Going green is not only popular, it’s also morally right. You might not have all of the resources to make your small business 100 percent eco-friendly right away. However, you can still make a positive impact on the earth as you grow and succeed in your business. Not sure where to start? Here are 10 ways you can make your small business eco-friendly.
Invest in eco-friendly office supplies
If you want to become eco-friendly, you have to start within your business. Using eco-friendly office supplies will remind you and your employees how important it is to be a green business while also reducing waste. Eco-friendly supplies include recycled folders, recycled paper towel rolls and tissues, refillable whiteboard markers, reusable cups and mugs, recycling bins and much more. You can also incorporate more greenery while adding a bright aesthetic to your office by having moss terrariums or Zen mini gardens.
Use LED lighting.
Using LED lighting can help reduce energy waste as well as rid of the noxious chemicals (like mercury) you’d get from fluorescent lighting. Although they’re a bit more expensive, they last much longer than traditional lightbulbs. In fact, they’re 80 percent more efficient, with 95 percent of the energy in LED bulbs is converted into light and 5 percent converted into heat (the opposite is true for traditional fluorescent lights). LED lights also don’t contain toxic elements and have a better quality of light distribution, which means that less bulbs are needed to bring light into your office or store. Good for the environment and good for your budget!
Online marketing campaigns
Instead of taking ads out in the paper or putting up flyers, invest your marketing campaigns to be strictly online. Social media and email threads are a great way to expand your brand while also reducing paper usage, which reduces pollution and saves some trees! You can also encourage your customers to be eco-friendlier as well as starting discussions with them on how to make your small business even more green.
For your equipment, ingredients or anything you need for your small business, try to buy from local vendors. Shopping local not only helps the environment, but it also supports your local small business. By shopping local, you’ll have less deliveries, which cuts down air pollution caused by delivery trucks. You can also partner with your fellow local business for more green initiatives, taking action on sustainability. You can develop strategies for a more circular economy, which promotes local sourcing of material and reduces the consumption of natural resources.
Brand green promotional products
Instead of branding one-time use bottles of water, look into branding reusable water bottles. This way, you’re helping the planet by reducing plastic pollution while also enhancing your brand. If you offer your customers one-time use bottles, they’ll throw them out and will probably forget about your business. However, by giving them a reusable water bottle, they’ll have a continually reminder of your brand and business. Customers will also feel good for helping reduce the planet’s plastic waste.
Offer eco-friendly products
Offering eco-friendly products helps the environment, your conscience and your customers’ consciences as well. By offering or selling environmentally friendly products, your customers will have that charitable fulfillment and will continue to shop at your store in order to keep helping the environment. It also might inspire them to incorporate a greener lifestyle. Eco-friendly products include reusable bags, soaps or fragrances using plant resources and sustainable oils, non-animal tested products, biodegradable wrappers or containers and much, much more.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 86 percent of workers commute to work by car and at least 75 percent drive alone. Your car emits carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, all of which create an atmospheric haze and can damage your lungs and the earth. Instead of driving or driving alone, bike or walk to work, take public transportation or set up a company carpool chain. If you can, allow your employees to work from home once in a while. This will help reduce harmful chemicals in our atmosphere, and the earth – and your lungs – will thank you for it!
Offer customer rewards
Reward your customers with giveaways or coupons for being green. For a giveaway, hold a contest on social media using a specific hashtag to incentivize your customers to go green. It could be as simple as them posting a picture of how they’ve made a green change in their life and then a random winner being selected (either for a gift card, a free product or a special discount code). Also have “green days” in which customers who bring in items for recycling, use paperless receipts or purchase eco-friendly products get a small discount on their total bill.
Check your receipts
Offering customers a choice between paper and email receipt can decreased your use of paper, which keeps your business eco-friendly! While not all customers will want a receipt emailed to them, giving them the choice increases their likelihood of receiving paperless receipts (or no receipt at all). You should also use recycled receipt paper for those who still want a paper receipt. If you provide a service, stick to online only invoicing to reduce the use of paper.
Get listed on eco-friendly websites
Being environmentally sound can provide benefits to the environment, your conscience and your small business. Eco-friendly websites will want their users knowing which businesses in their area are environmentally friendly. By greening up your business, you can reach out to these sites to be featured. You can also learn even more innovate ways to make your business green!
