How to Make Your Business Greener
Going green doesn't necessarily require a radical makeover. A series of small steps--many of which don't cost a dime--can add up to a new way of doing business.
- Stop throwing away money Go through your trash. You'll get a new sense of how much it costs to buy, store, and dispose of stuff. Eliminate unnecessary photocopying and reuse packaging for shipping.
- Get an energy audit Most local utilities offer businesses free on-site consultations on how they can reduce usage and save money. Among the frequent suggestions: Improve insulation, and install timers to turn lights off automatically.
- Go paperless Encourage e-mailing. When paper is necessary, photocopy on both sides and use old letterhead for scratch.
- Consider the commute Provide preferred parking for carpoolers. Offer transit passes to employees who take the bus or subway and bike racks for cyclists. Let workers telecommute.
- Curb business travel Teleconference instead of traveling. For must-go trips, keep track of the miles driven and flown and buy "carbon offsets" from a nonprofit like Carbonfund.org to make up for the greenhouse gas emissions.
- Buy green Tell suppliers that you're interested in sustainable products and set specific goals for buying recycled, refurbished, or used. Make the environment, and not just price, a factor when purchasing.
- Detox Many offices have toxic substances, such as used batteries and copier toner, on hand. Talk to suppliers about alternatives to toxics, and make sure you properly dispose of the ones you can't avoid using.
- Rethink transportation Consider the petroleum it takes to ship and receive products. Evaluate the impact of products you buy or sell, and find ways to mitigate those impacts.
- Get the employees involved Create a team to lead the company's eco-efforts and determine where you can have the biggest impact for the least amount of money.
- Communicate Inform suppliers and customers about your efforts. And get in touch with local regulatory agencies, many of which offer financial incentives to businesses that clean up their acts.