Small businesses occupy somewhere between 30 and 50 percent of commercial spaces in the United States. Within those billions of square feet lies the opportunity to embrace sustainable initiatives that can make a real difference to the environment. As a business owner, you can adopt earth-friendly practices that can help you save money and save the Earth. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
The Small Business Administration (SBA) outlines steps small businesses can take to become more energy-efficient. Those practices include:
- Regular tune-ups and filter changes for air conditioning and heating systems.
- Controlling the amount of direct sunlight in your workplace.
- Using fans to circulate air.
- Plugging leaks that allow air to move into and out of the building.
- Selecting renewable energy sources whenever possible.
The SBA also suggests buying ENERGY STAR–qualified office equipment. ENERGY STAR qualified products include everything from lighted signage to computers, printers, and even refrigerators.
And when it comes to company vehicles, choose fuel-efficient models and keep them well maintained. Hybrid vehicles are a particularly environmentally-friendly choice.
Using less paper in the workplace is good for the environment. Not only does it save the amount of trees that need to be harvested, it also saves the energy that it takes to produce and transport the finished product. To maximize your use of paper try:
- Copying and printing on both sides of each piece of paper.
- Communicating electronically as much as possible.
- Selecting paper stock that is manufactured with a high percentage of recycled content.
- Recycling as much as possible.
Waste Not, Want Not
Generating less waste at work by reducing, reusing, and recycling means less trash headed for a landfill. Some ideas to reduce waste include:
- Using office supplies efficiently.
- Eliminating extra materials used to process or package items.
- Finding a new purpose or a new home for items rather than throwing them away.
Conserving water can reduce the amount of electricity or gas that it takes to heat water. To reduce your water usage:
- Fix leaky pipes and water fixtures.
- Purchase energy-efficient water heaters and appliances.
- Have a water-efficient plan for outdoor landscaping.
Make a Plan
To assess your company’s environmental impact, put together an Environmental Management System (EMS) using the free template available on EPA’s website.
Sustainable initiatives can save money by reducing utility bills and the cost of materials and products. Sustainable business practices may also attract and retain employees and customers who are passionate about being green.
Businesses Large and Small are Jumping On Board
Going green isn’t just a fad for small to medium-sized business. Many large enterprises are embracing the circular economy, a movement that encourages businesses to take back, reuse, or recycle products that would otherwise be thrown away.
Examples of large corporate sustainability efforts include Disney World’s food scrap initiative that transforms food scraps into fuel, and fashion retailer H&M, who launched a global garment initiative that accepts old, used clothing at all of its stores.
From replacing a washer in a leaky faucet to allowing customers to turn in used goods, sustainable practices have the power to make a real difference in the world.
What sustainable practices have you embraced in your company? Tell us in the comments section below.