Considering a global survey identified 53% of consumers prefer to purchase products or services from companies with a strong dedication towards environmental issues, it is clear the ideology of sustainability being ineffective cost-wise is a misconception.
Realistically, reusing even the simplest of equipment and supplies can provide any business, small or large, with the environmental responsibility they require to maintain a positive reputation. With this in mind, here are some solutions you can introduce to drive your business towards a greener and cheaper future:
Use Chlorine-Free Paper
Despite living in a world that revolves around technology, we sometimes still need to use paper. Although the majority of European paper manufacturers that used chlorine bleaching during their production process have been eliminated, a few still remain; despite chlorine gas being linked to cancer and air pollution.
Purchasing chlorine-free paper removes the harmful procedure of using chlorine gas to turn paper white and therefore reduces environmental damage. Look for paper produced from more sustainable substances like hemp, organic cotton or bamboo.
Decrease Printing Waste
The average U.S. office worker prints 10,000 pages per year – more than the estimated 8,500 sheets produced per tree… Be honest, how often do you print a document only to realise one sentence or a URL has gone onto another sheet? Specialised software like Greenprint aims to reduce excess waste by recognising unused space and suggesting how the user can reduce it, thus decreasing paper usage.
It will also benefit your business financially, for Greenprint claims they reduce printing material costs by 17% and save you £69.00 annually per user.
Long-Lasting, Reusable Storage
The U.K. uses an estimated 12.5 million tonnes of cardboard/paper and 275,000 tonnes of plastic per year – both recyclable materials. However, plastic can take up to five hundred years to fully decompose and a mere 25% out of the 41% waste cardboard produces is actually recycled.
Whilst cardboard is a cheap and easily locatable favourite for storage, it gradually breaks overtime and will eventually have to be replaced – making it more costly than anticipated. To avoid spending your entire budget on boxes invest in sturdy, long-lasting and reusable packaging to keep your supplies both safe and organised.
Switch to Refillable Pens
On average, 240 million disposable pens that encompass toxic plastics and inks are sold in the U.K annually. Switching to pens with refillable ink cartridges will benefit the environment and also reduce your equipment expenditures, for replenishing ink cartridges is surprisingly cheaper than buying multipacks of pens.
For example – notorious pen manufacturing brand Zebra is more cost effective when refill packs are purchased at £1.88 in comparison to a multipack of pens priced at £5.19.
Banish Personal Bins
For the sake of avoiding a walk to the kitchen, does every employee really need an individual bin? Implementing a central location for all rubbish will prevent employees from throwing recyclable and non-recyclable waste together. Try organising bins into separate categories (e.g. plastic, paper, rubbish etc.) to create an effective recycling system whilst reducing further rubbish facilities and therefore costs.
Enhance Natural Lighting
Businesses that operate during daytime have the perfect opportunity to optimise daylight and ultimately reduce their energy bill. Also, sitting at a computer all day with inadequate lighting will result in eyestrain and poor work ethic, drastically decreasing your productivity.
Relocate or rearrange your office so all employees have an even distribution of natural lighting to decrease the need for artificial lighting, allowing you to turn off the switch and save money.
Automatic Shut-Down Devices
At the end of another working day, the majority of us dislike having to switch our computer off before leaving the office as it saves time for the next day. This convenience definitely fails to save energy, for the costs amounted from standby power can easily reach into the thousands and add an additional 10-15% onto your carbon footprint.
According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), U.K. businesses used a shocking 181,556 GWh of electricity in 2013. Furthermore, the average annual electricity bill for micro, small and medium businesses are:
Micro – £1,349
Small – £2,566
Medium – £4,280
Purchasing automatic shut-down devices will force your I.T. equipment to turn off outside of working hours; thwarting any employees from trying to leave their computer on despite your new rules and reducing your carbon footprint overtime.
Alter Printer & Photocopier Settings
Admittedly printers and photocopiers are necessities for most business, the problem doesn’t arise from owning them however, but the way in which they’re used; causing serious environmentally negative consequences.
Setting default printing to double-sided will reduce waste/usage and the amount invested on paper. For photocopying, limit the amount of photocopier usage per staff members and encourage using the scanner and writing emails instead.
Overall, screensavers possess no requirement other than to make your desktop look pretty; which consequently leaves a hideous dent that feeds your energy bill. A study conducted by the University of New Hampshire identified: “if an organisation has 5,000 PCs that run twenty hours a week, the yearly power consumed by those screensavers accost for 750,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, 5,858 pounds of sulphur oxide and 1,544 pounds of nitrogen oxide”.
Banishing screensavers will significantly lessen energy consumption through improving your carbon footprint whilst increasing your reputation as a sustainable business and decreasing monthly energy costs.
Have a Recycling Scheme
For bigger organisations, establishing a new system for all employees to follow can be a complex procedure when some aren’t aware or fail to understand the reasoning behind the changes.
Create a recycling scheme that uses SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, reachable and timed) aims and objectives – for example increase recycling rates of paper by 30% within the next three years). Hold regular meetings for all employees to discuss whether the targets have been met and possibly introduce a reward scheme for extra motivation.