Small Businesses Going Green: Trendy and Effective

A view across a reverse osmosis delination plant.
A view across a reverse osmosis delination plant. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

“Going green” may be trendy for companies, but it’s ultimately a smart business move. Taking steps to reduce the company emissions and carbon, cut waste and conserve resources is good for the bottom line and for investor and community relations. Whether you’re a big business or a small enterprise, there are ways to green your appearance.

Going green: Why it’s important

Financially speaking, the costs of going green are offset by the tax incentives that companies can claim for adopting green practices and the regular cash savings realized by adopting green practices. Installing solar panels, for example, comes with a high setup cost. As companies generate power themselves, money saved accrues to cover the cost of installation and then becomes a net cash savings. Even smaller initiatives, such as recycling and conserving paper by printing double-sided and printing less, have an impact. These measures save internal resources and often make employees and clients feel good about the company.

Learning from the greats

It’s not just companies like Whole Foods that have a green footprint, these days. When thinking about ways to become more environmentally friendly, take inspiration from the following companies:

  • Giving Back- As much a product as a mission, Tom’s Shoes formed to give back. For every pair of Tom’s purchased, a pair is donated to a child in need in one of 50 countries.
  • Sourcing Ethically- Among the computing companies, Hewlett Packard has really stepped up to source minerals ethically and use recycled materials and packaging when possible.
  • Serving Local- Part bakery, part fast-food place, Le Pain Quotidien gets green marks for its sourcing and take-back programs, green energy and local menu.
  • Saving Fuel – Many fleet companies are using fuel management to go green and reduce inefficiency by providing better vehicle and driver management.

Ways to go green

There are many ways to go green. Start small, and then tackle larger ones as your confidence or your budget increases. Practices to consider include:

  • Buying in bulk – Instead of purchasing new toner every time office toner runs out, buy bulk toner and refill cartridges yourself. This saves on plastic waste and packaging.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle – The old adage still stands. Install recycling containers near printers and in work break rooms. More recycling means less waste. If possible, implement a composting program to turn unwanted food into garden fuel. How many employees leave leftovers in your refrigerators?
  • Buy green and clean green – Green your own supply chain by purchasing green products when possible. Environmentally friendly cleaning products offer a convenient place to start. Not only are the products green, they cut down on chemical exposure in the workplace.
  • Provide bicycle racks and showers – Help employees commute alternatively by making the workplace more bike-friendly. Consider rewarding employees who do ride to work or hosting a “Bicycle to Work” day.
  • Explore alternative energy – Investigate wind power and solar power as a way to fuel your business. You can use energy or store it and sell excess energy back to the grid, receiving credits on your bill.

As you adopt green methods, share the news with employees, clients and local organizations through your company newsletter or blog. You may gain new fans who appreciate your environmental stance, and the good PR gained from going green is never a bad thing.

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