Environmental Sustainability and Your Small Business Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, we busted four myths of going green. Here, in Part 2, get 12 ideas for things your business can do to help the environment and even reduce your expenses.

In Part 1 of this two-part series on Environmental Sustainability and your small business, we tried to break through some of the myths that seem to be stopping smaller organizations from even attempting to take any steps toward “going green.”  As a result of these “myths,” small business owners are often some of the last to adopt environmentally friendly policies, processes, and practices.

In this second part to the series, we’ll to identify and discuss a few ways you can get your feet wet on sustainability for you and your small business.

You Have to Start Somewhere

Here’s a starter list for ideas to impact both your environment and – in many cases – your overall bottom line in terms of energy costs and usage:

  1. Join or start a green task force within your niche or industry – It will require some innovation, but it can start out as small as posting info on an industry-related forum to get a movement going.  It’s a hot topic, so interest you show will generate interest (at least competitive interest at first if nothing more, from those in direct competition to you).
  2. Join a national or local small business organization that has a green agenda – This very similar to the first item, but requires actually joining an existing organization rather than starting a grass roots effort.
  3. Contact elected officials – Contact your local elected officials and let them know who you are and what industry you are part of.  Push for greener agendas.
  4. Enable Energy Star features on your work computer – This may not seem like much, but everything helps…it’s ok to start small.
  5. Turn off machines and lights that aren’t being used – You’re probably doing this at home already to save money – do it at work, too. Lighting amounts to about 44 percent of an office’s electrical consumption. Little things like shutting off the lights at the end of the day or when you leave the room for more than ten minutes can make a big difference.
  1. Close window blinds in the summer to reduce the need for air-conditioning – Cutting down on the sun through the windows can definitely help with your AC usage…though it does tend to darken everything…this one is tough.
  2. Purchase carbon credits to go carbon neutral – Carbon credits create a market for reducing greenhouse emissions by giving a monetary value to the cost of polluting the air.
  3. Rooftop gardens – Having vegetation, even something as simple as grass on a rooftop not only reduces heating and cooling costs, but also helps combat higher temperatures associated with urban environments.
  4. Use smaller fonts, double-sided printing, and electronic files over hardcopies – Using these three options you’ll reduce paper usage and you’ll reduce trash.
  5. Create a niche – Many companies are quartering off a small section of their break room and setting up a small information section on eco-friendly habits. This not only shows your employees you’re serious about conservation, but it reinforces positive office/home habits. Businesses can also encourage and reward employees for thinking of new ways to save around the office.
  6. Eco-friendly cleaning – Use environmentally friendly cleaning products.  Offices are cleaned often so this change can make a difference in the environment.
  7. Solar energy – Look into using solar energy for your office.  While solar energy systems can be expensive to set up, they are considerably favorable systems for companies willing to invest in long-term savings. Many states now offer incentives for solar energy users, including rebates and purchasing extra energy back from the company.

The list is probably endless and this is just a start.  But many of the items listed here are very inexpensive ways of getting you and your employees thinking in terms of long-term environmental sustainability without significant impact to your bottom line – and some are actually cost-SAVING measures.  As your practices and policies become more mature and your business grows in size, you can look at more significant ways to make a difference.

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