Move Your Small Business toward Environmental Friendliness

The prospect of your small business going green can be daunting. For example, you may envision solar panels, paper bans and vegetable gardens out back. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with these ideas. The idea of growing your own corn and potatoes for lunch at work does hold a certain appeal. However, it’s best to move your company toward environmental friendliness starting with small steps rather than cannonballing into it.

Here are some simple but effective ideas to kick off your company going green. Pick and choose as you like.

  • Offer incentives for employees to walk, bike, carpool or take public transportation
  • Open new offices, branches or locations in areas designed for environmentally friendly commutes
  • Donate your appliances, furniture, computers and electronics and the like to Habitat for Humanity, schools and charities instead of sending them to the landfill
  • Purchase used furniture instead of new pieces
  • Develop a policy that lets employees telecommute from home when feasible
  • Ask employees to turn off lights in vacant offices, or install timers and motion sensors
  • Use Energy-star-rated lightbulbs and fixtures
  • Purchase refillable water bottles and reusable cups for employees (to cut down on single-use products)
  • Use video conferencing, cloud computing and other systems to cut down on business travel and paper usage
  • Purchase energy-efficient appliances when it comes time to replace refrigerators, microwaves and the like
  • Contract with “green” caterers for events
  • Choose an environmental cause to champion for a fundraiser
  • Give rewards such as gift certificates to local sporting goods stores
  • Look for green 401(k) options when revisiting your retirement plans

Of course, employee buy-in is critical, and it’s necessary to explain the rationale behind any moves you make. For instance, if you send an email saying, “We need to start turning lights off in rooms we’re not using,” with no further explanation, then that could make the business sound miserly or even like it’s in financial trouble.

Choose a handful of simple “green” ideas to start with, and roll them out to employees. You increase the chances of employees participating enthusiastically if they have a say in choosing the approaches that the company starts with (via a committee, for example).

As your new practices gain momentum, build onto them where possible and tout your progress on your website and in recruiting materials. An environmentally friendly company is hard to resist!

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