Long-term business success hinges on balancing your passions with a dose of common sense. If one of your interests is the environment, greening up your company seems like a natural next step in the evolution of your brand.
In the 2019 State of Green Business report, researchers looked at 30 key metrics for over 2,000 companies. They found 28% more companies set targets for the reduction of water use and carbon production in the past five years. There are many reasons for the shift toward sustainable business, such as higher interest from younger generations in green practices and overall awareness of leaving the planet better for the future.
Making your firm more sustainable will attract like-minded customers, benefit your employees and help you make a positive difference in the world. Here are nine key ways of making your business more eco-friendly.
1. Green up Your Supply Chain
A simple way of creating a more sustainable model is by seeking vendors who use green practices in their own businesses. If you have the choice of buying recycled for a few pennies more on the dollar, invest in an environmentally friendly product. Talk to your current suppliers about your commitment to reducing your carbon footprint and ask how they might help with your efforts.
2. Conserve Water
The average person uses around 88 gallons of water each day. Look for ways to reduce this usage at work and encourage employee awareness of overall water consumption. Install toilets and faucets with WaterSense labels, which use less water than more traditional fixtures. Automatic faucets also prevent issues with someone accidentally leaving a tap running or not turning it all the way off.
3. Reuse Products
Spend time auditing the types of things you use in your corporation and see what can be repurposed or used again. You’ll be surprised at the items you can revamp rather than throwing into the landfill. For example, industries that use methods such as metal die casting can send an old piece to a mill to be repurposed into a new product.
4. Encourage Recycling
Even if you run a very small operation, you can easily promote recycling by placing receptacles in break rooms and office spaces. Have a bin for paper products and another for plastic, and encourage people to put appropriate items in the right ones. Educate your employees on rinsing out plastic containers, because a dirty one can contaminate an entire bin of plastic meant for recycling and wind up in the landfill.
5. Install ENERGY STAR LED Bulbs
Simple changes, such as swapping out your lighting, can have a big impact over time. Even businesses on a small budget can afford new lights. LED bulbs tend to last longer and use less energy. A single 800-lumens halogen bulb costs $6.02 per year to use, while an 800-lumens LED bulb costs only $1.26 per year. Multiply the savings by the number of lightbulbs in your building, and you’ve cut back drastically on energy use. Your workers shouldn’t notice any difference in performance.
6. Reward Employee Efforts
While you should make green changes within your enterprise, you should also encourage staff to make efforts on their own time. Reward them for carpooling or biking to work with gift cards or extra time off. Offer an incentive if they add solar power to their home so they can utilize the credit toward the costs of installing a new power system. Recognize the people who recycle regularly and host an annual party to celebrate your successes as a group.
7. Allow Remote Work
One of the biggest factors contributing to carbon emissions cars. Many people live in the suburbs or rural areas and have no choice but to drive to work, as there is no public transportation near and it is too far to walk or bike. One way of combatting the drain on the ozone layer is allowing employees to go to a four-day workweek or work remotely. Your company may even benefit from those who are more productive in their own homes without the ongoing distractions of a lively office.
8. Pay for an Energy Audit
The Environmental and Energy Study Institute found buildings are responsible for around 40% of carbon emissions in the United States. Invest in an energy audit to see where you might be using electricity you could reduce. For example, some appliances and computers are energy vampires. You can install power strips that prevent a drain on electricity when the items aren’t in use. Bigger changes might include better HVAC systems, energy-efficient windows and adding more natural light to your space. Some power companies offer free energy audits as well, so talk to your local provider and see what’s available.
9. Ditch the Paper
Commit to not using paper any longer. Inform your customers all billing is via electronic means and explain your reasoning for the decision. Provide employees with tablets or laptops so they have no need to print out reports but can read them on their devices.
If companies want to make a lasting impact on the environment, they must become good stewards of the Earth. While promoting sustainable practices both at work and home may not always directly impact your success, you’ll gain the satisfaction of knowing you’ve made a difference for the planet. Start with small steps that help fade your footprints from the world and keep it pristine for those who come after you.
Lexie is a UX content strategist and web designer. She enjoys copious amounts of coffee (with a dash of milk) and walking her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.