Playworld Systems, a maker of environmentally friendly playground equipment, is noted as an industry leader for eliminating harmful PVCs from its products. Its products have been certified by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and Playworld Systems has been featured in Green Manufacturer magazine. The company takes pride in tracking and measuring their entire carbon footprint. They use the information gathered to develop new practices in how to recycle, reduce and reuse materials. Not only has the company received publicity, it also has a loyal customer base due to its commitment to the environment.
Ambient Bamboo Floors, touts the beauty and durability of bamboo flooring over hardwoods. Because it’s so fast-growing, both harvesting and regrowing bamboo is environmentally friendly. Ambient offers products designated FSC Pure by the Forestry Stewardship Council. The bamboo is harvested from well-managed forests and orders require a 90 day lead time. The company is so passionate about sustainable living that they created an infographic highlighting the new Green Home government regulations.
Marler Haley, the manufacturer of portable display systems, use intelligent design to manufacture display signs that can be reused multiple times and have a low impact on the environment. Over 80% of of the materials in their products are recyclable and the printing processes they use have as low an impact on the environment as possible.
These companies are really hitting the mark when it comes to implementing the green-living ethos in the office. Here are some actionable steps your company can take to jump start your eco-friendly business and lessen your carbon footprint.
Make sure you have a blue recycling bin next to all trash cans in your office, and encourage employees to use them. It’s not just bottles that can be recycled; items such as newspapers, boxes, envelopes and other paper products can also be recycled. This is an easy step to take that really pays off.
Who turned off the lights? Hopefully every employee who is the last to leave a room! Until it becomes a habit, post signs throughout the office encouraging employees to conserve electricity. You can even put lights on a timer to turn off by themselves when a room is exited. Also, be sure to switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, which not only save money but also last much longer than traditional bulbs.
Computers are another energy guzzler, so be sure employees turn them off every night. You can also set a designated shutdown time, which not only saves money but also helps the computers last longer.
While you’re at it, have an HVAC inspection done on a regular basis to make sure your system is operating at peak efficiency, and have the air filters cleaned each month.
Consider the materials that are used for your furniture, flooring and other design elements. Make it a practice to invest in materials that are manufactured in a sustainable way. For example, you may love the look of hardwood, but think about the large number of trees that have been harvested to make those planks. A more sustainable option is bamboo flooring.
Speaking of trees, it’s also important to cut down on paper use and printing. Utilize email for communication and even for signing documents with electronic signatures. If you must print something, make sure you create a double-sided document to cut paper use in half. Try printing on scrap paper as well. Keep a bin next to the printer for this use and be sure to recycle it when you’re done.
Consider investing in a fleet of hybrid vehicles. Although they typically cost about 20 percent more than a conventional car that runs on gasoline, the savings in gas money will pay off in the long term. The average hybrid vehicle gets around 50 MPG, which could save your business thousands of dollars down the road. You can also encourage employees to carpool or use public transportation by offering special incentives, such as restaurant gift cards or movie passes. Take it a step further and give telecommuting a try. You’ll have less energy used in the office and will need less space. Perhaps you can even downgrade to a smaller office and save even more money!
Consider the products that are used to clean your office. Cleaners containing harsh chemicals are not only bad for the environment, but they can also harm your employees’ health. Whether you have your own cleaning staff or use a service, be sure that they use products that are nontoxic and biodegradable. Keep a green cleaning spray on hand in your company kitchen and bathrooms to deal with everyday messes.
It’s a good idea to establish a written policy outlining your company’s environmental practices and make sure all employees comply. Post regulations in an easy-to-see location. These steps will ensure that your business is doing all it can to be green, and prove that going green is easy to do so.