Operating a sustainable business is about more than benefiting the planet. Going green can also streamline your daily business tasks, improve your brand reputation and attract new talent.
While steps such as recycling are helpful, the way we work has the highest potential impact on reducing businesses’ carbon footprints. Companies can become more eco-friendly by embracing modern technology, especially cloud-based computing.
It can take time for organizations to make lasting changes. Often, business leaders view environmental initiatives as too complicated, time-consuming or futile.
Prioritizing sustainability can be as simple as keeping up to date with modern computing and cloud-based technology. Here are five ways to harness the benefits of going green without disrupting your small business’s day-to-day operations.
The cloud is one of the business world’s most significant opportunities to lessen the impact of climate change. The best cloud providers are growing leaders in emissions savings, as their efficient data centers and ongoing innovation reduce IT’s impact on the environment. Undoubtedly, more and more companies will embrace the cloud as the technology continues to advance and organizations embrace environmental initiatives.
Underutilized IT equipment, such as hardware and servers, is a massive contributor to energy consumption and harms the environment, not to mention a small business’s bottom line. On-site equipment is typically overprovisioned, resulting in an abundance of inefficient and underused hardware. As a result, small businesses have been searching for solutions to reduce their energy costs and consumption while maintaining service levels and responsiveness.
Businesses that replace typical desktop computers with hosted clients slash their carbon emissions and power consumption because they reduce production, packaging, shipping, and the use and incorrect disposal of traditional desktop computers. Cloud providers are poised to make a giant dent in the nation’s carbon emissions by reducing the reliance on costly hardware.
Remote work can reduce carbon emissions in various ways, as well as improve employee happiness and team morale. Telework cuts the need for energy-guzzling, expensive office spaces and carbon-costly commutes, and opens up a new world of talent for you to consider.
Companies have found varying levels of success in saving energy through remote work. While some don’t see a significant benefit, businesses such as Salesforce calculated that remote work cut emissions by 29 percent per employee.
The elimination of paper is a relatively manageable but transformative action that the business world can collectively take to reduce climate change. Computerized management systems allow offices to scan paper documents, creating a highly navigable and secure library and substantially reducing paper consumption.
In 2021, the pulp and paper sector was responsible for about 190 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, a historic high for the industry, according to the International Energy Agency. Paper production projections are on the rise until at least 2030. Using energy sources other than fossil fuels can help reduce the heat needed for the paper and pulp drying process.
As workforce teams go remote, technology has been implemented in almost every aspect of the business. Reliance on tech creates excessive electronic waste — a mountain of cellphones, computers, tablets and flat-screen TVs.
Unfortunately, unwanted technology is often not disposed of properly through responsible recycling. Instead, most companies dump the old electronics into landfills, or ship them to developing countries to be burned, causing harm to human life and the environment.
A simple Google search can help you find an electronics recycling center in your city. In addition, consider partnering with a charity in your area that could distribute these devices to people in need.
Most web hosting providers have large carbon footprints and don’t power their services with renewable energy. Green web hosting is affordable and can help your company be eco-conscious. Companies such as GreenGeeks, DreamHost, Solve and iPage provide green hosting solutions that won’t break the bank.
A typical web host company contains hundreds to thousands of rack-mounted hardware that runs 24/7, causing a massive drain on energy. Web hosting companies can go green in three main ways:
Incorporating eco-friendly practices isn’t just good for the planet; it also helps businesses. Here are some of the benefits of going green:
Businesses can reduce their operational costs by streamlining processes so they don’t rely solely on equipment, paper or other resources. This also allows businesses to be more mobile and to adapt more quickly to the needs of their industry.
Further savings are possible when you consider federal and state tax incentives for cutting carbon emissions and opportunities from government entities that require eco-friendly products or services.
If you updated a commercial building for energy efficiency after Dec. 31, 2017, you may qualify for a federal tax deduction under Section 179D of the Internal Revenue Code.
Becoming more eco-friendly also opens your company to partners, talent and customers with similar values. More than two-thirds of the consumers surveyed in the CGS Consumers Sustainability Survey, for instance, said they would pay more for sustainable products, with 68 percent of Gen Z shoppers making an eco-friendly purchase within the past year. This is just one reason implementing an eco-friendly business strategy can create long-term consumer loyalty.
Making your business known as an active participant in curbing climate change could do wonders for your reputation, thereby placing you in an elite class of conscientious companies worldwide. These companies will put themselves ahead as consumers’ tolerance for passive eco-friendliness wanes.
Robin Hau contributed to the research and writing in this article.