What Can Businesses Gain by Going Green?
Aside from the positive benefits for the planet, taking measures to protect the environment helps build a stronger business and is good news for the bottom line. It can increase efficiency of business operations, save on costs, and help boost company image and employee morale. When you do something good, it doesn’t go unnoticed!
Research findings from the Natural Marketing Institute show that consumers are 58% more likely to buy a company’s products or services if they know the company is mindful of its impact on the environment and society.
- Cost savings
Energy and water conservation, energy-efficient office improvements, and recycling all help to significantly cut bills. By taking simple steps to reduce waste and energy use, you could save money that you never knew you were losing.
- Enhance your brand image
Being known as a green business is good PR – not only to customers, but also to future employees and business partners. Being environmentally conscious helps a business establish themselves as trustworthy and responsible, and gives their product a competitive advantage.
- Improve efficiency of business operations
With more sustainable business practices comes better use and allocation of resources. This can help to streamline operations and save on unnecessary costs.
- Increase staff productivity
When employees are involved in making a business greener, they feel more engaged and committed to helping the business succeed. Greener businesses also tend to create a safer and healthier work environment, which means the company will lose less money through staff sick time.
- Increase employee retention and recruitment
Being green means looking after people as well as the environment, so it may give your business the edge to attract the best staff. Employees want to work with companies who are mindful of their environmental impacts.
Ways to Green Your Office
We spend a significant amount of time at our workplace – so we can all do our part at work to be as environmentally minded as we are at home. Creating a greener office can mean a healthier and safer place to work, a lighter ecological footprint, and cost savings for your organization.
Here are some no-cost or low-cost ways to make impactful changes:
- Reduce and recycle
Office paper is highly recyclable and wastes a valuable natural resource when disposed of improperly. However, simply reducing the amount of paper used is even more effective than recycling, because it reduces the amount of material that needs to be collected, transported, and processed. In addition to paper, be sure to recycle any plastic, glass, metal or cardboard items.
- Go digital
Send messages and save files electronically instead of printing them.
- Purchase eco-friendly office supplies
Look for paper and supplies made with recycled content. Recycled paper is produced using 60-70% less energy and saves a ton of water. When it comes to desks, chairs and office equipment, look for an environmentally-conscious retailer or products made with eco-friendly materials (such as bamboo or recycled plastic).
- Don’t leave the lights on
Simple but cost-effective. When a room is not in use, hit the light switch. Lights also put off heat, increasing air conditioning costs in the warmer months.
- Buy washable dishware
There’s no reason your kitchen at work should be different than your kitchen at home. Using reusable cups, plates and silverware will drastically reduce waste and save money spent on constantly replenishing a stock of single-use dining ware. Americans throw away an estimated 25 billion Styrofoam cups each year, which are non-biodegradable and can sit in a landfill for hundreds or thousands of years.
- Shut down or put your computer in sleep mode
Place your computer to “sleep” when stepping away for more than 10 minutes. If you’re going to be away for more than 2 hours, be sure to power down completely. Computers are major energy hogs.
- Adjust your print settings
Set the default settings on your office printer to double-sided, black and white. This will not only use less paper, but it will conserve ink.
- Program your thermostat
As most people know, heating and cooling systems are one of the biggest users of energy in a building. Control heating and cooling overuse by programming your thermostat to a set number in the summer and winter. As a general rule, set it to 76-78 degrees in the summer and 68-70 degrees in the winter.
Ways to Green Your Restaurant
Restaurants use about five to seven times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings. By implementing more sustainable practices, restaurants have the opportunity to make a big difference in cost savings, public relations, and environmental impact.
Here are some simple ways to get started with sustainable changes:
- Upgrade to energy efficient appliances
Ovens, refrigerators, and other large equipment are major energy hogs – meaning that major dollars and energy can be saved by switching to more energy efficient models. Start by replacing appliances that are older or in need of repair with EnergyStar products (or ones with similar energy-efficient standards).
- Buy local
Buying local food not only reduces the amount of carbon emissions and travel distance to get food from the farm to your door – it also supports local farmers, is healthier and fresher, and feeds money back into the local economy. A win-win for everyone.
- Recycle (or compost)
As simple as it sounds, recycling in your business could divert a LOT of trash from the landfill and reduce the amount of money you pay to dispose of garbage. It’s also a plus for your customers – people are happy to see businesses offer an environmentally responsible option for their waste.
- Make straws optional
Instead of handing out straws automatically, provide them only upon request. They are not recyclable, and in most cases aren’t necessary.
- Use cloth instead of paper
Cloth napkins and kitchen towels can be washed and reused, whereas paper napkins pile up in the garbage bin and have to be constantly restocked.
- Switch to plastic or biodegradable takeout containers
Styrofoam is a major no-no on the environmental scale, and it’s not recyclable or reusable. Plastic containers can at least be recycled, and biodegradable containers are typically made from recycled content and can be composted.
- Switch to LED lighting
LED light bulbs use at least 75% less energy and last significantly longer than traditional bulbs (reducing the cost and hassle of replacement). They also produce less heat – lowering air conditioning costs, too!