As becoming environmentally friendly is one of the best ways for businesses to not only reduce their negative impact on the planet but also to increase good PR, “going green” can have an incredibly positive long term impact on the reputation and profitability of a small business.
Additionally, it can be quite easy for a company to become more sustainable; from recycling products to conserving energy, a business that makes the necessary adjustments to its policies to support environmentalism might even save some money.
Here are some of the best ways to make a small business more green and eco-friendly
4 Ways Your Office can Support Sustainability
Use Environmentally Friendly Office Products
Stop buying single-use kitchenware
The use of plastic and paper utensil cups and plates is a wasteful practice undertaken by the majority of American small businesses. One of the easiest ways your office can support sustainability is to simply get rid of these unsustainable products and replace them with items that can be washed and reused. This alone will greatly increase small business sustainability.
Get rid of K-cups and use a real coffee maker
Although recycling plans for offices can sometimes mitigate the damages caused by these little plastic coffee ground containers, the number of these K-cups that fill up American landfills each day is frightful. Instead of contributing to this problem, business owners should think about how to make an office more environmentally friendly through the small changes that make a big difference – this includes using a traditional coffee maker over one that uses plastic K-cups along with the reusable glasses and mugs discussed previously.
Reuse office supplies (when possible)
Creating green incentives for small business employees will be just as effective in reducing office waste as replacing the plastic kitchenware with reusable supplies. When an employee brings 20 paperclips to their desk, uses 5, and throws out 15, they are not only wasting precious company money but also contributing to the waste problem that can be reduced so easily.
Putting unused goods in the supply room or breakroom can create incentives for green office practices, as employees with extra paperclips who need sticky notes (for example) can put back their extras and grab what they need in return. This will reduce small business waste along with saving money on extra supplies that aren’t actually in any kind of shortage.
Buy products that will last
Deciding to make a long-term investment by buying higher quality products that cost more and last longer is a great way to make sure your small business is more sustainable. For example, a computer that costs $1000 but will last three years is actually a worse purchase than one that costs $500 extra for the added benefits of a six-year lifetime plus the knowledge that the company isn’t so quickly throwing things into a landfill.
Use cleaning agents that are not environmentally destructive
Along with the benefits of being generally less destructive towards property and helping to save the environment, biodegradable cleaning products can also have the added upside of being less detrimental towards the health of those working in the office where they are used.
Whether through the indirect effects of reducing global warming or the direct effects of reducing health dangers for workers, small business owners who opt for green products are always acting in their own self-interest as well as that of those around them.
Use an automatic hand dryer
Although the convenience of paper towels is often enough for small businesses to disregard the benefits of reducing office waste by using hand-dryers instead, the long-term environmental effects undoubtedly outweigh the downside of losing an extra five seconds to use a hand-dryer. Making a business more green involves producing less waste.
Considering the obscene amount of paper towels that a company can go through in one day, one of the easiest ways to reduce office waste is to simply go for the green option. Additionally, considering the fact that paper towels must be bought, again and again, making an investment in hand-dryers will result in tons of saved money in the long term and support the efforts of your business going green.
Buy recycled paper
One of the easiest ways for businesses to become greener is to switch the brand of paper that they use to those made of recyclable materials. Although, as is often the case with environmentally friendly products, this paper might be a little more expensive than its non-recycled counterpart, the long-term environmental, PR, and financial benefits of using green paper outweigh the costs.
Taking advantage of green small business opportunities is also good for office culture – many employees do not like throwing away excessive waste due to their own personal environmental conscience, and they will, therefore, respond positively to using products that support their own positive environmental ambitions. Using recycled paper and other reusable materials are, simply put, a huge net positive for any company.
Implement Green Office Policies
Conserve energy and water
One of the most classic and repeated strategies for making a business more green (or a house), the idea that conserving resources is both intuitive and forever true. Any business hoping to save money on bills and also improve its sustainability should ensure that lights and computers don’t stay on overnight and that the sinks in the kitchen and restrooms are turned off when not in use.
In fact, putting up signs around the office that request that the last person in the restroom or the building turn off the lights behind themselves is a good reminder to everyone in the company that they are partially responsible for making the business as green as it can be. The financial and environmental wastefulness of leaving machines running overnight is truly frightening, especially when considered on a macroeconomic scale; rather than being a part of the problem, owners should take advantage of small business sustainability opportunities that don’t cost anything (and in fact save money) and have no real downside.
