By Rieva Lesonsky
With people the world over making concerted efforts to conserve and recycle, it would be noticeable (and, I believe, irresponsible) if you weren’t taking the green effort seriously in your business. Customers, small business loan officers and fellow small business owners in your community want to know small business owners run a socially responsible company and care about more than just the bottom line.
Luckily, the steps to greening your small business aren’t difficult to implement—and doing so can even save you a few dollars down the road.
- Water, water everywhere. You probably think you’re cool in your employees’ eyes if you supply them with bottles of water, but did you know that bottled water is not as strictly regulated as tap water? City water supplies must be tested for contaminants quarterly, while bottled water manufacturers only need to test once a year. Plus, plastics are the fourth largest category of municipal waste, according to the EPA. Most people know to recycle soda cans and plastic bottles, but you could help save waste and your bank account by going natural (i.e., tap water) or installing a filtered water system. To encourage workers to drink tap water (and get a little marketing bonus), purchase reusable water bottles or cups with your company logo on them.
- Save a tree. Do you really need to print out a hard copy of that document? As long as you back up your computer system regularly and have an organized folder system, the answer is no. Keeping a digital file of your important files offsite by using an online backup service not only saves paper and toner, it also helps you get your business back on its feet in case of an emergency like fire, flood or computer crash.
- Speaking of toner cartridges. There are a variety of things you can do with your empty printer, fax and copier cartridges—so don’t just throw them in the trash. Set up a system to get them refilled at a chain such as cartridgeworldusa.com. Or, buy only recycled cartridges from a place like dolphinblue.com (you can even register them at Recycleplace.com, mail in your empty cartridges and get a check back in the mail). You can also help your community by donating the empties to your local school so they can turn them in for cash.
- Buy green. Office equipment manufacturers offer an array of energy efficient products and equipment. Look for the Energy Star symbol when purchasing computers, monitors, cordless phones and audio/video equipment. For a list of green equipment, go to EnergyStar.gov. Then replace all your light bulbs with energy-efficient ones and you’ll see an immediate reduction in your electric bill. Too many business owners think buying green is more expensive, but it’s not. I promise you won’t need a small business loan to be environmentally correct.
- Post ideas for employees. Get your employees involved and put up a bulletin board for all to contribute ideas. To get started, suggest employees use reusable containers for their lunch, not use the printer unless really necessary, turn off lights and monitors when not in use … the list can go on. See what innovative ideas your staff can come up with.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports