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.
- 15 Steps to Transform Your Business into a Lean, Green, Eco-Efficient Machine
- 1. Invest in LED Lighting
- 2. Install an Office Skylight
- 3. Use Green Stationery
- 4. Eliminate Printing Waste
- 5. Ban Screensavers
- 6. Start Telecommuting
- 7. Use Less Paper
- 8. Save Water
- 9. Sustainable Packaging
- 10. Go Local!
- 11. Reduce Carbon Footprint
- 12. Practice Proper Waste Disposal
- 13. Dispose of E-Waste Properly
- 14. Opt for Energy-Efficient Appliances
- 15. Go Solar
- Why It’s Important to Set Green Goals and Stick to Them?
15 Steps to Transform Your Business into a Lean, Green, Eco-Efficient Machine
This guide to the simplest and most creative ways to go green will help your business find its inner eco-warrior.
1. 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 LED lighting because it represents such a simple change in exchange for huge cost savings.
2. 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.
3. 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 billionths 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 landfills, 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.
4. 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.
5. Ban Screensavers
While it might sound a little fussy about banning 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 a sleep mode so that it’s not wasting power while the team is eating lunch or holding a meeting.
6. Start Telecommuting
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, but you’ll also 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.
7. Use Less Paper
Use paper as little as possible. Thoughtful paper use is a simple step, and businesses already use online contact forms and newsletters. Insist on digital copies as your first choice; use double-sided copies when you did have to print and recycled paper sold in 5000 sheet boxes rather than shrink-wrapped 250 sheets. The paper you could save over a year makes a big difference.
8. Save Water
Audit your taps. Drinking water is becoming scarce; therefore, running it away wastefully reflects badly on your business and your costs.
A dripping faucet can cost you 10,000 liters a year; a running toilet can lose that much in a month. Many buildings install waterless urinals and low-flow toilets. Gray water recycling systems to flush toilets or water landscaping is popular in some areas. Investment in rainwater collection and xeriscape landscaping is also smart. Consider upgrading equipment like dishwashers, cooling towers and laundry systems and other old fittings to their low water and low energy consumption equivalents.
9. Sustainable Packaging
Focus on reducing the amount of waste generated and the energy and water used in your packaging to save the environment as well as boosting profit margin. How much waste and plastic are you diverting from the landfill gives big results!
Avoid plastics made from polyethylene, styrofoam, multi-layered packaging, polystyrene, fossil fuel energy and non-recyclable materials. Use instead biodegradable plastics, plant-based plastics, recycled products, alternative energy sources, post-consumer recycled polyethylene bags made from recycled waste, recycled molded packaging. When possible, select items with the least amount of packaging possible and retool your own products to eliminate excess packaging.
10. Go Local!
Choose the most fuel- and time-efficient modes of transportation to both purchase goods and deliver your product to customers. GPS software can be used in case of its own delivery fleet to create routes with reduced in-traffic idling time and the most fuel-efficient distances.
Your first choice should always be to buy products locally made over goods traveling a long distance. Ordering larger quantity minimizes trips. For delivery, consider a minimum order size to reduce the frequency of deliveries and use common carriers where possible.
11. Reduce Carbon Footprint
An eco-friendly business looks for ways to decrease the use of fossil fuels by purchasing hybrid or alternative fuel company fleet vehicles. Allow employees to avoid coming into the office at all. Avoiding even one daily commute per employee every week makes a big difference in carbon emissions for the year.
Encourage alternate transportation like biking or public transport. Additionally, specialized software can create optimum carpool partners and routes. There are companies that offer employees an incentive to purchase a hybrid or electric vehicles.
12. Practice Proper Waste Disposal
Businesses of all shapes and sizes generate waste. Some examples include paper, old furniture, broken electronics, printer cartridges, and even lunch waste. Proper segregation and disposal of these wastes are very much important; else you’ll end up harming the environment.
13. Dispose of E-Waste Properly
Businesses generate a huge amount of electronic waste or e-waste, like cell phones, TVs and monitors, printers, laptops and desktop computers. Globally millions of metric tonnes of e-waste are produced every year and end up damaging the environment, as well as affecting human health and safety. The businesses can help curb this problem by looking for places that need donations, like schools or charitable institutions. If the gadget or device can’t be saved, ensure that they’re properly recycled.
14. Opt for Energy-Efficient Appliances
Whenever you decide to get rid of old equipment, replace them with energy-efficient ones. Do an “energy check” and see which brands and models are more energy-efficient and buy those products. For businesses, some of the first energy-efficient items that you should invest in are air-conditioning units and refrigerators.
15. Go Solar
Powering just a small part of your business using alternative energy sources can make a big difference. One of the most accessible ways to do this is installing solar panels on the roof or even walls that get a lot of sunlight. Another great thing about using alternative and renewable energy is that you may get incentives from the government and different organizations.
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.