We only have one planet, but we haven’t been doing a very good job of taking care of it. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce our impact on the planet that won’t seriously impact our lives. Businesses have more power than most individuals to effect change, too. People spend most of their waking time during the week at work, after all. If you can get your employees to change their routines at work, there’s a greater chance they’ll take positive steps at home, too. Try out some of these ideas to make your company a little greener.
Get Rid of the Vampires
Electronic devices still draw power while they’re not on, driving up your power costs. In most offices, powered down devices consume roughly 40% of the total power used. Have everyone either unplug their power strips at the end of the day or have your company purchase smart power strips that turn off power to peripherals — things like monitors, printers, lamps and speakers — when the main device, usually a computer, is powered off.
Ditch the Paper
Do you really need to print out every company policy update and PowerPoint presentation? Probably not. Organize your email inbox to make things easier to find; teach everyone else to organize, too. Have your employees back up their files to external drives or a company server instead of keeping physical documents in filing cabinets. You can even send clients digital documents and let them e-sign instead of using physical contracts. Accept PayPal payments to cut down on the hassle of managing checks and paper invoices.
Find a Buddy
No business is an island. You work with several other businesses, so encourage them to partner with yours and start a green movement in your area or industry. Sponsor events that benefit the environment, like planting trees, and donate to worthy environmental causes.
Keep Track of Consumption
You might think you’ve got it all together, but if you’re not keeping track of everything you consume, you really have no idea. How many pads of paper do your employees use for taking notes? How many reams do you go through weekly in your printers and copy machines? You don’t have to track every single paper clip and rubber band, but by separating and organizing these expenses in your budget or tracking them separately, you can get a good view of how much trash you’re generating and take steps to cut it.
Make Your Vehicles More Efficient
You don’t have to buy brand new eco-friendly trucks to make your deliveries better for the environment, though that wouldn’t hurt. Just switch from paper logs to electronic driver logs. They can eliminate a lot of paper consumption, provide more efficient routes for your drivers, let you dispatch trucks more quickly and help you predict when trucks need routine maintenance better, which will keep your vehicles’ gas mileage up, saving money and helping the environment.
Once you’ve figured out how much you consume and waste, start working on getting everyone to recycle things they’d normally throw away. Soda cans, paper (shred sensitive documents first) and plastics are the most obvious choices, but you don’t have to stop there. Have people bring in old sports equipment they don’t use anymore and donate it to sports programs for children. This allows people to get rid of things they don’t use while also supporting a worthy cause. Everybody wins!
Get an Upgrade
This can be one of the more expensive items on the list if you’re in an old building, but it can save you money so try it out. Upgrade your windows and shading so you can reduce the heated or cooled air lost to the outdoors. Install light shelves to give your office free, natural lighting. Replace your old lamps with LED bulbs or high efficiency fluorescents to reduce power consumption when you do use artificial lighting.
You don’t have to build your offices out of reclaimed materials or spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on solar panels to reduce your business’s carbon footprint; just make a few tweaks to your company’s normal practices. Track what you consume, then find ways to reduce that consumption, whether it’s electricity, fuel or consumer goods.