How Can Your Small Business Go Green? Sustainability Tips for Startups
Small businesses are going green to protect the environment and reduce their emissions. Many businesses also benefit along the way by saving money and improving their reputations. Your business can go green by adopting easy-to-implement greening initiatives in the short term and planning long-term sustainability strategies to make an even bigger impact down the road.
These topics will walk you through how your small business can go green:
How Can Small Businesses Go Green?
There are a number of ways small businesses can go green: you can start small by making relatively easy, inexpensive changes around the office, or you can overhaul your business strategy to incorporate long-term green initiatives. Here are some tips for going greener at your company:
Easy Green Initiatives
Get Green Office Supplies
One of the easiest ways businesses can incorporate sustainable practices into their work is by switching to more environmentally friendly office supplies. This can include:
- Changing to LED lightbulbs
- Switching to natural and environmentally friendly cleaning supplies
- Using rechargeable batteries
- Buying recycled paper for and printing double-sided
- Giving employees reusable water bottles to eliminate plastic bottles
- Buying reusable ink cartridges, so you can refill them when they’re empty rather than replacing them
Be conscious about the amount of energy your business uses and implement methods of reducing your energy consumption. Some easy energy saving examples include:
- Turning off electronics when they’re not in use
- Investing in light timers, so all the lights will automatically shut off at the end of the day
- Taking advantage of natural light by working near windows, so you don’t need to rely as much on overhead lighting
- Enabling sleep mode on your electronics, so they use less energy when they’re not in use
- Buying energy efficient office appliances like dishwashers and fridges
Green the Office Kitchen
Office kitchens are often hotbeds for wasteful practices. A few tweaks to your office kitchen can help your company be more environmentally friendly. Some things to consider:
- Eliminate disposable cutlery, plates, cups and napkins to cut down on waste
- Don’t buy single-use plastic straws
- Stock the kitchen with fair trade coffee and tea
- Avoid single-use K-Cup coffee pods
- Don’t buy office snacks that are individually packaged, to reduce waste
- Start a recycling program and post signs indicating what kitchen waste can be recycled
- Set up a compost system at your office
Work with Sustainable Vendors
Make sure your company sources products and services that are managed in a sustainable way. Do your research before signing with a new vendor to make sure their business practices align with your green policies. Be sure to buy goods that:
- Don’t contain toxins or environmentally harmful ingredients, like palm oil
- Are manufactured sustainably and if possible, locally
- Are made using recycled materials
- Can be recycled when they’re no longer useable
- Don’t use excessive packaging
- Are easy to repair and are not disposable
Long-Term Sustainability Practices
Offer Green Transportation Incentives
Encourage employees to get to work using sustainable transportation methods, like walking, biking or taking public transportation. According to a recent study by the US Census Bureau, 86 percent of US workers commute to work by car every day. Your business can implement transportation policies that incentivize green transportation methods. Some things to consider:
- Subsidize or buy public transit passes for your employees
- Install indoor bike storage
- Organize a carpooling program, so workers that need to drive can commute by rideshare
- If you haven’t yet opened your business or if you ever move buildings, consider moving to a location that’s accessible to transit and close to bike lanes
Invest in Renewable Energy
Switching to renewable sources of energy at the office can involve a big upfront cost, but it will greatly reduce your carbon footprint and save you money in the long run. Some renewable energy initiatives to consider include:
- Installing solar panels to generate electricity and heat your water
- Switching to geothermal heating systems
- If it’s possible at your office location, consider wind energy to power your building
There are also smaller changes that can make your office more energy efficient. Try better insulating the building or installing triple pane windows. In many cases, you can get rebates or a tax write off for greening your office building.
Switch to the Cloud
Moving your operations to the cloud can be a time consuming and difficult transition, but doing so can have a positive impact on the environment and give your business more flexibility in the long term. Managing data on a local server has a big impact on carbon emissions. The cloud uses fewer servers that are managed more efficiently, so they contribute less carbon emissions. Companies can use 88 percent less power and reduce their emissions by 88% by moving to the cloud, according to Mission.
If it’s possible for employees to telecommute, even just occasionally, it can have a big positive impact on the environment. When the companies Dell, Xerox and Aetna allowed workers to telecommute, their combined impact was a savings of 95,294 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in a year. Your employees won’t have to commute to the office, which reduces carbon emissions. Large offices also tend to generate much more energy than homes, so energy consumption drops when employees work from home.
What Are the Benefits of Going Green?
The obvious benefit of going green is that you’re helping to save the environment and reducing your carbon footprint. But there are other business benefits to running a sustainable company, including:
- Saving Money: You can greatly reduce your business’s energy bills by introducing green energy initiatives. You can save money on paper and toner by going paperless. Going green can improve your company’s bottom line.
- Providing a Healthier Work Environment: Showing your employees you care about their wellbeing can boost morale and your workers may be more motivated knowing they’re making a difference for the environment by working for a green business.
- Improving Your Reputation: Consumers are starting to care more and more about business’s environmental practices. Going green can strengthen the loyalty of your existing customers and also attract new eco-friendly shoppers to your business.
- Getting Tax Credits: By investing in green energy and making your business more energy efficient, you may qualify for tax credits and EPA grants that can save you money during tax season.
What Are Sustainable Business Practices?
As environmental issues become more important to individuals and companies alike, businesses of all sizes are becoming more concerned with operating in a sustainable way. Sustainable business practices are policies and initiatives that aim to make a company more environmentally friendly. Sustainable business practices are meant to cut waste, reduce energy consumption and eliminate unethical environmental practices.