Along with using recycled materials to achieve small business sustainability goals, a company that hopes to become more environmentally friendly should engage in recycling practices themselves as to reduce their waste and support the manufacturing of recycled products. While there might not be any direct economic incentives to recycling, it will bring good PR status to the company as consumers see it looking forward and thinking about the environment. Additionally, having recycling options around the office will bring about a positive culture that can only benefit the general demeanor of the people who work there.
Ensure that your employees are going green
Having employees who support green small business opportunities is one of the main keys to fostering an environment that supports sustainability at a small business. This article provides business owners with many ideas of how to make a small business greener, but until those business owners spread the knowledge to the rest of their company it will be impossible to carry out the practices that are necessary to successfully make a change. By using various strategies such as training videos, company meetings, and signs throughout the office, directors and managers can help to inform the employees of a company how they too can be a part of the larger green movement happening around the office. While setting up rules and guidelines is essential, ensuring that the employees are knowledgeable enough to follow the new company practices should be the first thing that an owner does in his or her environmentalism project.
Give employees an incentive to carpool or catch the bus/train
Along with training employees to use green practices, incentivizing the use of public transportation (and having the owners use it themselves) is a fantastic way to indirectly help the environment while also gaining good PR. If a company is unable to use public transportation due to lack of accessibility in their area or excessive inconvenience, its employees should at least try to save the environment by driving electric, hybrid, or non-gas-guzzling cars (after all, no customer is going to believe that a company is environmentally friendly if the CEO pulls up to work every day in a Hummer). Making a business more green requires the full commitment of the employees both in and out of work, and in order to increase small business sustainability outlook, it is important for all aspects of the company to align with good environmental practices for businesses.
Incentivize green practices
In order to ensure that a company is taking advantage of all business sustainability opportunities available to them, it is important to have definitive goals to reach for that can be officially reached over time. This means that “increase company environmental friendliness” is not a viable option for goal-setting, as there is no way to assess whether or not the goal has been finally met (as it can never really be completed). Rather, setting goals that allow the business to see how it is creating a more green office is preferable, such as “reduce waste by [the number depends on how big the office is] percent this year.” Once the office sustainability goals have been met, positive reinforcement can be good to encourage employees to continue their success – throwing an office party to celebrate the green transformation of the company will help spur future environmentalism.
Reduce Office Energy Consumption and Waste
Use solar/renewable energy
While this might not be possible for all types of businesses and is best suited to businesses that own their own building and are therefore in control of how it is powered, using renewable energy at a business is a great way to both increase office sustainability and make money on a long-term investment. Although the installation of solar panels is expensive, taking advantage of the growing green energy market will undoubtedly be a beneficial move to the health of the company over a longer period of time as it will make it much easier to keep up with developments in the renewable energy market; if a company gets involved in green energy now instead of later, they will find that making adjustments to policy will be easier as enthusiasm for/acceptance of green energy culture goes up. In this way, it becomes easier to increase small business sustainability over time if a business is willing to put in the extra money and effort to use renewable energy sources upfront.
Move towards using digital storage instead of paper
In addition to using paper that is more environmentally friendly, a business hoping to reduce its waste should attempt to begin making a transition from using paper to simply storing all documents digitally instead. The rise of cloud technology has made it extremely easy to put computerized data into a safe and accessible place for free, and along with the fact that storing documents digitally is a great way to make a business greener, it is also a good way to reduce clutter and free up space in the office. While many businesspeople still prefer to hold documents physically in their hands, the ability to print from the cloud or read things on an iPad has made it even easier to increase small business sustainability.
Evaluate and replace machinery that is sapping energy
Because the green movement is advancing so quickly, machines that are fairly old are most likely not taking full advantage of the newest developments in energy conservation and pollutant reduction – companies that are using very old machines would be doing themselves a favor by exchanging the old devices (printers, computers, assembly line machines) for newer and greener options as to increase company sustainability. Furthermore, as new technology increases the efficiency of machines and makes them run smoother and faster, the business could be increasing their potential for profit by getting rid of their older machines and replacing them with better options. Some of the best strategies for making a small business more green are also good ways to increase revenue, both because they bring good PR that leads to increased customer enthusiasm and also because green developments tend to offer newer and higher quality products. In this way, a director who is interested in finding ways to make a business more green is actually benefitting not only the world but also the company itself.