Implementing some, if not all, of these 10 tips will help you green your business. Going green isn’t just good marketing – it’s good morals. You’re helping your business and the earth when you take care of the environment. If you don’t have the resources to go completely green, you could take out a small business loan to help jumpstart the process, or you can start small and grow from there.
Constantina is a new addition to the SEO team at Kabbage, a small business loans provider. She holds a Master’s degree from Northwestern University, where she learned how to create content that could best be organically shared. When not in the marketing world, Constantina enjoys strategy games and singing along to the Law & Order: SVU theme song.
In any given time, there are two types of people who are reading this blog: the optimist and the sceptic. If you are one of the optimists, you are likely ready to invest your time and money to green your office. You are likely to know why you want this—in fact, you probably have read several other articles related to the topic. If this is you, go ahead and check out our carefully crafted steps and unique recommendations to make your green office one of a kind.
If you are a sceptic, however, you might not want to skip this part. Do you know that one of the most popular false mindsets in going green for businesses is that it costs an extraordinary amount of money? This could be what makes you be sceptical in the first place. If this is so, get ready to be blown away.
It’s true that environmentally friendly products can be more expensive than their regular counterparts, but what people often miss is the long term benefits. Companies, either big or small, can reduce their costs quite significantly by going green. Governments give out tax credits and tax reliefs for businesses that implement energy-saving plan into their operations. But that is the indirect way of going about it. What about the direct way? What can a company do to save the environment and energy cost at the same time? Read the easy steps below.
Yes, sleep! Not for you, but for your electronics. Putting your PCs to sleep can reduce carbon emission by 300 lbs. per year. Carbon emission is the release of carbon into the atmosphere, which can cause climate change, decreased water and food supply, and increased incidents of severe weather. Roughly 35% of energy usage in offices comes from lighting, so turn off lamps when not in use, as well as printers and copier machines.
To give you an idea what reducing carbon emission can do to your business, DuPont, a chemical manufacturer, saved approximately $3 billion in over two decades by using this method.
#2. Get Intimate with the 5Rs
Have you heard of the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? That is so last season! Now there are five: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle. The main point of this practice is to prioritise your company’s needs relating to items’ purchases and uses.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Refuse teaches you not to buy what your company doesn’t need, at all.
- Exercise Reduce by restraining the company’s overall consumption of supplies. This means you have to be smart in selecting your products. LED lights are more efficient and last longer than fluorescent bulbs. In the long term, they will reduce energy consumption by 35% in the commercial sector. Another example is choosing AFRDI Green Certified ergonomic office chairs over regular chairs. Providing support and comfort to your employee will increase concentration and productivity, and you also improve nature’s sustainability by choosing a green product.
- Drop the disposable option and go for The simplest tip is to look at your company’s pantry or cafeteria. Are they using throwaway plastic plates, spoon, and fork? Minnetonka Middle School substituted their plastic wares with metal wares in the student cafeterias, and they reduced their cost by $3000 in just one year without any significant increase in labour time and water consumption.
- Repurpose old office supplies and office waste. Got old cardboard boxes lying around? Convert it to DIY tissue holder or charger organiser. General Motors repurposed their office waste by donating them to other smaller businesses and organisations, effectively promoting sustainability.
- If all else fails, Recycle! The EPA states 82% of electronic waste today still ends up in a landfill. E-waste produces toxic chemicals such as cadmium and arsenic which can be deadly to people living in the vicinity. Recycling paper can help save water, trees, and oil—all of which were used in the production.
#3. Carpool or Stay at Home
Working from home help reduces auto and gas emissions, as well as energy consumption. It can also increase employee productivity up to 13% while keeping them happy at the same time. Remote work also means a reduced budget for office space and supplies.
If you are in a kind of businesses that mandates your employee to come to the office, you can encourage your employees to carpool or you can provide a corporate shuttle. Aside from reducing carbon dioxide emission, this option may save money by eliminating the need to rent or build a car park.
So there you have it! These 3 easy steps are a great start to your green company. If by any chance, you are building a new office or are looking to change up the office to a greener version, you can build a virtual layout and get cost estimation before actually going through with it. This way, you can optimise and customise your green office.
