If you're looking for simple but meaningful ways to help your business "go green," you don't have to be discouraged. It doesn't take big steps like installing solar panels or installing a geothermal heating system when you're just starting. Instead, take these steps to boost your company's commitment to preserving the environment.
1. Increase recycling efforts.
Many offices already have collections for paper recycling or plastic bottles, but they don't go beyond that. However, other types of recycling are equally important. For example, many businesses frequently upgrade their tech, throwing away old computer monitors, laptops, and cell phones. These have small amounts of precious metals that are costly to mine from original sources. Not only do they require new natural resources to build, but they also require the labor, transportation, and fuel to mine and refine these metals. Recycling old electronics is a simple but powerful way to reduce your impact on the environment.
You can also shift your focus to recycling a wider variety of product. Metals of all types can be recycled, including old staples, paper clips, and filing cabinets. Whenever you move to remodel or toss something in the trash, check if it can be recycled first. Larger items, like metal desks, old break room appliances, and cabinets have enough metal that you could actually get some financial return from selling the scrap metal.
2. Unplug before leaving.
Most people leave their main electronics plugged in all the time, even when they are no in use. Computers, monitors, TVs, and even microwaves and water coolers have plugs. These "vampire" appliances and electronics still use power when you leave for a day or weekend. Have all employees log out, shut down, and then unplug (or turn off the power strip) their devices before going home at the end of the day. You'd be surprised how much it could save in energy use: this "vampire" use of power cost $10 billion in power costs each year in the United States.
3. Use more natural light.
If possible, turn off the lights during the day and use natural light instead. Not only does natural light help with productivity, but every time you choose to turn off the lights, to use fewer bulbs (and fluorescent bulbs can be harmful and difficult to dispose of) and less electricity. Top increase natural light, you might bring some mirrors into the office and encourage offices with windows to keep the blinds open. if you have a business space with few windows, consider switching out fluorescent lights with more earth-friendly options as they develop.
4. Be smart about printing.
Printing in the office is a staple for many businesses. See if you can't get creative about limiting paper use in the office. Try to:
- send office memos over email or even group text instead of posting flyers. Discourage "passing notes" in the office with papers, and encourage messaging.
- reduce client paper use by signing for credit card slips and waivers electronically. For example, if you have a gymnastics gym, you can have a tablet ready for people to sign the waiver with a stylus instead of with a pen.
- storing information that normally would have been kept in a file folder on a cloud computing system that has secure monitoring for safety.
- select double sided printing for things that must be printed out. If you are meeting a couple as a real estate agent and have the disclosures for people to view, print them in small font on double sided paper.
For more information on increasing your commitment to green living in your workplace, contact local recycling center.