When it comes to a business going green, the pros significantly outweigh the cons. In most cases, the decision saves money for the company — even if there is a slightly higher upfront cost — and it does wonders for the environment. On top of that, the business will gain a reputation as being eco-friendly.
Making greener decisions doesn’t have to be hard; it’s simply a matter of tweaking some company policies, shifting to a paper-free presence, and purchasing the right products and services.
Going green doesn’t mean bringing more plants into the office — though that certainly increases the decor.
Go green while making your employees very happy by implementing a telecommuting program. Even a part-time work-from-home system can save gas, transportation-based emissions, and energy used by turning on computers, lights, and other electrics within the office. For tenacious workers, a telecommuting program can even result in the employee being more productive.
Save money on postage and cut down on paper usage by sending electronic invoices, quotes, and statements, as well as other paper products, to clients, colleagues, and employees.
When you do have to print something on paper, use post-consumer waste (PCW) products, which use 45 percent less energy to create. Pay it forward by recycling all your paper products, too.
Reduce Energy Consumption
If you haven’t done so already, make the switch to compact-fluorescent (CFL) or LED lights. It costs more to purchase these bulbs upfront, but they can save you up to $200 per bulb because they last so much longer and use less energy.
When an appliance dies, replace it with a greener option — look for Energy Star labels that help you determine the appliance’s energy requirements. Again, this might be a higher cost upfront, but will pay out in the long run.
Reduce After-Hours Energy Drain
Long after everyone has gone home for the evening or weekend, machines left on can drain energy from your office. Designate certain employees to double-check that the fax machine, copiers, printers, and other equipment have been shut down properly. You can also invest in “smart” power strips that determine when the machine isn’t being used and turn off the power supply.
Switch to Green Web Hosting
For nearly every service you use as a business owner, there’s likely a greener alternative. Such is the case with your web host. Switch to a provider that utilizes eco-friendly practices, such as renewable energy, buying carbon offsets, or planting trees, to reduce the environmental impact of running servers and their infrastructure. Options include GreenGeeks and HostGator.
Invest in Hybrid Cars
If you have a fleet of company cars, make a smarter choice by replacing them with hybrid vehicles. Not only will you impact the environment, but you can also qualify for an IRS tax credit.
When it comes to transportation, there are other strategies you can implement, too — encourage employees to use public transportation, set up a carpool, or bike or walk to work when possible.
Host Virtual Meetings
Although convening face-to-face with clients and coworkers has its benefits, it also has its costs — particularly when those clients and coworkers are scattered across the country (or the globe). Take advantage of virtual technology such as Skype to host a meeting without requiring the monetary and environmental expense of traveling near and far.
End the use of plastic water bottles in the office by installing a water filter.
Stock Up on Greener Products
Sometimes, it’s the little thing that can make a difference. Simple office supplies such as paper towels, packing materials, cleaning supplies, and stationery can be made greener by purchasing either PCW products or non-toxic, environmentally friendly materials.
If your employees love cold bottled water, invest in an office water filter and gift each employee a personalized, reusable water bottle so you don’t contribute to the millions of plastic bottles disposed of per year.
Whether it’s a big decision, such as replacing company cars, or something as simple as nixing plastic water bottles, making greener decisions for your business has never been easier. Make the switch, and the planet — and your wallet — will thank you.
Kelsey Castle is a freelance writer and editor who focuses on small business topics, such as going green, and business personalities such as David Kiger.