Now, let’s say you follow all these steps religiously and you make all these green policies in the workplace. And yet, the annual evaluation doesn’t reflect this effort. Your company experiences no real benefit from going green. How could this be?
Employees are the human aspect—and an important aspect—of going green that are often overlooked. Research indicates only about 34% employees are aware of their company’s environmental targets. About 64% of them admit that lack of empowerment and communication causes them to be less green at work. Awareness is important. A good employer wouldn’t just tell their employees what to do—they would give understanding and involve employees in the process.
With all these information, are you ready to go green? Design your green office layout, purchase the right, sustainable supplies, and turn off your electronics when you don’t use them. Get to know your 5Rs and apply them, and manage how your employees get to and from work. Do all those things, along with spreading awareness and providing support and motivation, and guaranteed—your company will see benefits, environmentally and monetarily, in no time!
Business owners are often intimidated by going green when they think about what it could cost. True, sustainable business practices are an investment, and a hefty one depending on the route you choose! However, with upwards of 55% of consumers seeking eco-friendly brands, there is profit to be found in the going green frenzy.
The graphic below from Fundera, a small business loan marketplace, outlines how you can maximize the benefits from your sustainability strategy. Whether you are starting from the ground up to build a LEED-certified office, or want to find small ways to make an impact, the options are boundless. Plus, grants like the SBIR program make it easy to fund your projects, so you can boast eco-friendly business without going deep into personal debt.
In construction, around half of non-renewable resources are used. That makes it one of the most damaging industries to the environment on the globe. And as the world races through the 21st century, more and more people are moving into urban areas that require constant development.
Sustainable construction. New ideas and innovative technology that can transform the industry and the way it operates giving hope to the future. But what does sustainable construction really mean, where is it up to now, and what does the future hold?
Raised Floor Solutions take a look…
What is sustainable construction?
The term sustainable construction can be interpreted in a number of different ways, but at its core it is about harnessing the latest technology and methods to build much needed infrastructure without cost to the environment.
Developments often go forward with a focus and drive on one particular need. Like that of an areas requirement of new houses or a new hospital, without considering the wider implications on the environment. Sustainable construction asks now that we pivot and consider the impact our infrastructure is having on the world around us. It often takes into account three themes known as the ‘triple bottom line’ which are the environment, social stability, and economic accountability.
Where is it up to?
Currently worldwide there are a number of agencies and organisations that have developed rating systems and standard for green building. Some countries have varying rating systems such as the UK which uses BREEAM and the US that uses LEED. Going forward though, it’s looking like these standards may saturate towards one worldwide standard. The rewards are often credits that are given to buildings that support initiatives that include things like sustainable materials or water conservation.
The future of sustainable construction
As the urban population grows, so does the necessity of green building. But how will it change and what technologies will emerge to make it a viable way to build and protect our future?
In recent years, as well as seeing an increase in new-builds taking on green technologies, we’re seeing retrofit energy efficiency too. This indicates that home owners and offices are looking to adapt their current buildings and homes to put less strain on the environment.
In cities around the world we are also seeing big name, high profile buildings being constructed that are pioneering ‘green’ building tech. It’s these leading designs that are inspiring architects and construction companies across the globe. From the Bullitt Centre in Seattle that was designed to be the greenest building in the world to the Council House 2 that was the first purpose built office in Australia to achieve a Six Green Star rating – green building is now a popular trend.
The biggest and most commonly cited drawback of sustainable building is cost. These new building methods, technologies, and materials don’t come cheap, and so many businesses are nervous to take their first steps into green construction. There is a saving to be made in the long run, however. Sustainable buildings cost much less to run and maintain, meaning that the initial offset is usually worth it.
Another common issue is the problem of actually sourcing sustainable materials, especially so on a large scale. In urban environments, the precedent is put on meeting a need, not caring for the environment, and so sourcing rarer more costly materials is never a priority.
As our greenhouse gases warm our Earth and start to see the damaging effects of the way we have lived we need to start considering new methods of creating infrastructure. Green methods. But change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and a conscious movement from the industries that make the biggest impact.
It is predicted that by 2050 the population of our planet will have grown by 3 billion, which means there's going to be many more people to feed, house and sustain. It's also predicted that 70% of the world's population will live in cities, so that means that energy efficient and sustainable building need to be built soon in order to meet demands.
