Making meaningful efforts to be more eco-friendly has become a moral imperative. But it’s not just good for the planet—it’s also good for your bottom line. It boosts sales, increases employee satisfaction and productivity, reduces turnover and new hiring costs, and cuts overhead.
Increasingly, consumers want to support socially and environmentally responsible companies. This makes going green a great branding, marketing, and PR initiative. Plus, today’s younger talented employees (and many older ones, too!) want to work for an organization that prioritizes an environmentally friendly approach, helping you attract and retain the best workers.
Going green also cuts overhead in a variety of ways. For example, it reduces energy usage and bills, as well as materials costs.
Below is a long list of tips to make a small business greener while simultaneously boosting your profitability. Of course, there are lots of industry-specific ways any organization can become more eco-conscious, but for this post, we’re sticking to general ideas that all or most businesses (and nonprofits, agencies, and other organizations) can implement.
How to Be a More Eco-Friendly Business
- Stop using so much paper! There’s almost always an environmentally friendly digital alternative for any type of internal or external communication, document storage, etc.
- Place recycling bins around the office and other work spaces
- Buy recycled paper and other products (don’t just look for the recycling symbol on the packaging, because this is an unregulated designation; buy products labeled “100% PCW,” which stands for post-consumer waste and is an assurance that the product is truly recycled)
- Recycle ink and toner cartridges at a local big box store that takes them
- Use natural, biodegradable, eco-friendly cleaning products in the workplace
- Arrange walk- or bike-to-work days
- Facilitate carpooling among employees
- Provide passes for employees to take public transportation, or offer other incentives
- Allow for work-from-home days and telecommuting positions when possible to reduce commuting and on-site energy needs
- Encourage employees to bring reusable water bottles, mugs, tumblers, food containers, etc. to cut down on waste—particularly plastics
- Stock the office kitchen with reusable dishes and cutlery rather than disposable products
- Don’t stock the office kitchen with single-serving packets of condiments, seasonings, etc.
- Use traditional coffee pots instead of single-cup brewing machines, because even though they’re convenient, those coffee pods create a massive amount of waste (and they’re more expensive)
- Turn the lights off in rooms that aren’t in use
- Install energy-efficient LEDs (light-emitting diodes) or CFLs (compact fluorescent lights)
- Set desktop computers and laptops to go into sleep mode after a short time not in use; turn them off overnight
- Furnish your workplace with recycled pieces and/or those made out of sustainable, biodegradable materials
- Replace old appliances with new energy-efficient models (look for the Energy Star logo)
- Donate furniture and appliances to Habitat for Humanity or other organizations instead of throwing them out when you replace them
- Check with local schools, charities, electronics retailers, or the manufacturer to find a place to donate or recycle electronics you’re getting rid of, rather than add them to a landfill
- Request an energy audit from your utility company (which is usually offered for free); implement high-priority recommended changes, repairs, and upgrades
- Fix leaks and other plumbing problems
- Install low-flow sinks and toilets
- Use air dryers instead of paper towels in the restrooms
- Look into installing solar panels, which greatly reduce your carbon footprint and energy bills; there are a lot of grants, rebates, tax incentives, and other opportunities to make the upfront costs more manageable
- Source from sustainable suppliers