As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to find ways to reduce your business’ environmental footprint. Not only is it just the right thing to do, but it’s also what your customers expect of you. In fact, today’s consumer is growing increasingly eco-conscious, and just recently, 72% of consumers said brands should be more environmentally responsible.
Now, you might be saying, “My company doesn’t do anything to harm the environment. We don’t even manufacture products, we just work out of the office!” Well, I’ve got news for you. There are several steps you can take right now to go green in your office and thus make your company more eco-conscious.
Here are just some of the simple changes you can make to make your office more environmentally friendly.
- Use eco-friendly printer paper—Post-consumer recycled content paper looks just as good as new paper, but it’s made using recycled content. This helps reduce waste, and it’s one of the easiest ways you can go green at your office.
- Buy remanufactured toner—Remanufactured toner for your printer costs less and makes a significant environmental difference. A single returned toner cartridge keeps over 2 pounds of metal and plastic out of landfills while also saving oil.
- Only print when necessary—Think before you print. Every time you’re about to print something, ask yourself if it’s really necessary. Could you just share the document digitally? Do you really need to store a physical copy of it or could you just save it on a flash drive?
- Use Energy Star qualified electronics—Are the various machines in your office eco-friendly? When buying computers, printers, and other electronics, look for ones that are Energy Star qualified. These electronics will use much less electricity, and thus, you’ll save a whole lot of money over the long haul.
- Swap old lights out—Lighting accounts for about 1/3 of the energy usage in the typical office. One easy way to reduce your energy consumption is to switch out old incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights which use a fraction of the energy and last much longer.
- Take advantage of power strips to save energy—Did you know that up to 75% of the energy used to power your office equipment could be consumed when the products are actually turned off? It’s true. Even when your electronics are turned off, they’re still sucking energy if plugged in. By using a power strip that can be shut off at the end of each day, you’ll avoid this huge waste of energy.
- Recycle various materials around your office—Does your office have a good recycling policy? Do you recycle your paper? What about your empty ink and toner cartridges? How about bottles of water and cans of soda? And don’t forget about computers, cell phones, and other old electronics. Don’t discard; recycle!
- Use multi-purpose office machines—The more machines you buy, the bigger your footprint will be. Rather than buying a separate printer, fax, copier, and scanner, but a multi-purpose machine that does all of these things. You’ll use less energy, and you won’t spend as much money on manufactured products.
- Set the temperature with a programmable thermostat—If you aren’t programming your thermostat, you could be wasting hundreds of dollars every single year. Do you really need your AC or heater running during the hours no one is at the office? And when you’re in the office, is your thermostat set at a temperature that’s comfortable enough but that also saves energy? A programmable thermostat could help you cut your energy costs every day.
- Consider letting employees telecommute—Every day that your employees commute to the office, they’re wasting gas and adding to the pollution problem. By letting your employees telecommute, you can easily reduce the pollution caused by their commutes, and you could even downsize your office space, saving even more energy. According to Living Green Magazine, an estimated 40 percent of jobs currently held by American employees could be done from home. If you’re resistant to the idea of a mobile workforce, perhaps test it out by letting certain employees work from home maybe one day a week. If things work out, then you could expand your telecommuting program.
These are just 10 easy ways you could make your office a little more green. What are some of the things your business is doing to make a positive difference in the environment?
Sandra Richardson is an advocate for environmental responsibility. She works with businesses to help them find easy, effective ways to go green.