This increase in demand is a fact that can no longer be ignored. The issues of creating buildings to meet the demand without having detrimental effects on other areas needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, because later will undoubtedly be too late to meet energy demands of more people living and working in our cities. These innovative approaches also mean that we can help save the planet by use of renewable energy that will sustain the building by being energy neutral.
Energy efficiency has many positives. It creates jobs, saves money and energy which is going to be essential to both businesses and homes in the future.
In the infographic below we take a look at just how creative, sustainable and energy efficient buildings can be. We take a look at some of the features and creative design concepts that make each of these buildings ‘greener' and more sustainable than their counterparts.
Read on to find out more about some of the world's most incredible Energy Efficient and Sustainable Buildings.
This week Ethical Consumer launched the latest version of its flagship Ethical Consumer Markets Report, this year sponsored by Triodos Bank.
It was more good news for ethical markets with the value of all ethical spending in the UK growing to a robust £38 billion in 2015 up 8.5% from last year.
More ethical goods available
It was clear from the research that more companies, from small entrepreneurs to large multinationals, are bringing more ethical choices than ever before to modern consumer markets. These range from tiny, one person, operations making organic food products in their own kitchens, to Nissan’s latest range of electric cars.
This is the thirteenth consecutive year of growth for their Ethical Purchases section, reﬂecting the continued appeal of ethical markets in the UK.
This continued growth in ethical buying is also an encouraging trend at a point in time where global political developments, for those concerned about environmental and human rights issues, are not all that positive.
Key Trends from the report
1. Ethical Food bucking the trend. Strong sales of Organic and Freedom Food (RSPCA)-certified products helped Ethical Food & Drink sales grow by 5.3%, despite a 0.9% decline in the value of the overall UK food & drink market.
2. The Green Car revolution. The Green Car industry (which includes electric and hybrid cars, as well as cars that emit less than 100g of CO2 per km) continued to boom and is now worth £8.4 billion, owing to improvements to infrastructure and increased consumer awareness.
3. Local Shopping for ethical reasons grows significantly in 2015. Consumers increased ethical spending in their community by 11.7%.
The full Ethical Consumer Markets Report is available from their website.
As times change and we worry more about the environment, going green has become big business for industries of all sizes. From entrepreneurs that work from their homes to small businesses and major corporations, the desire to reduce our carbon footprint and appease our target audience is a top priority. Unfortunately, many business owners only scratch the surface of an eco-friendly workplace. Here are some green solutions you may not have considered for your business:
1. Choose an Energy Efficient Office Space
When shopping for a home, you check to ensure that the building is energy efficient. An inefficient residence would lead to a lot of energy being consumed and a ton of money wasted. The same is true for a commercial property. As you shop for the ideal location to start your business be sure to keep efficiency in mind. You want to find an eco-friendly property like steel buildings. Companies like Armstrong Steel facilitate eco-friendly design in steel manufacturing projects, which can be customised to meet the needs of your company without costing too much.
2. Consider Periodic Telecommuting
Whether you have a team of three employees or thirty, allowing them to work remotely on a regular basis can cut down on energy consumption and save your business money. There are tons of technologies out there you can invest in to make a remote workplace possible. VoIP phone services ensure that phone calls can be answered, email, cloud software and other applications make it easier for employees to interact and collaborate as if they were in the office.
Even if you need your staff to come in the office on occasion, allowing them to stay home even one or two days out of the week would be a few days out of the month that the office building is not consuming any energy thus reducing your carbon footprint.
3. B.Y.O.C. (Bring Your Own Cup)
Coffee and water supplies can really eat at a company’s bottom line. Not to mention the amount of waste that takes place on a daily basis. The average coffee drinker consumes about 2-3 cups of coffee at work per day. Multiply that by the number of employees you have in the office and you’re looking at hundreds of cups, and plastic utensils being thrown away each month. Having employees to bring their own mugs and water bottles to work can cut down on this waste.
4. Shut Down Daily
Do you know how much energy is wasted in an office on a daily basis simply due to devices that are turned off but plugged in? Leaving computers, printers, copiers, and other office equipment on sleep mode or turned off and plugged in can suck the energy like a vampire causing an increase in the energy bill and your carbon footprint. It is ideal to hook all of your devices up to a power strip so that you can turn them off completely and unplug them at the end of a day.
