There was a time when going green required major sacrifice. You had to do without certain luxuries or make radical lifestyle changes, all for the sole purpose of “protecting the environment.”
Fortunately, that’s no longer the case.
There now exists a wide range of greening strategies that are easy to implement. Better still, these tips often pay for themselves — many times over. This explains why companies around the globe continue analyzing ways to make their operations more sustainable.
In short, going green is no longer strictly an environmental decision. It’s increasingly a business decision as well. And with Earth Day (April 22) fast approaching, now is a great time to explore opportunities to reduce your carbon footprint — and save money in the process.
Here are five easy tips you can implement today.
1. Go Paperless
The environmental impact of paper manufacturing, consumption and disposal is enormous. By some estimates, nearly 40 percent of total waste generated by Americans is paper-based.
As such, going paperless is one of the best ways to decrease your organization’s contribution to that waste. This decision can also help you save a lot of money.
Let’s look at just one aspect of your operations — billing. Every check that you accept represents between $4 and $20 in potentially unnecessary expenses. These hidden costs come from:
- Time spent processing each check, including trips to the post office and bank
- Envelopes, invoices, stamps, ink toner and other printing materials
- Wear and tear (i.e. depreciation) of copiers, printers and fax machines
With electronic invoicing, however, you can eliminate these expenses and help the planet at the same time. Similar benefits await when you digitize other paper-based activities such as record-keeping, contracts and correspondence.
2. Allow Telecommuting
If you drive 10 miles every business day throughout the year, the environmental impact of your commutes can approach 1.4 tons of CO2 annually.
That’s assuming you drive a small car. For mid-sized vehicles, the number is closer to 2.6 tons. For SUVs, the total impact is nearly 4 tons of CO2.
Telecommuting eliminates this entirely, and the benefits aren’t exclusively ecological. Studies have shown that telecommuting can boost productivity and improve worker satisfaction. In other words, offering this option to your team can help make your business more profitable and more sustainable.
3. Join the Sharing Economy
As a business owner, buying office equipment can be expensive. The planet also pays a price once you factor in the resources required to manufacture the computers, furniture and appliances that fill most offices.
Rather than purchase these items outright, you’re often better off renting what you need on a short-term basis. The new sharing economy makes this incredibly easy. You can rent everything from hardware to office space to server capacity.
The ultimate goal is to replace your “consumer” mindset with a “user” mindset. The fewer items you own, the better.
4. Recycle Everything
A lot of companies pride themselves on their recycling programs — with separate bins for paper, plastic, glass and aluminum. If you haven’t set up a similar initiative at your company, now is a good time to start.
Don’t stop there.
Almost everything in your office can be recycled, including outdated electronics such as computers, cellphones and printers. These items contain a lot of precious metals and plastics that can be reused.
Take smart devices, for example. The EPA estimates that for every 1 million cellphones that are recycled, it’s possible to recover:
- 33 pounds of palladium
- 75 pounds of gold
- 35 pounds of copper
- 700 pounds of silver
Don’t limit yourself to office electronics. This Earth Day, invite your entire team to bring in whatever unused gadgets they have from home. After you safely scrub any sensitive information, you can then use sites such as Rewaste to find local organizations that specialize in recycling electronics.
5. Install Solar Panels
This strategy involves a little more footwork, but the long-term benefits are worth it. Here’s why.
Utility electricity is expensive, and those rates keep increasing. By contrast, sunshine is free — and will remain so forever. By installing solar panels, you benefit from immediate utility bill savings. And those savings only grow with time as electricity prices keep trending upward.
Moreover, you don’t need a lot of money to get started. With a solar lease, for example, you can receive a new installation for $0 upfront. Once your panels are installed, you pay only for the clean electricity that the system generates.
Solar power is cheaper than grid electricity. And because it comes from the sun, there are no greenhouse gas emissions. However, this strategy works only if you own your office space. If you don’t, you’ll need the landlord’s permission before you can install panels.
How Will You Celebrate Earth Day This Year?
In 2018, going green should be a no-brainer for any company that wants to:
- Reduce its monthly spending
- Reduce its carbon footprint
Implementing the above strategies can help you accomplish both of these goals. This Earth Day is the perfect time to get started. The only remaining question is — which greening tip will your business tackle first?