Image via Flickr by mrlaugh
As a small business owner, caring about the environment and saving money often go hand-in-hand. When you want to make your business greener, many of your energy-saving efforts end up saving you money as well. Plus, businesses with a reputation for small carbon footprints and environmental consciousness appeal to customers. It’s time to see where your business can improve its carbon footprint.
Pay Attention to Paper Usage
Offices go through reams of paper every week. You probably mail paper bills, send out notifications to your mailing lists, and print a copious in-house documents. Include the copier in the equation and you’ve got some serious paper usage. Have the employees use smaller fonts when printing personal work notes. Only copy documents when absolutely necessary, and make sure everyone knows how to use the copier. Monitor how much paper you buy, and set goals to reduce office usage.
So much of the paper that gets printed ends up in the trash can a couple of days later. Put recycling bins all over the office so recycling that paper becomes easier than throwing it away. Don’t just recycle paper and cardboard; add bins for glass, aluminum, and plastic.
Digitize Wherever Possible
One big way to get rid of paper waste is to digitize documents. Instead of copying documents, scan them into the computer and save them to digital client files. Don’t print out documents for every person who attends a meeting; make a PowerPoint presentation or send the files via e-mail beforehand. Google Docs is great for sharing and editing documents among coworkers. Give your clients and customers the option to receive paperless bills, and if you send out a newsletter, do it online instead of via mail.
Offer Green Lunch Solutions
Help your employees reduce their lunch trash. An energy-efficient microwave and refrigerator will encourage them to bring lunch to work instead of buying it out (where it comes wrapped in plastic), and a water filter from Amway on the sink gives them access to filtered water so they don’t buy water bottles. You also get to eliminate the water cooler, which uses those big plastic jugs of water. Imagine if even half of your employees stopped bringing water bottles to work, or stopped buying pre-wrapped sandwiches for lunch. That’s a lot of plastic saved.
Tweak the Office Dress Code
Do your employees need to wear suits to work every day? Many offices can get away with a slightly more casual dress code. Slacks, skirts, and button down shirts are often adequately professional for an office environment. Let your employees dress down a bit when they’re not meeting with clients or out on projects. This saves the amount of dry cleaning each employee needs to have done. It’s not specifically going to make your business green, but it will reduce the amount of dry cleaning chemicals that end up in the environment.
Cut Down on Energy Usage
When you leave for the night, do you turn off your computers or just let them sleep? Do your machines go into screen-saver mode when they’re not in use? Computers that aren’t shut down properly, or that are left with a screen saver for hours, suck down a lot of energy. Thankfully, you can invest in PC power management software, which will save you money and energy, and which doesn’t require you to do much after you install it.
Watch Your Lighting
Invest in energy-efficient light bulbs. CFL bulbs, or compact fluorescent bulbs, are the most energy-efficient bulbs you can buy. Rely on natural light wherever possible. If having the windows uncovered interferes with employees’ ability to see computer screens, consider changing how their desks are laid out so the natural light illuminates the space without reflecting off screens.
Most of these efforts are simple to implement in the office, but will have a significant impact on the amount of waste your business produces and the amount of energy you consume. Be environmentally responsible and save money at the same time by doing everything you can to make your business as green as possible.