In recent years, sustainable business practices have become an essential part of good business – and it is easier than you think to get started. The consumer market dictates the incorporation of eco-friendly policies into successful businesses of all sizes. The good news for your bottom line is: green initiatives increase profits by both attracting new customers and saving your business money on energy, gas, and water expenditure. Here are five simple low cost, high impact, green business practices that can be implemented in businesses of any size.
1. INCREASE LIGHT EFFICIENCY
The amount of effort required to switch to LED lighting can simply be answered by the question – how many employees does it take to change all the lightbulbs? While the initially purchasing cost of LED lights is slightly higher than comparable incandescent bulbs, LED light bulbs consume up to 90% less energy and last up to five times longer. The few extra dollars spent on LEDs pay for themselves and more via a reduced energy bill and fewer trips to the hardware store. Not only are LEDs more sustainable, but some sources estimate that using LED rather than incandescent light bulbs over a twenty year period saves about $150 dollars per lightbulb. LED bulbs also do not contain harmful mercury that is found in incandescent bulbs. This is one of the easiest to implement sustainable business practices.
2. INCENTIVIZE GREEN TRANSPORT TO WORK
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation is the largest contributor of carbon emissions in the United States, with light-duty vehicles such as passenger cars contributing to 60% percent of that footprint. Minimizing the number of employees who drive alone in passenger cars to work will greatly reduce the carbon output of your business. There are many strategies to implement greener transport, such as installing bike racks or organizing carpool routes. Many public transport systems will offer employers discounted fare cards to give to their employees, as will some bike-sharing and car-sharing memberships. Here is an example of discounted company fares in the Atlanta region.
3. BOOST YOUR OFFICE RECYCLING
The paper and plastic can recycling bins that you may already have in your office are a fantastic step in the right direction, however, recycling is evolving. Start a composting bin in the office – use composted material as fertilizer for your office plants. No office plants? Donate it to a local farm or allow employees to take some home for use in their own gardens. Implement programs to recycle the ‘unrecyclable’: items that cannot be sorted in traditional recycling systems such as foil-lined food wrappers, plastic snack bags, and ballpoint pens. Partnering with recyclers such as TerraCycle who collect and reuse ‘unrecyclable’ materials will aid your business in reducing waste. Other programs such as Loop can be used which ship, collect and refill products such as cleaning supplied to eliminate associated packaging waste.
4. REDUCE WATER USAGE
Aside from electricity and gas, water usage can be a large contributor to monthly bills. Installing aerator or laminar low flow faucets can reduce water use by 30 to 50%. Most faucets operate at about 2.2 gallons per minute, while low flow reduces usage to 1.5 gallons per minute. Aside from reducing flow, motion activated and metered water faucets decrease water waste by eliminating excess time when the faucet is left running. Not only will these practices decrease the monthly water bill, but water sustainability is a highly pertinent green initiative to businesses and consumers, especially in areas such as California which are experiencing water shortages
5. BEAT THE HEAT
Another method of both reducing energy usage and expanding the sustainability of your business is to critically examine the use of air conditioning units. Simply turning off the air conditioning at night will drastically reduce energy use and the energy bill. During the daytime, keep windows and doors closed while AC units are running. When possible, eliminate the use of air conditioning all together: the electrical cost of operating a ceiling fan can be up to 95% less than central AC systems. Using fans and air conditioning in tandem can also save money and energy in comparison to solely operating AC, as the cooling aspect of fans allow you to decrease the power level of actively running AC units.
More Green Business Practices
Want more green business practices and ideas for making your office eco-friendly? Check out last year’s GBB list of Five Green Business Practices for 2018. Or check out these simple energy saving tips in How To Make Your Business Go Green from KnowYourMoney.com.