Earth Day is right around the corner, held annually on April 22nd. Earth Day presents an opportunity for your business to make a difference, big or small.
The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing damage from the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. The first Earth Day was held in 1970, with 20 million Americans across the U.S. taking to streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment.
“Going green” is more and more important in today’s consumer marketplace. A brand’s social purpose and green footprint are among the factors that influence purchasing decisions, reports Nielsen. A Nielsen study showed half of all consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products and services from businesses that are committed to social and environmental impact.
Here are easy ways a small business owner can honor the environment and celebrate Earth Day.
Embrace Cloud Computing
A Microsoft study showed that companies could reduce their carbon emissions by simply moving to a cloud-based network system. According to the study, relying on the cloud applications like email, content sharing and customer relationship management, allows smaller businesses (100 users or fewer) to reduce their carbon emissions by as much as 90%.
For more information on cloud computing, visit the SmartBiz Loans Small Business Blog: Why Small Businesses Should Invest in Cloud Technology.
Nationwide data shows that three out of four commuters drive in their car alone, leading to road congestion and air pollution. Reducing vehicles on the road is an important way to be environmentally friendly. Consider starting a rideshare program, offering incentives to employees who carpool, use public transportation or even bike/walk to work. A rideshare program helps your employees save money, can lower stress and helps air quality.
Track Energy Use
There’s a free online tracker to help you calculate energy use. The Environmental Protection Agency created the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager®. This tool helps to benchmark the performance of one building or a portfolio of buildings in a secure environment. The Portfolio Manager helps small business owners understand energy use, while also helping to evaluate ways to improve energy consumption.
Even small changes can have a big impact. Make it a company policy to eliminate lights or other electronics that use energy whenever it’s not necessary.
Watch Your Water
Every business consumes water. According to the SBA, the more you use, the more you will benefit from optimizing water use. The first thing to look at is use of water related to your power bill. If it seems that you are being charged for more than you use, you might have a leaking pipe, fixture or seal. If you determine that your business is leak free, the next step is to install water-efficient appliances and controls that will turn off faucets automatically. If you have outdoor landscaping, explore water efficient plants. Finally, take a look at your water heater. Install an insulation blanket if it’s older than 7 years or purchase an energy-efficient water heater. Check with your local water agency to explore low-cost or free programs that might be in place to help you conserve and save money. More information can be found on the EPA website.
Implement a volunteer program and look for opportunities to support environmentally responsible non-profit organizations. This could include money donations or joining a cleanup or tree-planting event. Consumers will appreciate your efforts to green-up and cleanup your community.
Earth Day is just one day of awareness. Small business owners should concentrate on conservation efforts year-round. For more environmentally friendly ideas, check out this article: 60 Ways Small Businesses Can Make a Big Impact on Earth Day (and Everyday).
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