Sadie Keljikian, Express Trade Capital
The devastating effects of climate change have rapidly increased in the last few years. As a result, businesses of all sizes and across industries are taking it upon themselves to be more eco-friendly. Though most business owners recognize the urgency to reduce their wasteful or pollutive practices, many are concerned about the cost and complexity of implementing greener habits. Although some large-scale changes can be expensive, investment in environmentally sound systems absolutely pays off over time. Here are some of the ways your business can adjust its practices to take better care of the environment.
Change Your Lightbulbs
One of the simplest things your business can do to reduce energy use is to change your lightbulbs. Halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) use 25-80% less energy than regular incandescents and last 3-25 times longer. Some cost slightly more initially, but more than cover their own price in longevity and reduction in your energy bills.
Recycling your paper, plastic and metal goods is a great start, but these days, it’s remarkably easy to find facilities that will recycle just about everything. Specialized recycling centers nationwide allow customers to deposit old electronics, appliances, batteries, and other items that were once difficult or impossible to recycle. Many of these centers even offer pick-up services for businesses that need to remove large amounts of heavy equipment at once.
Encourage Your Employees Not to Drive
One of the biggest problems employees face, regardless of location or industry, is their daily commute. Although they may be tempted to drive, encouraging them to carpool, bike, or use public transportation can drastically decrease your workforce’s negative impact on the environment. This can be as simple as posting a sign-up sheet in your workplace for carpools based on location and/or department.
If you’re located in one of the many cities that offer bike sharing, you can offer to pay for some, or all of the cost of your employees’ bike rentals should they choose to ride to work. You can also offer employer transportation benefits to those who use public transit. Regardless of which method(s) you choose, offering your employees a simple, inexpensive alternative to driving to work is a wise move.
Switch to PCW (Post-Consumer Waste) Paper
Although the world has largely transitioned to paperless documents, some businesses can’t avoid printing on a regular basis. If your business requires printing, make sure to use PCW paper products and packaging wherever possible. Although recycled paper is an improvement on new, or “virgin” paper products, it isn’t a regulated designation. Only PCW products are made entirely from recycled paper. They also use 45% less energy and create half as much waste in the manufacturing process as traditional paper products.
Eliminate Excessive Packaging and Single-Use Items Wherever Possible
This one can be a bit harder for employers to accept, but things like single-use coffee pods, plastic cutlery, water cooler jugs, and styrofoam cups make up a significant portion of the excessive waste North America produces. As an alternative, consider regular coffee, a water filter and reusable dishes and cutlery to keep your workplace from producing unnecessary trash that won’t biodegrade. You’ll also save the money you would’ve spent on refills for your water cooler, disposable dishes, and cutlery.
Clean Up Your Cleaning Products
Cleaning your office with harsh chemicals isn’t just bad for the environment, it’s bad for your employees. Harsh cleaning products can cause allergic reactions and other cumulatively negative effects on your workforce’s health. Switch out your cleaning products for their green alternatives and you’ll find your workplace a much happier, more energetic environment with fewer sick days.
There are dozens of small changes you can make to create an office culture that takes better care of the environment. Business owners are too often bogged down by the idea of installing solar panels and other environmentally sound systems that are effective, but expensive and impractical. By implementing these small, inexpensive changes, you can dramatically decrease your business’s carbon footprint and inspire your employees to do the same in their private lives. A healthy planet is good for people and businesses alike!