The hottest trend for companies right now is not to have a funny social media stream or to create viral Vine videos. It’s to be more environmentally conscious — not only in terms of how products are produced or services are offered, but also in how the business is operated. More consumers are voting with their dollars, demanding that companies do better with their global citizenship and take responsibility for caring for the Earth. Not only are companies realizing that going green helps them get more sales, but it also helps them save money.
Here are a few things you can do to make your business a little more environmentally friendly so you can start reaping some of the benefits:
Extend the Life of Equipment
Even when you can’t choose supplies or equipment that are made of recyclable or sustainable, you can make your equipment more environmentally friendly by extending its life. In most cases, you can add years to a piece of equipment by simply maintaining it well. In cases of heavy duty or specialized machinery, you can extend the life by adding specialized parts, such as wear plates provided by an industrial supply company like The A.J. Weller Corporation.
If you aren’t sure what steps to take for the equipment you own, talk to a consultant about issues like maintenance, protecting the machines from wear, changing the supplies used in them, and so on. There are ways to get many years or even decades of life out of any kind of commercial and industrial equipment.
Choose Recyclable and Sustainable Materials
Every purchase you make is an opportunity to make an environmental impact — for good or for bad. When you buy paper for the printer, you can reduce your impact by choosing paper made from trees grown through sustainable practices or paper made from recycled materials. When you buy bulbs for the lamps or fixtures, you can choose LED bulbs that use less energy.
Similarly, when it comes to packaging, opt for sustainable cardboard shipping boxes. By choosing recyclable and eco-friendly materials, you can ensure your business positively contributes to the environment. Small steps like these collectively add up to significant environmental benefits and demonstrate your commitment to sustainability to your customers and the wider community.
Of course, you can also make major purchases that have a much more profound impact. For example, you can have solar panels installed so that you run as much of your practice on renewable energy if you can. Depending on the kind of business you have, you may even be able to produce excess energy to sell to the power company for credits. Other eco-friendly options can include reducing your water usage, reducing waste, purchasing used or refurbished equipment, cutting back on packaging, and reducing emissions.
Consider Allowing Telecommuting
Some businesses need all hands on deck, such as industrial-scale suppliers and commercial manufacturers. But even those businesses don’t need every single employee on site every day. For example, the bookkeeper can probably do the majority of work from home, with occasional stops into the office to pick up receipts or to get forms signed. If you have a business where much of the work is done on the computer, you can probably allow a great number of your employees to work from home. You would just need to invest in project management software, but the expense would be much less than maintaining an office space.
The more employees you have working from home, the more you are helping to save in gas consumption and emissions. You may even be able to downsize your office space or eliminate it completely, which would help you save on electricity and variety of other costs (and practices that are harmful to the environment). Even allowing just a handful of employees to telecommute full-time — or even just part-time — will make a difference. You’ll save money, and you’ll be a better environmental steward.
No matter what kind of business you run, there are many ways, both large and small, to reduce your company’s impact on the environment. Even if you start small, you will be making positive progress, and you’ll be building on habits that can cumulate for a bigger impact later. Once you start making these changes, you’ll see that there are such positive benefits for your company that you will want to make more. Plus, you’ll be building a reputation as an eco-conscious company, which will help you improve your brand image and help you attract more customers.