You probably already think you should be a more environmentally friendly business... but it sounds expensive, right?
It's a sound investment for a number of reasons. According to the EPA there is little doubt that environmental issues are going to alter the regulatory and market landscape in the near future. Energy-efficient companies will be better able to navigate these regulatory changes and be better positioned to weather negative events like energy price spikes.
Also, consumers are flocking to safe, non-toxic, green products. People are becoming more conscious of their choices and are willing to invest more in a product to participate in this movement and to protect their family.
That alone should be enough motivation. But consider also that many of the world’s top organizations are investing billions of dollars into environmental sustainability programs--a good indication that small business owners should follow suit.
The Sands Las Vegas Corporation touts some of the most beautiful and popular vacation properties and convention centers around the world. In 2010 it implemented The Sands ECO360 Global Sustainability program. Today this values-driven program is considered an integral part of the company's overall business strategy. A behind-the-scenes tour of a Sands property will reveal an enormous on-site recycling center where employees hand sort every ounce of garbage to separate recyclables. They also recycle and filter millions of gallons of water for use in decorative water features and new low-flow urinals. And, electricity consumption has already been reduced by 5 percent; not bad considering a 27 percent growth in net revenue which has increased the demand for energy.
The good news is that a green program doesn't have to cost a fortune for a small business. Try these simple steps to kick off your sustainability program.
Make green thinking a part of your company culture.
Engage your employees in your new vision. Create efficiency goals and make it fun and inclusive by celebrating your success. How can you measure your savings? How can your green mission enhance your community or better serve your customers? Get ideas and input from your employees and they will embrace your new goals.
Change light bulbs.
You won’t save 10 million kWh of electricity each year like the Sands Las Vegas Corporation does, but swapping to LED lighting is definitely worth the investment. LEDs use far less energy and do not contain mercury and other toxic gases contained by incandescent and fluorescent lights. They are pricey upfront but will last about five times longer than other bulbs.
Eliminate plastic bottles.
In 2011, 32 million tons of plastic waste was generated in the U.S. alone. Sure, some of this plastic is recycled but why add to the environmental burden? Install a water filtration system in the office. Not only will the water be fresh and clean but you will save time and money by avoiding the packaged water habit.
Do business with green vendors.
The Sands Las Vegas Corporation chooses vendors like Hewlett Packard and General Electric because they too follow aggressive sustainability guidelines. Interview your vendors to find out about their sustainability efforts. If you use a printer, ask if they use recycled paper. Look for companies that use energy efficient vehicles and manufacturing plants that have practices in place to reduce their carbon footprint.
Conserve human energy.
Consider that healthy, energetic employees will be more creative and productive. Help to keep your team healthy by creating a safe, non-toxic environment. Serve sustainable brain food at meetings: nuts, organic fruits and vegetables, and even dark chocolate all play a role in maintaining mental acuity.
Host a fundraising event.
Cause-driven programs are excellent for your image and public relations; and it feels good to support something that is meaningful and far reaching. Adopt a green cause and do an annual fundraising event. There are all sorts of conservation campaigns you can participate in, from planting trees to raising funds for environmental studies scholarships. Find one that’s close to your heart and involve your online and local communities.
Recycle and reuse.
How often do you toss old papers and used glass and plastics into the trash bin? Come on, admit it! Look into your community’s recycling program and enlist the support of your team to meet recycling goals. Also, purchase recycled paper products and ink cartridges. Even certain furniture and other big ticket items contain recycled goods.
Use green cleaning products.
Do you love the smell of a nice, clean office? Guess what: Many of those familiar scents are toxic to your body and to the environment. Replace window cleaners, dish and hand soaps, and bathroom cleaners with green brands. Some of them may seem pricey but many are concentrated and will save money in the end. The benefits include improved health, increased clarity, a reduction in allergic reactions, and a healthier planet. A small price to pay.
Sustainable development cannot be achieved by a single individual or enterprise. Everyone must participate. You will demonstrate your leadership and commitment to a healthy, safe future by joining the ranks of business leaders who make sustainable choices.
Share your ideas here. What have you done to green your office?