How to Be Environmentally Conscious in a Small Business
All over the world, businesses have become more accountable for their carbon footprints, and have taken measures to appear "green" to the media and investors. Conserving energy can save your company considerable expenses in utility bills as well as refine your company's public image. Large corporations have taken drastic steps to "green" themselves - Google invested heavily in wind power while Apple manufactured completely recyclable toxin-free computer products. While small businesses may not be adequately equipped to do a whole eco-friendly makeover, some simple changes around your office will save you money as well as improve your image. Here are some ideas to help you get started.
Energy Efficiency Conserving energy is easy. Set office computers' power saving settings to the maximum to allow computers to go into standby and reduce energy consumption dramatically. Buy energy-saving light bulbs, which are initially more expensive but with several times the lifespan with lower energy consumption. Compare other office equipment, such as power strips, monitors and printers, to gauge power consumption. Going with the greener choice will lead to considerable savings on your electric bill.
Construction If money allows, have a contractor specializing in energy efficient construction renovate your workplace. Using more energy efficient windows, lights, insulation, air conditioning and plumbing systems can significantly lower your utility bills and improve your company's appearance. Also make sure your landscapers and gardeners are using environmentally friendly gardening products. Also make sure your cleaning products - such as hand soap, sanitizer and detergents are environmentally friendly and free of pollutants.
Recycle Rather than toss out old computer equipment, where it will inevitably end up in a landfill, take advantage of the "asset recycling" programs offered by HP, Dell, Staples and Office Depot to properly recycle the machines. Recycle paper products and re-use paper if only one side has been printed on - if the copy is not intended for professional use. Limit the amount of paper consumption per employee to save paper and money. Better yet, go digital and do all your filing online on your office server or a cloud-based solution. A paperless environment is far more efficient and environmentally friendly than constantly printing and filing paperwork, and far more accessible for future reference. Remove paper cups from your office, and ask your employees to bring their own mugs from home.
Transportation Switch your company vehicles to hybrids, which can save money on fuel and help your company qualify for tax breaks ranging between $4,000 to $40,000. Encourage your employees to carpool, or allow some employees to telecommute several days a month, if their workload allows. Cut down the frequency of employee business trips, saving money on air travel and fuel, and set up business meetings digitally. This reduces the average carbon footprint of your employees and helps your company's bottom line.
Other Options Keep an eye out for other options of how to make your products more eco-friendly. Often times the more environmentally friendly materials are the same price or cheaper than the common options. Make sure you promote your office environment and products accordingly, as customers love products from companies which they can feel good about supporting.
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