22 Apr 2010

The Best Green Business Ideas to Help the Environment

When coming up with new business goals, we tend to look for ways to improve our deliverables, work ethic, or processes to benefit the bottom line.  But we rarely take the time to get our teams together and find ways to benefit the environment around us. Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution, a monthly goal, or a nod to Earth Day, it’s never too late to go green in the office. Here are some green business ideas that can help the environment and your company this year.

Cut Back on Paper-Usage

Believe it, or not, the average U.S. office goes through 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year, according to the US EPA. Instead of printing out endless copies of documents for your employees, consider saving them on a shared drive or create a presentation that can be viewed collectively during a meeting.

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Another great way to cut back on paper-usage in the office is to use recycled paper. Recycled paper uses 60-70% less energy to produce than paper from virgin pulp. Recycled paper looks denser than new paper, making the print on both sides easier to read. Awesome, right?!  Here are a few more ideas to save paper in the office:

  • Start using PDFs: Rather than printing out your newsletter or flyer, convert it to a PDF (for free using PrimoPDF) and send it via email instead. You’ll save a lot in printing costs, especially if you do regular newsletters.
  • Create eBooks or Free Guides: Instead of publishing a hardcopy book, report, or training manual, make it an eBook instead. Free eBooks can help you build your email list, as well as be distributed and updated easily as evergreen content.
  • Use email for resumes: Rather than having job applicants fax their resumes, have them email it instead. Review resumes on your PC and keep them organized for future reference while keeping your desk clutter free!
  • Digital invoices: Instead of mailing or faxing invoices, why not email them? Invoices get delivered the same day and usually with the bonus of having a delivery receipt from Outlook so clients cannot say they did not receive it as an excuse to delay payment.

Rethink Eco Friendly Lighting

Did you know that compact fluorescent bulbs use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and they last up to 10 times longer? Not only will you conserve energy and reduce waste, you’ll actually save money by using them. Here are some other ideas on how to rethink eco friendly lighting for your workplace:

  • Utilize Natural Light: Although this depends greatly on office layout and window space, using natural light is a great way to go green in the office. 40% of electricity consumption in a typical office building is from artificial lighting, so open those blinds and let natural sunlight be your main source for lighting.
  • Install Motion Sensors: Do you ever walk around the office and notice lights on in rooms that nobody uses? Do you leave the conference room lights on even if there isn’t a meeting? Consider installing motion-activated light switches or motion sensors throughout the office. If someone isn’t using an area for a specified amount of time, the lights will turn off on their own!

Use Green Office Equipment

Your office equipment uses a lot of energy every year. To cut back on energy consumption and go green in the office, consider the following tips:

  • Buy refurbished ink cartridges: Refurbished or remanufactured ink cartridges cost about 15-20% less than new ones. This not only saves on the cost of buying new ink cartridges throughout the year, but it also helps eliminate wasted materials during the manufacturing process.
  • Filtered tap water: It’s been said that bottled water costs 2,000 times more than tap water. If your office stocks the refrigerator with bottled water, consider installing a water-filter or water dispenser instead. This can help reduce the amount of wasted plastic and cost associated with purchased bottled water.
  • Use Portable Air Conditioners: This is a bit more difficult in warmer areas of the country. But if you live in an area with mild summers, consider using a portable air conditioning system for your office. Traditional cooling systems can cost more than $3,000 every month for a small 1,200 square foot office space. By using a portable air conditioner to cool the most used areas on your office, you can save money and help the environment.

Host Online Seminars

Instead of hosting a class, conference, or seminar that requires attendees to travel long distances, consider hosting it online! There are many benefits of hosting your own seminars or conferences, including limiting the cost of travel and energy.

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More attendees will be able to afford the registration fees and come to your event because of the savings in travel costs, and the environment is benefited by eliminating the need for gas usage, paper, equipment, and more!

Work at Home

Here’s an idea a lot of your employees might like: Instead of having employees who live far from the office drive into work, let them work some or most days at home instead. This way, your company can save on in house office supplies, and pollution is reduced due to less commuting back and forth!

Recycling at the Office

Start a trend of recycling throughout your office. If needed, help your coworkers understand what can and cannot be recycled by posting guidelines in the kitchen or gathering areas. You can even start a recycling drive at your office. With so many everyday items used in offices you’ll want to ensure they are recycled in the best way. This includes any electronic waste as well as toner cartridge recycling. If your office becomes eco-friendly, some programs may even pay you for recycling your e-waste.

Going Green Resources

Learn more about ways you can help the environment in your personal life, as well as free guides on recycling you can use to GO GREEN today!

5 Comments

  • Christie Apr 23, 2010

    I wish more businesses would start doing these things! For some reason, “we” all still think we have to fly somewhere just to show something to someone in a remote office … and some people I know even print out their emails.

  • Ari Herzog Apr 24, 2010

    These are no-brainer ideas, but the problem is the businesses who continue to do things the old way don't have brains either. Something's not working.

  • Kristi H Apr 26, 2010

    Very true. I always find it somewhat amusing (really sad) when I hear someone complaining about the fact that printing is so expensive and they are sure that half of the people that they send mailers to end up just tossing them, but they refuse to consider getting their clients to opt-in for an email newsletter instead.

  • Kristi H Apr 26, 2010

    The invoices are so much more convenient via email – when I did freelancing, that is all I sent. People seemed to be receptive to being able to organize their billing via email versus paper mailing.

  • Kristi H Apr 26, 2010

    I like the PrimoPDF – if you're determined to save your emails outside of Outlook or whatever email program you use, you can print it in PDF and carry all of your emails in a USB drive if you choose, as oppose to having a drawer full of papers.