Replace old and inefficient light fixtures
One of the green products that could be considered the most widely successful to date is the environmentally friendly lightbulb, which can be found in countless home and corporate settings. Not surprisingly, switching a company over from normal to green lightbulbs is one of the easiest ways to make a company environmentally friendly. One of the core reasons for the environmental friendliness of these bulbs is the fact that they last a long time so that those who use them do not have to throw them into the garbage and fill up landfills with trash. While they might cost a little more upfront, this extended lifetime is an investment that will undoubtedly save money for the purchaser. While it may seem extremely simple and small, halogen bulbs are simply a necessity when planning how to make a company greener.
Use hybrid/electric company cars
As companies like Tesla become more and more globally prevalent, the use of fully or semi-electric cars has only increased. These cars often do not represent a positive long-term investment due to the increased cost of the initial purchase (as compared to normal cars) but still, represent a great way to increase sustainability at a business. Whether through buying electric cars for the company to use or incentivizing their private purchase by employees via offering to cover some of the prices, it is great for the environment and company PR to be behind the wheel of a car that is not harming the earth (as much as normal cars).
Most important of all, however, is ensuring that the company at least does not drive cars seen as destroying the environment. Hybrid or electric cars, while more pricey than normal automobiles are great green small business opportunities for companies that want to reduce their impact on the environment significantly but need transportation that goes beyond a train or bus.
Engage with the Community in Supporting Environmentalism
Network with other green-focused companies
Just as holding a fundraiser for an environmental charity is a good way to bring multiple companies together and promote green developments for business, supporting companies that practice the green strategies listed above is always a good idea. For example, imagine that there are two similar uniform stores in town. One of them has prices that are slightly lower, but the other has a roof covered in solar panels and can be seen dumping their recycling into the corresponding bins outside the building at the end of each day.
A company that wanted to encourage the use of renewable resources for small businesses would opt to build a relationship with the greener company, as they are clearly putting forward an effort to be environmentally friendly. Although this is not a steadfast standard, businesses that make an attempt to be as ethical as possible in technically unnecessary but important ways (the environment, doing pro-bono work, donating to charities) are often the ones that can be relied upon to be friendly and good business partners, as their kindness and thoughtfulness regarding the environment indicates that the business has a good head on its shoulders.
Encourage the community to get involved in green activities
Companies that are successful in community engagement endeavors are almost always likely to gain customers as a result of their outreach work; when people learn about how a company is working with the surrounding community, they become more “aware” of the business’s presence and may also be inspired by their socially-conscious nature. Holding events where the community can get together to clean up the parks, build infrastructure that will promote eco-friendly business development, or advocate for the protection of animals/forests is always a fantastic way to make a business greener.
In addition, it does not necessarily require a lot of capital to be supplied by the business; because community involvement inherently involves the work of a fair number of people, companies that want to be the leaders of such programs must provide more time than money. Employees and directors should become involved as well to show that the company really does care about the wellbeing of the environment
Work with local instead of national businesses
Not only does the transportation necessary in shipping goods across the country come with its own costs and environmental detriments, but large companies are also notorious for disregarding environmental ethicality in favor of profit. In order to make a small business more eco-friendly, the established network of companies involved in the vertical process of creation, shipping, and sales that this small business uses should be made up of small and reliable companies.
While it is true that no business is perfect and that it is impossible to be without error regarding ethical and environmental business practices, business owners who hope to create an eco-friendly company culture need to associate with others who hope to do the same. Regardless of if one individual multinational corporation decides to engage in positive green company practices, the transportation costs and the contribution to the competition of local small businesses should be enough to make any business owner opt for partnerships with local and reasonably small companies.
Invest company funds in green energy development
Companies that talk about how great environmental support is and then invest profits in fossil fuel and coal corporations are often hated more than businesses that openly advocate for damaging environmental practices; after all, no one likes a hypocrite. Companies that are hoping to gain good PR as a result of ethical environmental efforts need to ensure that they are consistent in their beliefs and that they support other businesses that are working towards green business development.
Firms that specialize in designing alternative energy solutions for public and private sector use need funding and investment as much as any other company, and as this industry is on the rise, it is beneficial for both the public relations and finance divisions of a company when they decide to put their funds into energy development businesses. With this being said, any smart investor will still look thoroughly into the past, present, and potential future of the companies that will be receiving their hard-earned profits.
Although transitioning a company towards environmental sustainability can be an easy and financially advisable process, purchasing new products requires cash that some businesses might not have offhand. Fortunately, invoice factoring can be helpful in putting money in the pockets of businesses that need funding for new (or existing) ventures.
Learning about invoice factoring services is as easy as giving Factor Finders a call or filling out an online form. All you need to get started is unpaid invoices and once approved, funds can be in your account in as fast as 24 hours.