Growing the Green: How to Run a More Environmentally Friendly Business

Business.com / Starting a Business / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Being environmentally conscious and making a point of it is sound business sense nowadays. Discover tips to help your business today.

As a business owner, you may either believe or not believe in your obligation to protect the environment and limit the environmental impact of your business whenever possible.

However, no matter what your personal position is and whether you consider it to be an ethical point, being environmentally conscious and making a point of it is sound business sense nowadays.

Being an environmentally friendly company can be turned into a fine selling point people feel good when dealing with green businesses and are more likely to buy from them, and you are less likely to run into trouble with environmental legislature what’s not to like?

However, reducing and controlling the impact of your business, especially if it is a large one, may sound like a monumental task but it needn’t be one. In this article, we will cover a number of ways almost any business can lessen its footprint.

Related Article: It's Easy Being Green: How It Pays to Go Green at Your Business

1. Run an Environmental Risk Assessment

Making an effort is good, but unless you understand what the environmental impact of your business actually is, you cannot do much to decrease it. Doing an assessment will help you identify the most important problems with your company and find the ways of alleviating them.

2. Go Paperless

Business, any kind of business, consumes a staggering amount of paper to be properly run but in our day and age, it can be greatly decreased and, in some cases, eliminated whatsoever. Using electronic documents for correspondence, electronic signatures for verifying deals, keeping information in cloud storages in addition to decreasing the quantity of paper used by your business, all these measures increase its efficiency by making the necessary info more readily available and communication faster.

3. Use Recycled Paper in Office

Use recycled paper in all situations where you cannot go without it at all. In addition to reducing the amount of wood to be otherwise used for the production of paper, recycled paper needs about 90 percent less water and half as much energy to manufacture than paper produced by traditional means. At the moment, only around 10 percent of paper used in the United States is recycled by making an effort to use it, you increase the demand and tip the balance a little bit.

Paper Recycling in the Office Chart

Related Article:Earth Day Aspirations: Saving Money While Saving the Environment

4. Flex-Time Scheduling and Telecommuting

If there is no need for all your employees to be physically present in the office all the time, consider letting them work from home or driving to work outside of rush hours. Not only can it lead to a boost of efficiency (at least in some people), but also saves time and, what’s most important reduces greenhouse gasses emission.

5. Create a Carpool Program

Fewer cars mean less emission. You can never know if your employees are willing to participate in a carpool program until you try it out. In many cases, they have nothing against the idea but don’t know each other well enough to inquire where other members of the staff live. By establishing a program, you will make it much easier for them.

6. Invest into Kitchen Facilities and Utensils

It may sound like a small thing, but a small thing does accumulate. By providing a kitchen that allows employees bring their own food from home and real utensils helps your staff save on meals and avoid using disposable utensils. Plastic cups, plates, knives and forks used by a single office in the course of time amount to a lot of trash, after all.

7. Use Low-Waste Manufacturing Methods

You can either organize your own production lines around low-waste manufacturing methods or make sure your suppliers use them. It isn’t as hard as you may have been led to believe even notoriously high-waste industries, like plastic manufacturing, move on to greener methods, for example, plastic injection molding. This method is environmentally friendly in three ways:

  1. It can use recycled materials, to begin with
  2. It produces minimal amounts of waste
  3. What waste it produces can usually be recycled

8. Minimize Packaging

If your business involves transporting or delivering items, you may consider taking a closer look at how it is done to cut down costs on shipping, paper waste, and energy. Try to minimize the amount of packaging used, and convey this requirement to your suppliers. Make a point of avoiding using all non-biodegradable materials like Styrofoam.

9. Improve Your Recycling Program

By promoting recycling behavior in your employees and/or visitors, you not only improve your own footprint but create a chance of this behavior spilling over into other areas of their lives. According to statistics, in spite of all centralized attempts to promote and enforce recycling, a lot of recyclables still end up in trash bound for landfills.

Your first step would be establishing waste stations with several containers for different types of waste (paper, organic, metal, plastic), placing clear tags on them and color-coding them so that employees can immediately tell them apart. And, of course, making it clear for your staff that using them properly is as important a part of company culture as the creation of facilities.

10. Recycling Electronic Equipment

In most cases, devices like PCs, cell phones, printers, copiers and suchlike can be recycled you simply have to look for programs accepting these kinds of equipment in your area, as well as encourage your employees to dispose of their own waste in the same manner.

Related Article:Cultivating Sustainability: How to Ensure Your Company's Green Initiatives Take Root

11. Buy for Quality

When buying equipment, go for high-quality devices that will last and won’t break or quickly get obsolete, requiring a replacement and contributing to manufacturing waste. It may require a greater up-front investment, but is likely to pay off in the long term.

As you may see, there are many diverse ways any business can improve its environmental standing both fulfill your obligations and make your company more attractive to clients and partners. Some of these methods require considerable investments, others ask for more of a psychological effort but either way, they can be a good business practice.

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