Use these green business ideas to start operating your company in a more sustainable way.
By Michelle LaBrosse and Erica Edmond
For decades, saving the environment and contributing to a sustainable world were merely good ideas for businesses to think about. Sustainability was viewed either as too big a task for one individual to take on or a seemingly time-consuming activity that would cut into business profits.
When the economy started to shake people’s worlds, many businesses made the decision to operate more resourcefully. Outrageous gas prices, a tough job market, skyrocketing health-care costs and the like forced companies into finding ways to save money—and the environment.
While the task of changing your company’s environmental impact seems enormous, a well-organized project plan can break your goal down into doable and realistic parts. There are many ways to kick-start a green initiative at your place of business and encourage your company to operate in an eco-friendly and sustainable way. Use this green-business checklist to get your company started:
Corporate and Social Responsibility
Do you invest in environmentally conscious companies?
Use your investment portfolio to support only businesses or industries that operate in an environmentally conscious or sustainable way.
Have you set up a “Green Team” in your company?
By getting your employees involved in the sustainability process, they will feel valued and value the green efforts of the company, as well.
Have you created a wildlife area around your office?
Even if you only have a concrete courtyard, you can create a wildlife area by growing native plants and flowers in pots. This will benefit your local environment and will be easier on the eyes than sterile office surroundings.
Energy, Water and Heat
Do you make use of natural light by keeping windows and skylights clean and clear?
Don’t turn lights on in the middle of the day if you have sufficient natural light coming into your office.
Do you regularly check and fix leaking faucets?
In the long term, a leaking faucet can waste a significant amount of water. Post a number near sinks that employees can call to get a leaking faucet fixed right away.
Does office furniture block radiators?
Energy will be wasted if furniture blocks air flow.
Do you have a green IT infrastructure?
The more than 1.1 billion computers worldwide produce 1 ton of carbon dioxide per year when not turned off. Also, according to the United Nations Environment Program, outdated computer equipment, mobile phones and electronics (also known as e-waste) make up roughly 2 percent of the world's garbage.
Do you have a collection point for aluminum, glass or plastic to be recycled?
Bins provided throughout the business office will encourage recycling.
Do you have a printer that can print on both sides?
If you don’t have a printer that can print on both sides of paper, consider purchasing one to reduce paper waste.
Have you invested in suitable technology for conference calls?
Rather than traveling for meetings, investigate alternatives such as using iChat or Skype for meetings that require face time.
Taking what you need or making use of what you have is an easy way to begin your journey in creating a greener business. Outline your vision for company to become more resourceful with materials and institute environmentally friendly practices. Take small steps toward creating a sustainably operated company. Each step will benefit the generations that follow us.
About the Authors: Michelle LaBrosse, founder of Cheetah Power, was recognized by the Project Management Institute as one of the top 25 most influential women in project management worldwide. Erica Edmond, an intern with Cheetah’s Green Team, studies organizational communication at the University of Portland.
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