Going “green” is something that more and more customers are prioritizing. Last year, nearly 60% of consumers reported they’d be willing to change how they shop to limit environmental impact. In the same study, 80% reported that sustainability is a priority for them.
But becoming a green business shouldn’t only be about public image. It should be about doing your part to help the planet heal and last. And it doesn’t take much.
We’ve put together a comprehensive list of the simplest ways to make your business more environmentally friendly. Start with one or two and work up to incorporating as many as you can.
Brainstorm Your Options
A great place to start is by brainstorming with your team. Some of your employees are likely familiar with environmentally-friendly habits. Maybe they’ve already researched how to lead green lifestyles.
Bringing your employees into the conversation shows that you value their opinions. It also helps them take some ownership over the process. They’ll feel more engaged and therefore more willing to follow through.
Your employees may also contribute ideas you hadn’t thought of. There are many benefits to brainstorming. If you start off getting your entire team involved in going green, you’re likely to have more tools to work with.
Sell or Donate Used Electronics
A simple way to become a greener workplace is by selling or donating your used electronics. Many people don’t think about how their old electronics end up in the landfill. But over time, they corrode, leaking harmful chemicals into the earth.
By selling old electronics, not only are you recycling in a sense, but you’re also getting a bit of your money back. You can reinvest that money can into the company or use it to buy something else you need.
If you donate your old electronics, you’re also saving them from ending up in the landfill. Not only that, but you’re offering them to people who may use them for years to come.
Another way to get rid of your electronics is to recycle them. Check online for drop-off locations near you. Or, call your local office supply store and see if they offer recycling services for electronics.
Allow Your Employees to Work Remotely
If most of your company’s work is done online, why not get your employees set up to work remotely?
One benefit of remote work is how it positively affects your employees. Working remotely gives them more flexibility. This can reduce stress and improve their sense of work-life balance.
Employees that are less stressed are less likely to become sick, miss days, or be unproductive. It’s also better for the environment. Every car that stays off the road keeps copious amounts of carbon dioxide out of the air.
It also means your company saves money on all those items it has to keep stocked. You may even be able to cut costs around heating, cooling, and lighting, too.
Offer Commuter Benefits
If remote work isn’t possible, offer benefits to those who opt to commute via public transit. Buses, trains, and subways are some of the greenest methods of transportation.
Companies can offer benefits like transit pass reimbursement or discounts. You may be able to partner with city transit companies to offer monthly or yearly passes at a lower rate.
Reducing your packaging isn’t as hard as it may seem. As a first step, try not to add non-recyclable fillers to your mailing.
In particular, styrofoam damages the environment. And plastic cannot break down once it’s in a landfill.
So try using shredded paper as a filler instead. It cushions your items without adding too much extra weight. Best of all, it can be recycled!
Speaking of recycling, encourage your employees to do so. Place recycling bins all over the office.
For ease of access, there should be a bin everywhere recyclable products are used. Think by the printer, in the kitchen, the mailroom, and in meeting rooms.
Each desk should have both a garbage can and a small recycling bin. If you’re working with a cleaning crew read this resource and hire a team that is committed to recycling.
Use Sustainable Materials
Check the labels on your items to see if they’re sourced from sustainable materials. Dishes and utensils made from recycled materials are a great starting point. Additionally, eco-friendly toilet paper or paper towel products are helpful, too.
Another place to reduce your environmental footprint is in your cleaning supplies. Many include chemicals that, when flushed, end up damaging natural bodies of water. Additionally, they’re typically packaged in plastic.
Check for natural cleaning agents that come in recyclable containers. Encourage your employees to use these instead of the chemically-based ones.
Source Secondhand Items
When you’re considering new furniture or electronics, look for secondhand offerings. You’ll likely save money this way. And, you’ll be engaging in a form of recycling; you’ll be reusing products with life left in them instead of opting for something brand-new.
Secondhand doesn’t have to mean lower quality. A lot of times, people offer their used goods for sale because they don’t need them anymore or have never used them. You might be surprised by what you’re able to find!
Upgrade Your Energy-Efficiency
This is as easy as changing a lightbulb. Literally!
If you haven’t made the switch to LED lightbulbs, you should. They save your company money by using less electricity to run and they last much longer. In fact, LEDs can last up to 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
Opt for blue-hued bulbs that will keep your employees feeling alert and productive.
Encourage Green Behavior
A key part of going green is getting your team on board. The initial brainstorm may have sparked interest at first. But if enthusiasm is waning, encourage your employees with incentive programs.
Celebrate employees who bring their own lunch to work. Encourage employees to use reusable dishware in the kitchen instead of disposable products. The little things your employees do each day will contribute in large ways.
Reduce Paper Usage
Many businesses going green are opting to cut down on their paper usage. It’s all about reducing waste. The less paper you use (and throw away), the less garbage there is in landfills.
This is especially true if you’re not recycling all that paper. Try cutting back on how much you print.
For starters, don’t hand out hard copies of your meeting agendas; display them digitally. Instead of printing out task lists for your employees, use an online management tool. And if you’re in retail, ask your customers if they want their receipt before printing one.
Green Your Bathrooms
There are two areas in any office that produce the most waste: the bathrooms and the kitchens. But you can green up both of them!
Start by using recycled paper towels in the bathrooms with spaces to recycle them in. If you want to go a step further, install hand-dryers instead.
Alternatively, you can bring hand towels instead. Just make sure you’re able to have them laundered regularly. Low-flow or motion-sensor faucets can help reduce the amount of water used, too.
Green Your Kitchen
To green your kitchen, consider how much people are throwing away each day. Are there ways you can reduce this? Try starting with not having any disposable cutlery, dishware, or cups in the kitchen.
If you have a coffee machine, try to avoid the ones that use small, plastic coffee pods. You can also turn off the machine in the afternoon to avoid using excess power.
Encourage your employees to recycle any paper or plastic wrappings they bring in. Use environmentally-friendly dish soaps and sponges.
Bring in Plants
A fun way to literally green up your office is by bringing in live plants. But what do plants have to do with sustainability? It turns out, live plants can improve employee productivity by 15%.
While you’re at it, bring in art, too. And encourage employees to take their morning coffee break or connect at lunch.
These little gestures can help employees feel less stressed and more focused at work. This improves their productivity, helping your business run more efficiently.
Become a Green Business
Turning your business into a green business takes time and effort, but is well worth it. You don’t have to overhaul your entire company structure overnight. Start with one item on this list and work up from there.
Before you know it, your company will be working more efficiently. And it’ll be doing its part to help the environment.
For more on office place best-practices, visit our business section.