Do you run an eco-friendly enterprise? That’s a business that isn’t harmful to the environment. While it may be difficult for a small business owner to implement green policies, there are several low-cost ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Read on for ideas you can put in place easily.
1. Go Paperless
Here are some troubling recycling statistics from the University of Southern Indiana. Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S. Americans use 85,000,000 tons of paper a year; about 680 pounds per person. The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year.
Fortunately, thanks to technology, there’s one easy and cost effective way for a small business to immediately cut down on paper consumption – cloud technology. According to a study by Intuit, 37 percent of small businesses in the United States have adapted to cloud computing, and the percentage will double by the year 2020.
Data storage, file sharing and email are the most common uses of cloud technology for small businesses, according to NerdWallet. Dropbox, Microsoft Office, and Google top the list as the most popular small business cloud products.
Business apps can also cut down on paper. Review our top picks for apps that can make your life easier and cut down on overall paper use, printing, and copying: Business Operations Software for More Efficiency.
2. Offer Employees Remote Work
Telecommuting remote workers have increased by 115% in the last decade. While large corporations have been slow to adapt, small business owners are embracing the opportunity to offer remote work. One of the big benefits? Saving money.
When you have a remote team, your real estate/rental costs are greatly-or totally-reduced. Even if you need employees on site, you’ll save by being able to rent or purchase a smaller space. Additionally, costs related to computers, phones, electricity, heating and air conditioning, and more will be less.
Another benefit of remote work? It makes employees happier and more productive. Employees who enjoy work are more likely to stick around, saving you the expense of hiring a new employee and training them. Here’s more information on the benefits of remote work: Why Offering Remote Work Helps Employee Retention.
By offering your employees flexibility to work remotely, you can beat the competition with a more motivated staff and lower overhead costs.
3. Cut Energy Costs with a Solar Power Generation/Heating System
Utility prices are rising and the cost of buying and installing solar systems is going down. Solar power can be a sustainable and cost-effective energy alternative for business owners who own the commercial property where they operate. It’s even a great alternative for businesses run from residential homes.
If you’re looking for small business energy tax credits, start with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA provides federal tax credit IRS forms to help determine eligibility. Home builders, manufacturers, commercial buildings, and hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles can all lead to a helpful credit when tax time rolls around.
To summarize, embracing solar power can lead to lower energy costs and might equal tax credits. Look into your options today!
4. Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
A big misunderstanding about eco-friendly living is that it’s too expensive and doesn’t make a big difference. When it comes to cleaning products, this just isn’t true. Using eco-friendly products can actually be very cost-effective.
Eco-friendly products aren’t just good for the environment, they’re good for you and your employees. Going green while cleaning can help improve overall indoor air quality, reducing health risks like skin irritations or even respiratory infections.
If you clean your own space, like a home office, consider cleaning with baking soda and vinegar – effective and inexpensive! If you have a cleaning crew, encourage them to use commercial cleaners that are certified to be environmentally friendly.
5. Choose Local Eco-Alternatives
There are many ways to impact the economy positively in your community. Here are a few ideas:
- Use upcycling to furnish your office. Upcycling is a method where old or discarded materials are converted into something reusable. Visit thrift shops, antique stores, or flea markets to look for good quality desks, chairs, tables, lighting, and other furnishings you need for your office.
- Use electric scooters or a bicycle for transportation to and from work. Encourage your employees to ditch their cars if possible. It’s not always convenient, of course. You can also encourage employees to use public transportation by offering a commuter per diem they can use for a bus pass, train ticket, or other mode of transportation. Just taking one car off the road has environmental benefits. If you use cars or other vehicles in your business, look for the green alternatives. Environmentally friendly cars aren’t just small sedans. There are bigger commercial vehicles that use clean energy.
- Put time-tested recycling practices in place. Recycling is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to be eco-friendlier. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 75% of solid waste thrown away is recyclable. Encourage your employees to pitch in by making recycling easier. Consider putting paper recycling bins under desks and near copy machines and printers. Set up clearly marked bins for recycling in the break room so employees know exactly what should be put in them. For more recycling ideas read 9 Tips for Small Business Recycling from waste experts Pegex, Inc.