Published on April 3rd, 2012 | by Guest Contributor
7 Easy Ways Your Small Business Can Go Green
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In the “2011 Sustainability & Innovation Global Executive Study and Research Project,” MIT found that 70 percent of corporations practice sustainability. Green business practices produce valuable benefits including saving money, reduced risk to the local and global environments, enhanced public image, increased customer engagement, increased employee recruitment and retention. Any business, small or large, local or global, can use these seven easy ways to go green.
1 – Recycling Program
Implement a company-wide recycling program with a goal of reducing or eliminating waste. Recycle office paper, ink and toner cartridges, cardboard boxes, packing materials, plastic and glass bottles, aluminum cans, company equipment such as cell phones and computers, and office furniture. Put your recycling program in writing as a company policy, have all managers and supervisors sign off on it, use it in employee orientations, and let your customers and community know that your company has an active and formal recycling program.
2 – Lights Out Policy
Include a lights out policy as part of your company policies and procedures. Use power strips throughout your building to turn technology off when not in use and avoid ghost electricity consumption. Require lights out when leaving meeting and conference rooms by putting up signs under light switches. Install motion sensitive lights in bathrooms that turn off when there’s no activity in the room.
3 – Live Plants
Live plants clean indoor air, don’t off-gas like plastic and other artificial materials, don’t attract and hold airborne dust, and introduce a feeling of serenity and well-being to your business environment. Some common indoor plants remove toxins such as benzene and hexane, and all plants act as air filters and contribute to carbon dioxide and oxygen exchange. Green walls, or bio-walls, planted with vegetation not only clean the air, they can cool and humidify the indoor environment.
4 – Carpool Incentives
Offer carpool incentives to employees who share rides to and from work. Company apparel, popular products made from recycled materials, and special recognition with green nameplates or certificates are a few options to offer to encourage employees to save carpool and save gas. Consider hiring locally and providing a cost-efficient shuttle service for employees.
5 – Green Purchasing Policy
Make it a policy to buy green. Implement a green purchasing policy and require your purchasing department and managers to always seek recycled and sustainable products. Seek out green vendors who offer the best prices and service on green office and business products. Ask your customers about what green products they use and prefer to get ideas and share information.
6 – Natural Light
Natural daylight is not only free, but it has health benefits as well, including improved mental well-being, reduction in eye strain, improved attention span, and improved moods. Use natural light as much as possible. Keep blinds and curtains open and install skylights wherever possible to reduce the need for electric lights and take advantage of natural, free daylight.
7 – Regular Energy Audits
Make it a policy to conduct annual, semi-annual or quarterly energy audits of your facility. Review energy costs, check for air leakage, regularly weatherize around doors and windows, and ask employees for suggestions to save energy. Review the energy calculation tools provided by the World Resources Institute. Contact your local utilities and ask about energy audit services they may offer. Consider getting a professional energy audit once a year with a blower door test, a thermographic scan, and an air filtration measurement.
These are just seven ways your small business can go green, but there are many more. An effective and successful green business policy and program starts with top management and is implemented throughout every aspect of daily business. Consider hiring a green policy manager or gathering a going green committee to implement and manage your going green efforts. It affects the bottom line, company reputation, employee morale and retention, and the local and global environment.
The cost of green business practices can be very high. Visit www.sba.com to find out how to get extra funds for your small business.