How to Become a Green Business – Part 4: Reducing Your Business’s Overall Consumption
A green business (or sustainable business) is a business that causes no negative impact on the local or global environment, the community, or the economy. Green business is both socially and environmentally responsible and is focused on implementing principles and practices that benefit their employees, community, and the planet. Consumers may be particularly drawn to green business because of their reputation as companies that protect environmental resources, ensure the well-being of both employees and those who supply the company, and constantly revise their approaches to make them more aligned with sustainability and reducing environmental impact. Becoming green as a business is not a one-off change; it’s an ongoing endeavor that requires constant learning and improving.
PART 4: REDUCING YOUR BUSINESS’S OVERALL CONSUMPTION
1. Observe what your business uses and wastes
This can include resources such as energy, supplies and other materials. Make this list available to all your employees so that they know how much is being consumed on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.
2. Decide where you can cut back
This is probably the most cautious and most effective beginning point for any established business in terms of starting to go green. By cutting pack, you can start saving your company money almost immediately. Seeing immediate results will give you (and your employees) incentive to keep going.For example, consider making a preliminary goal of cutting back on energy usage. If you decided to use compact-fluorescent lights or LED lights, you will use 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. This means that you will save roughly $200 per bulb over time because these bulbs last longer and use less energy than standard lightbulbs. Use this Energy Savings Calculator to help determine the value of switching to energy efficient bulbs: http://www.bulbs.com/learning/energycalc.aspx.
3. Look at the company’s paper usage
How much paper does your business use daily? Studies show that a typical office disposes approximately 350 pounds of waste paper per employee per year. Can you cut down on your paper use? Try switching to digital procedures to invoice your clients and pay your bills. Scan in important contracts and email them rather than printing them and putting them in the mail. Discourage staff in your office from printing every email or even other documentation.Teach workers how to sort their emails, so they don’t have to rely on hard copies. Encourage them to read necessary presentations, emails, or documents on screen.
When printing is necessary, use both sides of the paper (double-sided printing). To make sure people remember this, it’s helpful if you set your printer to automatically print double-sided. You can also program your fax machine not to print out confirmation pages.
When you do have to use paper, make sure you use post-consumer waste (PCW) paper. PCW paper is made completely from paper that is put in recycling bins and requires 45 percent less energy and makes half the waste of traditional paper making.
4. Provide proper employee training
Be sure to properly train your employees on using the equipment that they need to use. This will help to ensure workers don’t make mistakes or waste resources. While it may not seem like a business practice that will help make your business more green, you may be surprised at the positive impact it will have on the greenness of your company.
5. Check your business’s appliances and machinery
This will give you a better idea of your business’s energy efficiency. This constitutes another area in which you can reduce consumption and waste. Make sure that all of your equipment is up-to-date and working properly.If your appliances or machinery require servicing, make sure it is done regularly. This will make sure that the machinery stays in top condition and will make a more pleasant work experience for your employees as well.
If you are in need of new or updated appliances, look for Energy Star appliances that have labels that will help you to assess their energy requirements.
6. Keep facilities and utilities in good shape
Even the things your company isn’t using directly to make products or selling can be resource wasters. For example, do you have energy-efficient hand dryers in your restrooms, or are you still depending on paper towels? Check things like faucets and toilets. If you have a leaky faucet or a cracked toilet, get it fixed to avoid wasting valuable resources.
Make sure that your staff turns off all the lights and equipment at the end of the day to avoid wasting energy when no one is at work. It’s helpful to assign someone to be responsible for this daily. Put up signs around the workplace to remind everyone. After a quarter or a year, put up charts showing a comparison of energy savings thanks to employees’ efforts. This will help to motivate your employees to keep up energy-conscious behaviors.
Switch to energy-efficient appliances. Compact fluorescent bulbs use 15 to 20 percent of the energy of an incandescent bulb, last longer and produce as much light.
7. Incentivize a reduction in consumption
Post a list of energy, supply, and material usage (you can focus on how much is used per month, per quarter, or per year), and alongside this list, post a list of goals for the end of a period of time. Include an incentive if your company can reach your goals. For example, you may want to incentivize your employees with a casual dress day for reaching a resource-reduction goal, or you may want to create an intra-company competition that pits one department against another and offers something like an extra vacation day for the department that reduces consumption the most.
8. Find out if your state has any ‘green rebates’ or incentives for energy reduction
Many states will help you with appliance replacements, light bulb replacements, insulation, window replacements, etc. Do a Google search for free energy audits. Many states will perform these energy audits for free, and some will pay for some or all necessary repairs. This can help to identify simple changes that can be made to make yours a greener business.