Making your business greener and assuming environmental responsibility is the right thing to do and it can also present opportunities to cut back on costs.
Research carried out by the University of Tasmania shows that 30 percent of Australians would prefer to shop ethically, while 75 percent of millennials will actually pay extra for products or services that are sustainable and ethically sourced.
If you want your business to be greener, you must first define what environmental responsibility means to you. It could mean no single-use plastic packaging, or it could be transitioning to a paperless office. You must also set realistic goals.
Once you establish your goals, you must also think about what your customers want. Do they want organic, trade fair coffee, do they want less paper, or do they want to make a joint donation with you?
Here are ten ways to make your business greener and assume environmental responsibility without breaking the bank.
1 – Carpooling schemes
Organise a carpooling scheme at work. Everyone would prefer to save some money on petrol and help the planet at the same time. Carpooling can yield some great savings in terms of fuel costs, tolls and parking fees.
It gets cars off the roads, it’s without cost and it is effective.
2 – Cut down on waste
All businesses generate waste, but sometimes, the key is to buy products such as stationary or canteen staples which do not have a lot of packaging waste. Take practical measures, such as reusing paper that has been printed on for note taking.
Purchase refillable printer toners, pens and coffee jars. Set up a proper bin separation system so any waste that is generated can be recycled. Make sure all light switches are turned off at the end of the day, and don’t leave anything on standby.
3 – Get an energy audit
We all think we do our bit to be energy efficient, but most audits show that businesses waste energy. You should engage an energy audit firm to analyse your business to see where you are wasting energy.
They can recommend strategies that will lead to substantial savings in the long run. Wasted energy is unnecessary pollution and an extra expense.
4- Energy Efficient lighting
A great way to make your business greener and save money in the long term is to replace incandescent or halogen lights with Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights.
LEDs have a general life expectancy of 5,000 hours. If you use your lights for 10 hours a day, this works out to about 14 years. This is roughly 30 times longer than incandescent bulbs and 5 times longer than compact fluorescents.
You should also install timers and motion sensors to eliminate waste when people leave lights on in bathrooms, for example.
5 – Go Paperless and switch to the cloud
Going paperless (or as close to as possible) is another great way to make your business greener. Send all communication by email. Move your accounting functions to the cloud and make further savings.
If you do need to use paper, buy the recycled variety. Look out for Post-Consumer-Waste paper, as this is the only form of paper that is 100 percent recycled.
6 – Use biodegradable cleaners
There are plenty of brands out there that do not cost the earth. You can buy environmentally friendly dishwashing detergents, hand sanitizers, toilet cleaners and practically any other cleaning product you can think of.
If you engage the services of a cleaning company, check out their credentials to see whether they use green products and assume their own environmental responsibility.
7 – Replacing inefficient equipment
It’s still an expense, but replacing outdated and inefficient equipment will save you money in the long run. Always be on the lookout for energy star ratings and try to strike the best balance between staying within budget and making long-term cost savings through much improved energy efficiency.
8 – Telecommuting
If you have a modern business that is part of a cloud network, there is no need for employees to be in the office all of the time. You can hold video conference calls, screen share and workflow scheduling software to keep in sync.
Aside from offsetting transport pollution, you will make saving because when they work from home, employees will use their own utilities and equipment.
9 – Buy renewable energy
Many businesses are taking the plunge and opting to buy renewable energy. Subsidies on solar panels will likely be removed by 2021, so now would be a great time to install a system.
You can even opt for a Power Purchase Agreement, where you can buy energy directly from a provider who generates it from green sources such as solar or wind power. Green power prices are rapidly dropping and are on a par with fossil fuel generated prices.
10 – Tax Credits and grants
There are plenty of tax incentives on offer for businesses that want to do something for the environment. You could make a donation to an environmental charity or plant a local garden and claim it back as a tax deduction.
You can also apply for tax credits for making your office greener and assume environmental responsibility by installing solar panels, solar water heaters, double glazing and other measures.