It could be tempting for small businesses to think they don’t have the resources and be intimidated about going green...am I right?
But going green doesn't have to be an investment of a large magnitude; there are simple, painless, and sometimes free ways to take the first steps toward reducing your small business's carbon footprint. Here are five steps you can take toward going green today.
- Turning off the lights
- Going electronic: Switching to email
- Losing the Styrofoam
- Switching off computers
- Change to energy-efficient desktops
5 Easy Ways to Go Green With Your Small Business
Making your business more eco-friendly and environmentally conscious is both a win for you and your business. That's why you need to consider these small steps in doing just that.
Turn off the lights.This is such an obvious one, but it's got to be mentioned just because so many companies fail to do it. Did you know that in 2016, commercial and institutional buildings, and public street and highway lighting, consumed about 150 billion kWh for lighting? That's a lot of electricity consumption, and certainly not sustainable. That's why you need to conserve and turn off the lights when not in use.
If you'd like to go green, but you're not wild about hounding your employees to turn the lights off, consider installing a motion sensor in the kitchen, break room, and bathrooms. This can accomplish the same purpose without having to use your Mom's voice.
Keep the office emails electronic.Some people have a tendency to print out copies of their emails and place them in a file folder for ease of reference—but you know what? That's not only wasteful; it's inefficient as well.
I promise, your company's email client provides a simple archiving system that you can use to set up folders within your account. Take an afternoon and create labels for those folders—maybe "Clients," "Vendors," "Internal Memos," and anything else you'll find useful—and get into the habit of labeling emails as they come in.
Then, instead of needing to print volumes and volumes of paper over time and haul out a file every time you need to look at something, only open the appropriate folder to find what you're looking for! (And remember, you can use your email's "search" feature to find things even faster—something your dusty old file folder never gave you.)
Lose the polystyrene.There is little out there that is as harsh on the environment as discarded Styrofoam—otherwise known as polystyrene. It's typically made of hydrofluorocarbons, which have over 1,000 times more global warming potential than carbon dioxide (and no, that isn't a typo). And this poisonous substance isn't just harming the earth; studies have shown that toxic chemicals can leak right into food or drink if heated. Is your office pouring toxic chemicals into its employees along with their morning coffee?
Something as simple as asking your employees to bring in a coffee mug from home (or making a quick stop to your local thrift store for good-as-new supplies) can save piles and piles of Styrofoam cup waste per week, and it's a much healthier alternative for your employees. I once worked in an office that had a small energy-saving dishwasher installed in the break room, reducing both disposable waste and even the water that would otherwise have been used to handwash each dish.
But even if you do decide to keep using disposable dishes and plastic ware, please, please replace your Styrofoam plates and coffee cups with paper—and make sure to switch to green packaging products, so you avoid burdening your customers with annoying (and toxic) packing peanuts!
Don't leave computers on overnight.The power consumption of a computer varies depending on whether it is a desktop or a laptop. For example, a desktop uses an average of 80 to 250kWH when it is being used (loudspeakers and printer included). A laptop, on the other hand, that is on for eight hours a day uses almost 600 kWh and emits 175 kg of CO2 per year. It's easy enough to send out an email to your team asking them to shut down when possible when they leave the office—and for experiment's sake, try sending out that email right at the beginning of your energy billing cycle just to see the difference in your monthly amounts.
Replace computer monitors with more energy-efficient models.The last point about energy use, of course, can only be made if you're not in fact still using those big, ancient CRT computer monitors of the past. If you are, you could be severely impacting your business's bottom line as well as the environment's.
Not sure if your computer monitors are truly energy-sucking offenders? Get yourself an energy meter and find out! Then, once you've picked yourself up off the floor from your shock, go out and buy some LCD monitors and watch your energy bills dwindle.
Every journey starts somewhere.
Take just a few small steps today, and see how you feel. I'm willing to bet that you'll be so energized by the good you're doing, and soon enough you will be reaping the benefits of these practices both for your business budget and for the environment, that you won't be able to stop there and you'll want to take going green for your small business to new and greater heights!