You, as a business owner, have more power than you may realize to make a change in the environment. These days, there are countless services and products to choose from to help your business. If you want to stand out, you’d do best to choose the greener options. You’ll feel good when you can show the public that you care about the world.
If you’re not sure what ways you can go green, don’t worry — here’s a nice list of ideas to get you started.
Put Plastic in its Place
Plastic can seriously damage the environment. We use it in so many ways without realizing the potential damage. These days, many cities now have banned plastic bags. This is good news — plastic bags can cause serious damage to the environment.
So, how can we replace plastic? Some companies such as Whole Foods Market replaced their plastic grocery bags with ones made of sugar-cane waste. Rather than lasting a thousand years, these containers decompose in 30 days. If you use plastic hangers, containers, or other items that eventually get tossed out, make sure to collect and recycle all of it.
Use Better Bags
This also raises the question: paper or plastic? Plastic harms the environment since it doesn’t decompose, but paper harms it because we need to cut down forests to make it.
So, what’s the answer? Neither. More and more companies have embraced the idea of tote bags, especially for groceries. You could even create promotional tote bags as a cool way to incorporate this new system into your business. For example, you can create custom tote bags to represent your company, often for less than $2 each, and sell them for a bit more or even give them away without taking a big hit — and customers get to walk away with a nice new bag for their products, while simultaneously promoting your company and brand.
Use Post-Consumer Waste Products
Post-consumer waste, or PCW products, comes entirely from paper that we recycle every day. It’s our hard work in taking care of the environment finally coming back around to help us out in an immediately obvious way. The process to make the paper out of recycled products only uses 55 percent of the energy normally used to make paper, and also creates only half of the waste.
If you can, though, you should skip using paper entirely. Businesses use paper more than anybody else, so the more areas you can find to cut it out, the more you’re helping the environment. At least when using PCW paper products, you’ll have the least negative impact.
Use Greener Cleaners
Many cleaners can harm the environment. Try to use biodegradable cleaners. Not only does this help the environment, it helps ensure a healthier workplace for you, your employees and customers. Harsh toxins and chemicals can not only hurt your eyes from inhalation, but they also weaken your skin considerably. These days, you shouldn’t have any problem finding green cleaners sold in bulk.
Replace the Electronics
Light bulbs and other electronics can use an outrageous amount of energy, considering their output. Take light bulbs, for instance. Products such as CFL and LED lights might cost you more money, but they use so much less energy and last far longer than other bulbs, so you aren’t losing any money in the long run when purchasing them. You can save up to $200 in energy costs per bulb. The Environmental Working Group has information and calculators to help you see how much you can save in this aspect.
Energy Star appliances have labels to let you know exactly what kind of impact you’re having. It tells you how much money and energy you’ll use over time for each product, so you can make better decisions for your company and the environment. Again, don’t fear spending a bit more; the benefits over time will more than pay you back.
Use Alternative Energy
Many areas of the country now — especially ones with plastic bag bans — have utility providers that offer greener service options. You can choose to run your company on one of these plans. They have shockingly low price differences, usually, between the two types of services. These greener power plans use energy generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, geothermal, hydropower and plant matter.
Use Green Web Hosting
One of the lesser known ways to help the environment, you can actually use a greener web network for your company’s computer system. These web hosting companies use renewable energy, plant trees and buy carbon offsets so that they can mitigate the cost of running their environmentally friendly systems. Because of this, most of them end up costing you pretty much the same, or sometimes even less, than other web hosting services. You can still get unlimited bandwidth and disk space just like any other server.
Get an Energy Audit
Hopefully you or the property owner performed some kind of energy efficiency check on your building when you started your business there. If not, or if it’s been a while, you’ll certainly benefit from an energy audit. You’d be amazed by how many small cracks or leaks in your building can cause significant increases in energy usage. Many states offer free energy audits, and sometimes even will pay for or help fund the repairs. You can simply Google “free energy audits” and the name of your state to find out whether you can get one for your business.
There’s so many ways to help the environment. Think of everything as recycling. Don’t let any recyclable materials end up in the trash, and train your employees to think the same way. Always go for the greener products; use your knowledge of products and the environment to make better decisions. Consider buying used products when it won’t hinder the business or your customers. You can change the way we impact the environment, so consider getting your business on track.
Photo Credit: katerha