Having an environmentally friendly business not only clearly helps the environment, but can also make your business more efficient and reduce its costs. So how easy is it for your business to go green?
1. Reduce waste and save money
Business waste, at least in the UK, carries a high premium. Latest research suggests it can cost as much as 4% of annual turnover. Using recycled and recyclable materials and biodegradable packaging can reduce waste costs dramatically, whilst not costing much more to purchase. A very small proportion of high-quality white printer paper is recycled, yet as this is much sought after so will cost you nothing or very little to recycle – see our how to recycle business paper article. Specialist recyclers can be found for hazardous waste, such as batteries and chemicals, and again certain types are sought after. Printing on both sides of paper obviously helps to save paper, and saves 1.2p (black and white) or 13p (colour) on ink costs.
Moving to “digital documents”, i.e. having the agenda and notes on your computer rather than paper, not only reduces waste but also provides an easily found record of the event.
Check for leaking taps and that all kitchen basins have plugs to use when washing up.
2. Reduce energy and save money
Switching off your computers, printers, other equipment and lights at night are easy ways not only to save energy but obviously save money. Even during the day, encouraging employees to turn off lights when they leave a room, switch off computers and unplug mobile phone chargers when not in use will save you money. Also, running cleaner vehicles and running them less often will reduce your bills. Rather than use a screensaver, set your monitor to power off after the same amount of time – it’s easy!
Checking heating and air conditioning are not on at the same time can help, and keeping doors closed when either of these are on will help their effectiveness. If rooms are empty, why not turn the heating or air con off (as well as turning off the lights)?
3. Change your products and make money
Introducing features that promote the reusability or recycled nature of your product(s) not only helps the environment but also helps sell your product. Can your business offer refills? Can they print on recycled paper? Can they send material out via email rather than print?
4. Buy plants and improve your environment
Plants not only make your office look nicer but as they absorb airborne pollutants and negative ions from computers, whilst emitting oxygen. Plant waste like bark and leaves can also be recycled and used as garden mulch.
Encourage your employees to carpool and/or take public transport when possible.
Not all green initiatives will save you money or cost you nothing, but having a green business is not always about money. As much or as little as your business can afford will help, and you and your business can always check out our 100 easy ways to go green for a lot more ideas.
For easy help on your business going green, Envirowise, a government funded organisation, has a free advice line and offers one free site visit. Good luck!