With Earth Day celebrations on the horizon, you may be thinking about your business’ sustainability practices. While it’s smart to launch strategies for protecting the environment, they’re only useful if they’re being implemented by your employees. When there is a conscious effort by all to go green, the benefits can be far reaching, from strengthening your brand to slashing operational costs.
Are you ready to lead your team on the road to a greener future? Great! Here are five ways to jumpstart your success and save some green along the way.
- Form a Committee
When it comes to getting employee buy-in on reducing your business’ environmental footprint, it’s all about collaboration. Organize your team to brainstorm ways to reduce consumption and how you can do more to conserve. By opening up the discussion, you will obtain ideas that you can collectively build on to turn into actionable strategies. Encourage everyone to participate and welcome all ideas. The more ownership your employees have for the new practices, the more likely they are to enthusiastically adopt them.
- Encourage Them to Leave the Car at Home
Consider offering incentives or perks for employees who reduce their fuel consumption by taking public transportation, carpooling, biking, or walking to work. Additional time off or small cash incentives can be great motivators for employees to try an alternative to driving to work each day. Primary employer advantages are improved productivity, the need for fewer parking spaces, and even less employee stress from not having to sit in rush hour traffic.
- Embrace the Cloud
Transitioning toward internet applications like Trello, Salesforce, DropBox, and Google Drive can save time, money, and reams of paper. By giving your employees the ability to work in the cloud, you’ll also enable them to work from different office locations and access documents from anywhere with no travel required. When you consider the savings of time, paper, and ink, cloud computing may just be one of the most impactful green strategies that you and your employees can embrace.
- Reduce Paper Waste
Another great way to cut the cost and consumption of office supplies is to print double-sided pages on post-consumer waste paper, eliminate fax cover sheets, and print in less bold fonts. Yes, these may seem like very minor steps towards reducing your carbon footprint, but the savings can add up substantially over time.
- Take Recycling Seriously
Every office has that blue recycling bin that is supposed to be used for collecting empty soda cans and used paper. Often, it sits empty in a corner of the office kitchen. By joining together to be proactive about recycling everything from paper goods and office supplies to beverage containers and electronics, you can effectively de-clutter while possibly generating some extra cash on buyback programs for unwanted furniture, phones, laptops, and tablets. A service like Gadget Salvation can even simplify the process of selling used electronics by providing pre-paid shipping labels and fast payments.
- Green Your Office
Your workspace provides a great opportunity for your employees to contribute to your sustainability efforts. Consider turning off the air conditioner and opening up the windows. Incandescent light bulbs can be replaced with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Potted plants can naturally help purify the air while making the environment a cheerier place. And, consider furnishing with used furniture and art that can often save you thousands of dollars.
- Take Advantage of Teleconferencing
There are certainly those times when a business trip is essential for making a sale, nurturing an existing relationship with a client, or attending a trade show. However, time on the road can often be slashed substantially by taking advantage of today’s advanced teleconferencing and videoconferencing technologies. When you combine these with collaboration tools, you can cut down on carbon emissions, as well as hotels, airfare, and meals.
- Invest Green
Socially responsible investing is nothing new, yet businesses have recently begun offering their employees green options for their 401 (k) retirement investment accounts. Look for funds that offer rigorous research to assess the social and environmental integrity of companies in their portfolio. A good place to start is SocialFunds, a personal finance site devoted to socially-responsible investing.
- Set a Monthly or Quarterly “Green Goal”
Establish goals for everything from paper usage and energy consumption to recycling and the number of days employees carpooled. Employees will naturally be motivated to watch their success as their energy consumption decreases and their recycling activities increase. If goals are met, reward employees with perks that are appreciated like closing the office an hour early on designated days or providing a catered lunch from a local restaurant that specializes in cooking with ingredients from local, sustainable farmers.
- Recognize Your Most Environmentally-Responsible Employees
You’re likely to have one or two employees that take conservation very seriously. These are the individuals who consistently turn the lights out at the end of the day, seek out opportunities to reduce paper usage, and wear a sweater instead of turning up the heat. By rewarding these people as your “greenest” employee, you’ll express your appreciation while encouraging others to follow their example.
Leading your team to greater sustainability requires much more than a focus around Earth Day celebrations. A daily commitment to achieving company-wide green goals is necessary and will become like second nature to you and your employees as your actionable strategies become regular habits. As this transition happens, you’ll not only see the positive impact on your electric bill, office supplies invoice, and travel expenses, you’ll witness increased pride and a sense of teamwork propelled by a focused desire to be a truly “green” company.