Modern small businesses are a serious driver of growth, and some estimates peg the net benefit of going green at upwards of $15 billion over a decade.
Your business may not save billions each year, but there are plenty of ways that you can go green while streamlining your business at the same time. Here are ten easy ways for you to go green, starting today.
Go Digital, Where Possible
Depending on the industry that you’re in, there may be a need to maintain paper copies of certain documents, but you would be surprised at home of your business can be done digitally.
Whenever possible, scanning documents and then shredding them for recycling or using them in more creative ways can cut down on your environmental impact dramatically, and the financial and environmental cost of storing your documents online is a fraction of what it would cost to store physical copies of everything that you own.
Buy From Local Businesses
While it isn’t going to earn you an award for being green, buying as many products as possible from local businesses ensures that you are not only supporting your town or city, but that you’re minimizing shipping costs, which has both a financial impact and an environmental one. Purchasing your products locally is an easy way to save on both fronts.
It wouldn’t surprise you to know that your employees dislike commuting. In fact, everybody hates commuting! While the fact that you do need to commute to your office isn’t likely to change in the near future, you can begin to accept or even encourage remote work as a means of saving your employees’ some time each week. This also has the nice side effect of reducing the environmental impact caused by commuting, which adds a huge amount of damaging carbon dioxide and other pollutants to the air each year.
Embrace Remote Workers
The workplace today is increasingly digital, and while many people like the idea of working with colleagues directly, more and more workers are trading that in for an entirely remote work arrangement.
This arrangement allows them to work from home every day, and embracing this trend will save you a lot of money while helping you stay green, and you can use video chat tools like Agora.io to stay connected and create the feeling of a virtual office space in lieu of a physical one. For every employee that’s remote, you’ll be benefiting the environment by investing in less office space, which uses energy, and you’ll be eliminating one more commute, a major source of pollution today.
Establish An Online Presence
Most of your customer base today lives online, and having an online presence makes good business sense anyway, but it’s also a great green hack! With an online presence, customers can find your business anywhere, meaning that they don’t have to drive to your store or otherwise meet with you in person.
On top of the obvious benefits from limiting the amount of driving done, being online means that you can reduce the size or hours of your store, or even eliminate it entirely, saving huge amounts of energy and other costs each year as well.
Use Shredded Scrap Paper For Shipping
Most companies today recycle paper in some way, but shredding your paper and using it to package shipments is a much better option than even simply recycling the paper. Instead of requiring a company to come pick up that paper and recycle it (an environmental cost), you help protect the environment by replacing a cost center (packing materials) that need to be shipped with something that you would throw away anyway.
Purchase Carbon Offsets
No business can go completely green on their own, but if you do want to offset the remaining environmental impact that you do have, then purchasing carbon offsets is the way to do it.
Carbon offsets are basically a credit that you buy, which funds projects to reduce greenhouse gases. When you have a good idea of what your environmental impact is as a business, using these offsets will allow you neutralize your environmental impact, albeit for a price.
Try Switching to Renewable Energy Sources
Using renewable energy used to be difficult and complex, but now you can use renewable power in a variety of ways. For starters, you may want to consider contacting your utility company to see if you can switch your energy use over to renewable power. Many utilities are allowing you to do that now, and it’s an easy way to support renewables without much extra effort.
Decrease The Energy Impact Of Your Computers
Computers, while allowing us to improve our environmental impact, also have some environmental cost as well. This comes in the energy that your computer uses, the environmental impact of building that computer, and even the environmental impact of its disposal.
One way to limit this environmental cost is by setting your computers to shut off every night at a predetermined time, which will save energy overnight. You can even set them to turn back on in the morning, so your employees won’t know that they were off in the first place.
Reward Mass Transit Use
A recent report by the US Census Bureau found that 86% of workers still commute to work in a car, and 75% of them are driving alone. This may have to do with the needs of your job, but given these numbers it’s obvious that there are many people commuting to work even with viable (and greener) public transportation options or when they could instead use car sharing.
If you’d like to make a positive impact on the environment, you could use a program designed to allow employees to pay for their transit pass pre-tax, but an even more effective way to drive use of public transportation would be to pay for the pass entirely, making it an obvious choice for your employees.
Is your business trying to go green? What have you started to do differently? Let us know in the comments.
JT Ripton is a freelance business and technology writer out of Tampa. He loves to write to inform, educate and provoke minds. Follow him on Twitter @JTRipton.