When you are first putting your business plan together, you’re often not thinking about how your company may impact the environment. Those first months and years are busy enough just getting everything off the ground and buying your first piece of commercial real estate from a great broker without getting caught up in environmental best practices. Now that you’re more established and you’re looking for ways to both help lessen your environmental footprint and maybe gain a competitive edge, it’s time to take a hard look at how you can go green in your office.
One of the fastest ways we can combat unnecessary carbon buildup is to make hard choices to not do or use certain things that have a significant impact. Find ways to reduce your carbon footprint by doing some research and sourcing your materials (if you’re in manufacturing or retail) from places that have taken steps to be green themselves. Take a look at your vendor list and ask them what they are doing to reduce their carbon impact, if anything. Tell them that you are looking for a vendor who is environmentally conscious.
Reduce the amount of disposable plastics and paper that gets used in your office kitchen and break rooms. Provide actual silverware and have an environmentally friendly cleaning solution. Encourage your employees to use recyclable or more permanent dishes for their lunches and drinks. Even a small office can generate a lot of needless waste.
If you stay away from disposable dinnerware and food containers, it’s also a good idea to reuse other things around the office. Try to not throw away as much or any cardboard. Bob Villa even has almost 20 creative ways you can put that scrap cardboard to good use. Just because something has been used once doesn’t mean that it can’t be used again.
Here’s a list of things that are common in the office space that you can reuse (with a little added creativity):
Cans and bottles
Coffee grounds (compost)
Food waste (compost)
Packing peanuts and foam
Forks, knives, spoons, plates, bowls, etc.
Innovate to Profit
When you are thinking of new ways to go green, you have to be creative. Going green is not easy. To truly make an impactful reduction of your carbon footprint you have to get very creative and push the bounds of innovation. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty or even to fail. The important thing is that you are actively trying to make the world a better place.
Vote With Your Wallet
Going green doesn’t have to end with you. You can make economic choices with your business that can help the environment in huge ways. You can go with “green” vendors as mentioned above, but you can also do things like encourage green shoppers and clients by giving discounts and rebates as a reward for their environmental good decisions.
If you are a retail store, you can give discounts to people who bring their own bags, or who drove there in an electric car or by using public transportation. You can have people bring in their receipts for buying Energy Star appliances or other environmentally conscious products and give them a discount for doing so.
Benefits of “Going Green” With Your Business
Attract more clients by making your “green” choices a selling point for choosing you over the competition.
Being smart with “small” things saves you money and helps your business be prepared for the future. By investing your savings you can build a healthy nestegg your company can use during lean times or unexpected market turbulence.
Going green can save you money on some taxes. Look for “green” business tax breaks in your area.
Being a “green” company can be a great selling point when attracting top employee talent which can make you more competitive and versatile in your market.
Oh yeah, it’s great for the environment!
Just because going green starts with you doesn’t mean it has to end with you! Pass it along and make people think about it as they interact with your business.