American industries contribute 7.6 billion tons of solid waste to landfills a year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports. As a business owner, you can positively impact the environment just by changing a few basic business practices. These changes can be anything from starting a recycling program to investing in green infrastructure. Here’s a roundup of our best tips to go green and save money at work:
Cut Down on Printing
According to the EPA, about 70 million tons of paper and paperboard are used in America every year. Suggestions to reduce this include:
-Don’t print out emails unnecessarily
-Store more files electronically
-Print double-sided copies
-If you receive multiple subscriptions to the same newspaper or magazine, reduce that to one copy and pass it around the office—or, get an online subscription.
Get Rid of the Disposable Cups and Dishware
Replace the Styrofoam and paper cups with reusable mugs. Styrofoam is rarely recyclable and has been linked to ozone depletion, and paper cups aren’t much better—besides costing trees, the process of manufacturing paper cups requires more energy and costs more than Styrofoam, GreenDesignEtc.net reports. While reusable mugs are more work for staff (they have to wash it when they’re done), they are more energy-efficient. If you must use disposable dishes, consider getting compostable products.
Stop Buying Bottled Water
For meetings, get a pitcher and glasses rather than a case of plastic bottles. Incentivize your employees to forego bottled water by getting them reusable Kleen Kanteens or BPA-free bottles to use at work.
Start an Office Recycling Program
From used paper to soda bottles (because you already got rid of the bottled water, right?) to composting food waste, cut down on the amount of trash your company produces. Recycle printer cartridges and copier toner, and find out if there is production waste that could be recycled or reused by someone else. Find out if your city has a waste-to-profit network, where one business’s scrap becomes another’s raw material.
Reduce Your Energy Use
There are simple fixes that reduce your energy use and save money.
-Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs
-Make sure employees turn off computers at night
-If you run a 24-hour operation, move some of your more energy-intensive operations to the night shifts, when energy is not at peak rates
-Use Energy Star appliances and make sure your machinery is running at its most efficient—no leaks, clogged lines or dripping lubricants
-If you live in an area with more than one energy provider, visit energysavings.com to compare rates, make sense of the different energy products and find ways to negotiate with energy providers.
Make Changes in Your Business Practices
If you are a manufacturer or distributor, take a hard look at the processes and products your company uses. How much water and energy do you use to make your product? In his book “Nature’s Fortune,” The Nature Conservancy CEO Mark Tercek describes how businesses from Cargill to DOW Chemical have incorporated environmental practices into their business models—not because they’re tree-hugging environmentalists, but because it made good business sense. For DOW, it meant finding ways to preserve a river that fed one of their local plants in Texas, because without the water, they couldn’t manufacture.