A Step by Step Guide to Transform Your Business into a Lean, Green, Eco-Efficient Machine
Over the years, our understanding of sustainability has developed significantly. We now know that simply recycling milk bottle tops and using energy efficient light bulbs is not enough. We need to take proactive action if we want to have a positive impact on the environment. Rather than waiting until the electricity, gas, or food packaging is out there in the world, we must change our habits and find new and ever greener ways to live.
For businesses especially, sustainability is key. It not only fulfills an essential social responsibility, it also substantially lowers operational costs. It helps managers to run a leaner, tighter ‘ship’ and become more agile. So, if your enterprise is still in the dark ages when it comes to sustainable technology and design, it is time to start eliminating waste, streamlining your daily processes, and expanding your green credentials.
This guide to the simplest and most creative ways to go green will help your business find its inner eco-warrior.
Invest in LED Lighting
Currently, LED bulbs are the most energy efficient choice on the market. A single bulb can shine for as long as 50,000 hours, so they combine sustainability with quite remarkable degrees of longevity as well. This is equivalent to five years of constant use, which means that, in theory, you’d only have to replace LED bulbs twice every decade. Modern businesses should consider investing in LEDlighting, because it represents such a simple change in exchange for huge cost savings.
Install an Office Skylight
Or, you could invest in an expansive office skylight. These broad, beautiful window designs are wildly popular, because they’re as stylish as they are green. Plus, they’re easy to install, boost workplace productivity, and increase security in general; if you don’t have to open as many low level windows, there’s less opportunity for unwanted visitors. High quality skylights flood rooms with natural daylight and ensure that employees feel happy, comfortable, and at ease while they work.
Use Green Stationery
This is an energy saving tip that most businesses are yet to catch up with, even though it could save them a significant amount each year. In 2005, Bic sold its 100 billionth disposable pen. Now, that is a huge number, but it accounts for only one of many disposable stationery manufacturers currently in operation. The total amount of waste must be astronomical and it’s not just wasted materials that end up in landfill, it is wasted profits too. So, swap out your disposable pens for refillable ones and make it company policy to take care of personally assigned stationery.
Eliminate Printing Waste
Waste originating from printing efforts is actually a huge problem for lots of companies, because sustainability tends to take a backseat to speed. We want to get our documents out and we want to do it as quickly as possible, so that employees can get back to their desks. The good news is that there are now special pieces of software that automatically ‘tidy up’ print jobs. They identify waste areas – for example, empty pages in the middle of a run or pages with just one sentence – and rearrange the content so that it uses no more paper than it needs to. GreenPrint and EcoPrint2 are two popular examples of this kind of software.
While it might sound a little fussy to ban something frivolous like computer screensavers, the reality is that they waste energy. If an employee is gone from their computer long enough for a screensaver to appear, it would be greener to replace it with a sleep cycle. In other words, you don’t have to power the machine down completely; just prompt it to enter sleep mode, so that it’s not wasting power while the team is eating lunch or holding a meeting.
The notion of telecommuting – allowing employees to work from home – would have been unthinkable twenty years ago, but it is very common for contemporary businesses. Just a single day of distance work every month can reduce your carbon footprint by a startling amount. Not only is your team contributing less to traffic pollution, you’ll save on energy costs throughout the entire day, and make it clear to employees that trust, flexibility, and agility are key to success. You’ll even save on unexpected areas like dry cleaning costs, toilet water waste, stationery, and paper.
Why It’s Important to Set Green Goals and Stick to Them
It can be tricky, at first, to transition from a place of no green goals to the consistent and organic implementation of sustainable processes. However, it is important to realize that even gradual change is better than no change at all. And, at heart, sustainability is really in the hands of your employees anyway. You can supply reusable stationery and establish green targets, but it is up to them to take the initiative and commit to sustainable development.
This is why things like workplace incentives and reward schemes are so helpful. They ensure that workers aren’t just being told to reuse pens or print more carefully; they actually benefit from doing so. For instance, something as simple as awarding prizes to employees who manage to hold onto their stationery for a whole year can be both fun and inspiring. Or, you could even put a percentage of the money saved from green schemes back into gifts and team activities.
The key is to make your employees a part of this new and exciting movement. Don’t just force sustainability on them; make it worthwhile. Establish office goals and make the simple stuff – like turning off your computer at the end of the day – a part of company policy. That way, your workers can feel like they’re contributing to positive change, rather than being forced to change old and often stubborn habits. All businesses, big and small, have a responsibility to be mindful of their impact on the world, but saving the planet is very much a team job.
Image credit: pashminu
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