One of the best ways to take your business to the next level in today’s world is to go green. You don’t have to have a completely green business plan, and you don’t have to sell only recycled products.
However, you can do a bit of good for the world around you, and you can show your customers that you’re interested in helping your community and the environment by taking some steps to make your business a little greener, starting today. Here are a few simple “green steps” to take:
Offset your carbon footprint
If your business isn’t already created with green principles in mind, there may be some things that you can’t actively change right now. For instance, if your offices and/or stores are already created, you probably can’t just go build a new “green” building from the ground up. You can, of course, green up your business by retrofitting your buildings with things like energy-efficient appliances, greener light bulbs, or even solar power, but until you can do these things to reduce the carbon footprint of your business, consider offsetting your carbon footprint, instead.
You can, for instance, talk to your electric company about purchasing eco-friendly electricity in with your regular electricity bill. This is becoming an easier and easier process, and it’s often very inexpensive, as well. You can also purchase carbon credits when you travel for business or use your company car for long trips.
One really simple way for your business to offset its carbon footprint is to simply buy and plant trees. Having a tree planting day at a local park or even the back yards of some of your employees can be a great way to bring a sense of community to your business and to offset your carbon footprint.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle
Another really simple way to help your business go green is to simply consume less and recycle or reuse more. Put recycling bins for copy paper, aluminum, glass, and plastic in obvious places around your building, and insist that employees recycle as much as possible. Make sure you put someone in charge of emptying the bins on a regular basis, though, or you’ll risk having them full to overflowing so that people are forced to throw away otherwise recyclable products.
You can also reduce your consumption of disposable products in all sorts of ways. Here are just a few ideas:
- Stock the employee break room with reusable plates, mugs, bowls, cups, and silverware. Make sure you also provide clean wash rags or sponges and eco-friendly dish soap, as well.
- Get your name off of mailing lists so that you have less mail to throw away or recycle.
- Talk to your landscaper about creating a more sustainable landscape outside your business by using native plants that are suited for drought and other weather conditions your area is likely to encounter.
- Use eco-friendly cleaning supplies in your office.
- Set up a carpool board for your employees, and give recognition or even prizes to employees who are most eco-friendly on their way to and from work (by carpooling, walking, biking, taking public transit, etc.)
- Use eco-friendly, energy-efficient appliances whenever you need to replace the appliances in your office.
- Turn off all lights when people are not using a particular area, and put all computers and other electronic devices on power strips so that you can turn them off completely at the end of each work day. Since electronics still use power when they’re turned off but plugged in, you can seriously reduce your energy consumption – and your electric bill – in this way.
- Recycle everything you can, including your electronics and batteries. When you get to the end of life for a copier or computer, make sure you recycle it with a local electronics recycling company instead of just throwing it away. If the machines still have life in them, donate them to a program where they can be reused in your community.
Make your products and services greener
There are plenty of different ways to make products and services greener, so research what others in your area are doing to make their services and products more eco-friendly, and then follow suit. Here are just a few examples of simple ways that you can make your business’s products and services a little greener:
- Use recycled and recyclable packaging, and opt for paper or cardboard whenever possible. Only use plastic packaging when absolutely necessary, and try to source it from places that use recycled plastic in their materials.
- If you use chemicals in your services (ie. carpet cleaning, home cleaning, landscaping, etc.) research the greenest options, and use only those options. You’ll probably gather more customers because of this, and you’ll be lots easier on the environment.
- When you send out advertising, either sending it online via social media that don’t create physical waste, or print your postcards and other advertisements on green, recycled materials.
- Use and sell fair trade and green products whenever you possibly can.
- When you create new products or services to add to your offerings, consider different ways you can make them greener. Assign an employee or a committee to research green options related to your business so that you can implement them over time.
Financing your green transition
Transitioning your business to a greener outlook will make a big difference for you financially, as many of today’s consumers are doing everything they can to work with greener businesses. However, it does take some investment on the front end. Sierra Dawson from CreditDonkey recommends a dedicated business credit card to your green efforts. That way, you can easily track how much you’re spending to go green, and you can pay down purchases after you make them, controlling how much you’re spending on your green efforts at any given time.