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How To Be an Environmentally Friendly Small Business

Business Insurance

By Anne Valentino | September 23, 2017

Being an environmentally friendly business is important to many business owners and their customers. You don’t have to sacrifice your bottom line or do something huge to contribute either – every little bit counts.  In fact, you can often even save money by being environmentally friendly and many customers appreciate businesses making an effort.

Look at Your Energy Footprint

The first step is to examine how your business consumes energy. Look at things like lighting, devices, idling policies, company vehicle gas consumption, heating, air conditioning.

Here are some ways you can reduce your company’s energy footprint:

  • Set devices to turn off or go into sleep mode after only a minute or two of not being used.
  • If replacing devices, appliances, tools or equipment, investigate if there are more energy-efficient or environmentally friendly options such as those that are ENERGY STAR rated.
  • Use energy-saving features when available.
  • Unplug anything not being used daily or use power bars and shut those off.
  • Use rechargeable batteries where possible.
  • Replace lighting with LED bulbs.
  • Turn off lights where they’re not being used.
  • Use blinds to control sunlight (and its warming effect) on your workspace.
  • Keep up with building maintenance such as repairing caulking around windows and doors, as this improves the insulation.
  • If looking for or building a new workspace, consider the energy efficiency of the building (its insulation, window ratings, sun exposure, et cetera).
  • Program your thermostat around the workday or upgrade to a smart thermostat and be conscientious with the temperature setting.
  • Encourage car pooling or using public transit, if possible. Some employers even cover part of the monthly cost of transit tickets.
  • If you own your premises, consider installing solar panels or wind turbines.
  • Planting native trees outside your workspace can help keep your buildings cooler and clean the air.

Reducing energy consumption can save your business money on utility bills. There are also tax incentives offered for green energy initiatives. With solar and wind energy, you may even be able to sell energy back to the grid if you don’t use it.

Go Digital When You Can

Physical items take a lot of energy and resources to create and deliver. You can save energy and money by going digital when possible. For example, instead of mailing paper invitations to the company Christmas party, send email invitations and opt for digital gift cards rather than physical ones.

Even traditional paper collateral like brochures and information sheets can work digitally. Your website can also be leveraged and it will likely benefit your digital marketing.

Doing meetings online can also save a lot of time, energy and money, especially if you’re flying to other cities. Obviously, some meetings need to be in person, but if you can reduce the amount, your business will be more environmentally friendly.

Conserve Water

Conserving water is another way your business can be environmentally friendly. If your manufacturing process involves water, investigate ways to minimize water consumption and alternatives to water. Otherwise, here are some tips to conserve water:

  • Install automatic taps with aerators.
  • Regularly check for leaks and get them promptly repaired.
  • Install an on-demand hot water system.
  • Plant native plants and trees or consider less water-intensive landscaping.
  • Use rain barrels to collect rainwater to water any lawn or plants.
  • If you do irrigate, do so in the early morning to maximize water absorption and minimize evaporation.
  • Install low-flow restrictors.
  • When buying new or replacing existing equipment, opt for water-efficient models such as those with an ENERGY STAR rating.
  • Invest in a water recycling system.

Reducing water consumption can help reduce utility bills for your business. Proper landscaping can also reduce the impact of heavy rainfall or snowmelt on your premises.

Reduce, Reuse Recycle

The first step is to reduce consumption. Next, you should reuse instead of buying new where possible. Finally, you should to recycle.

Reducing consumption is pretty straightforward – only buy or consume what is necessary. For a business, this means ordering the right amount of materials and eliminating waste where you can. If you’re a manufacturer or ship goods, you can also reduce packaging or opt for more environmentally friendly packaging like choosing cardboard over plastic or biodegradable packing peanuts over styrofoam.

Resuing can include buying used, borrowing, reusing what you can, opting for refillable containers and other reusable products, and selling or donating where possible instead of throwing things away. Repairing equipment rather than replacing it is also a great way to reduce consumption and reuse it.

Finally, with recycling, you can attempt to recycle as much as possible. This includes paper, plastic, metal, glass, electronics and other things that are recyclable in your area. You can also compost!

Get Employees Involved

You can get employees involved by communicating clear expectations and tips for being environmentally friendly in the office. Encourage people to participate with competitions or prizes.

Get Professional Help

If you’re serious about reducing your company’s environmental impact, you can get an energy audit or hire a professional for guidance.

Being an environmentally friendly business doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. Even small changes make a difference. Don’t forget to look into government programs and tax benefits for businesses to help offset costs or gain access to resources. It’s an excellent way to save money and the environment.

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