The phrase “going green” has gotten more than its 15-minutes of fame in our culture, but it really boils down to making decisions that help sustain natural resources and help protect the environment. What is great is that by making some of these decisions for your small business, you can save money too.
Here are some simple and inexpensive ways you can “green” your workplace.
Monitor Your Energy Use
For many small businesses, energy costs are a big part of their monthly expenses. Many utility and community-based service companies offer free or low-cost energy audits to help you target where you can save money.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Maximize daylight. Place desks and workspaces near windows to reduce the amount of lighting you need during the day. Consider skylights to lighten up dark areas where possible.
- Turn off computers, printers and other electronics when not in use. Unplug chargers too.
- Your heated and cooled air may be literally slipping through the cracks. Seal and insulate around doors and windows.
- Consider installing a wireless programmable thermostat to adjust the temperature according to your business activity.
- Replace incandescent and standard fluorescent lighting with compact fluorescent lighting and, with long-lasting, energy efficient LED lighting. Turn off lights when not in use.
Reduce Paper Waste
Going paperless saves time, money and storage space. Use online billing and payments. Store your records in a cloud-based accounting system.
Print out only what needs to be printed and when you do, print on both sides. You can purchase recycled paper for your printing needs and re-use any one-sided paper that comes into your office for notes.
Using recycled ink cartridges is another way you can cut down on expenses while reducing the number of cartridges headed to the landfills.
Cut back on direct mail marketing and focus on social media marketing to save on printing and mailing costs. Remove your company’s name from any non-essential snail mailing lists to cut back on the paper that comes into your office.
Cut Transportation Expenses
Another way to “go green’ is by rethinking the way you and your team travel to and from work and for work-related events. For example, could you provide incentives that will encourage your team to carpool? What about a primo parking space for carpoolers only?
Many public transportation companies offer incentive programs for businesses. Look into group discounts for monthly passes, for example.
You Don’t Need New Everything
The phrase “Reduce, reuse and recycle” does not just have to do with bottles, cans and paper. Purchasing used office furniture is a great way to save money and to practice recycling at its finest.
Check online auction houses, Craigslist, thrift stores and newspaper classified for what is available in your area. With a little time and patience, you can score barely-used desks, shelves and chairs at a fraction of the cost of new furniture. Another bonus is the unique look you can give your workspace.
Depending on the needs of your business, you may come out ahead by purchasing used or refurbished computers and other electronics or machinery as well.
Go Green, Literally
Adding plants to your workspace is a healthy choice. Plants absorb airborne pollutants, provide oxygen and emit healthy negative ions into the air. What is more, plants can make your employees feel better.
According to a 2014 study by Exeter University published in the journal of the American Psychological Association, employees were 15 percent more productive when “bare” workplaces were filled with just a few houseplants.
Another study by Washington State University found that workers working in an office with common house plants were 12 percent more productive and reported less stress than workers in a plant-free environment.
Research by the Environmental Research Laboratory shows that rooms filled with plants contain up to 60 percent fewer airborne molds and bacteria than rooms without plants. Interior plants also work to absorb noise, which can be distracting to workers. According to the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, replacing stale cubicle walls with plant groupings can reduce significantly indoor noise.