Going green definitely has its advantages for business owners. Not only does it show that the business cares about the environment and their customer’s well-being, but it also saves them money. If you’ve been looking for ways to green your business, you should really consider the above four options as each of them can provide substantial savings and significantly reduce your company’s carbon footprint.
It’s unfortunate that sustainability plays second fiddle in business. The need for businesses to turn over a profit shouldn’t be at the expense of the environment. Businesses need to do more to minimize their contribution to landfill and carbon emissions. Rather than try to implement everything themselves, businesses can leverage technology and the help of sustainability partners in order to make their business more eco-friendly. Here are 5 ways businesses can do more to help the environment.
Correctly disposing printer cartridges.
Over 30 million printer cartridges are sent to landfill every year. The cartridges are harmful to the environment because inks and plastics that are in the cartridges can contaminate the ecosystem, making any contaminated water undrinkable and any contaminated soil unable to grow any agriculture.
Additionally, used printer cartridges can take anywhere from 400 to 1000 years to degrade.
Businesses can help to close the loop by participating in schemes where the original printer manufacturers ethically recycle used printer cartridges. Suppliers like Cartridges Direct have partnered with Cartridges for Planet Ark to help businesses implement a system where they can mail their used printer cartridges to be recycled at no cost to the business. The business only needs to implement a process where their staff will ethically dispose and dispatch the used cartridge so that it is received by the right recycler.
Setting up a stationery recycling station
Businesses waste a lot of money on buying new stationery rather than recycling unused stationery. Set up a stationery station such as a cupboard where employees can place any unused stationery items like pens, pads, books or staplers for other employers to use. This should cut down the business’s stationery expenses and minimise the amount of unused stationery that gets disposed.
Setup recycling categories and partner with organisations that can recycle the items ethically
It’s important that your business encourages its employees to recycle ethically. Make things easier for them by creating disposal boxes that give them the option to recycle items easily. Place bins around the office that give employees the option to dispose:
- General rubbish
Educate people within the business why and how they should dispose their items responsibly.
Minimise the building’s reliance on artificial lighting
Artificial lighting accounts for approximately 15% of businesses overhead expenses. Most businesses that consume electricity are on an electricity grid that generates power by burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal, which causes carbon emissions. Businesses should seek ways to improve the amount of natural light that is used within their business. This can be accomplished by installing skylights, solar tubes, large windows, mirrors and reflective glass and metals.
Additionally, if the business still needs to use artificial lighting, installing energy-efficient lightbulbs can significantly reduce the amount of energy consumption that the business uses. LED lightbulbs can save a business up to 60% on their annual energy bill due to the minimal energy consumption from the bulb’s technology.
Encourage employees to donate their items
A lot of electronics and clothes end up in landfill. Businesses can setup a donation area so that employees can donate any used items from their home to charities such as St. Vincent De Paul. This way, the items are recycled and it lowers the amount of waste going to landfill.
Saving the environment is almost starting to sound like a cliché, but it is more important than ever for the sake of future generations. If the human race wants to preserve the natural resources that we have today and enjoy a healthy quality of life in the future, it’s essential that we implement the necessary sustainable practices.
Sports Direct have hardly been out of the headlines in recent weeks due to its treatment of warehouse staff. But is Sports Direct the only sportswear retailer with a poor workers' rights record?
Ethical Consumer help answer this question in their new guide to sports and outdoor shops.
The guide rates and ranks 13 retailers, looking at their usual range of issues from toxic chemicals and environmental reporting to workers' rights and supply chain management policies.
As you will see from the statistic on the image above it's not a rosy picture. However, they also reveal their Best Buy recommendations showing that some options are better than others.
We hope you find the guide useful and informative.
These days, it's becoming more important than ever for companies to implement green measures. Going green in business is not only a necessity in order to help the environment, but it's also become a critical factor for their success.
There are many ways in which becoming more eco-friendly can benefit a business, from keeping employees happy and healthy, to improving sales and consumer loyalty. You don't have to make huge changes in order to see these benefits, just take a look at some of the suggestions below, and find out more about how going green can improve your business both internally and externally.