The public has spoken: More people than ever prefer to do business with companies who keep the environment in mind. Fortunately, many young entrepreneurs agree. Since nearly everyone understands the value of going green, how can business leaders make sure their new venture is eco-friendly?
Running a business while keeping the environment in mind doesn’t happen automatically. It takes a variety of steps and means incorporating green practices into everyday company choices and practices. Here’s how to make your brand soar as an industry leader with a solid environmental strategy starting from your business plan on forward.
1. Eliminate Lengthy Commutes
This isn’t 1919 — it’s 2019 — and most people are as connected via technology at home as they are at work. Before declaring that all employees commute to the office for the 8-to-5 grind, reconsider whether it’s necessary for all workers to do so every day.
Obviously, those in the restaurant and retail sector need on-site employees. But these days, even some in the health care industry work remotely at least part of the time, as do many teachers, bookkeepers and call center representatives. Strive to allow for remote work as much as possible.
Why? This not only helps the planet by slashing vehicle emissions caused by commuting — it benefits your bottom line. Most office space rents by the square-foot, so fewer daily in-person workers mean needing less space equaling lower rent payments. You also save a ton in supply costs. There’s no need to buy 30 desks for each staff member when only five or six come in most days per week.
2. Kick the Can
Ah, the ubiquitous vending machine, that lovely 3 p.m. pick-me-up device laden with Funyuns and Fresca. Most every office building has at least one pop dispenser on site, but how many have recycling bins available for the empty cans? While I had a bit of trouble locating precise statistic, I know from personal experience from the last five offices I worked in that if I didn’t provide the bins and run the cans to the center weekly, those cans ended up in the trash.
Terrible, huh? And it’s not just pop cans filling landfills and oceans. The amount of Keurig cups offices go through could circle the globe multiple times, and while today’s cups are made from recycled materials, few office workers properly break down the cup components prior to hitting the bins.
Stick with regular drip coffeemakers. Harness the skills of that former barista on your team to brew the office pot. Invest in a can crusher and a bin for pop cans — as an added plus, a hand-operated can crusher serves as a great stress reliever on tough days!
3. Utilize Recycled Materials
Starting out green makes incorporating other environmentally friendly practices easier. Also, when you’re a business owner, your choice of what suppliers and manufacturers you purchase parts from further bolsters your business as one which cares about protecting our planet.
Partnering with the right suppliers can even result in more revenue. Nearly 73 percent of millennials say that they prefer to patronize sustainable businesses. Your green reputation will indeed proceed you and draw more up-and-coming young adults to your company’s doorstep.
4. Clean Green
Office cleaning products have a notorious yet deserved reputation for leaving those of us with allergies sneezing and even breaking out in hives. Toss chemical cleaners and contract with an office cleaning team that uses all-natural cleaners made from vinegar, baking soda and clear dish soap.
Even if your office uses green cleaning products, other offices in the same building may not. And fumes can drift through cracks and air ducts. Improve the indoor air quality of your workplace by adding numerous houseplants.
5. Save a Tree
The average office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of paper per year. Depending on the size of your organization, that’s a lot of trees! And many offices fail to recycle the paper they use.
Consider making your office as close to paperless as possible by utilizing secure cloud storage to handle documents several team members collaborate upon and secure backup servers to ensure copies of important docs are available in a few keystrokes. Whenever possible, communicate through email, chat and phone rather than sending paper memos.
6. Be Thrifty
Remember going to grandma’s house and having to search through multiple “butter” containers until you actually found the one holding your sandwich spread of choice? The generation who lived through the Great Depression learned to reuse what they had when money for new items grew scarce.
Take a hint from their practices. Re-purpose boxes from reams of paper and use them to hold other items, or even use them as recycle bins. Save packing materials like egg crates to protect future fragile objects from damage during shipment. If you haven’t already established a supply closet protocol, limit keys to only a few designated employees to decrease shrink (we’ve all worked with that one person who treats the office supply closet like their own personal shopping center where every item is marked as “free”).
Green Business Plans Lead to Success and Profit
Business plans designed with sustainability in mind save employers money by reducing overhead costs. Additionally, such plans build repeat customer loyalty, as more and more consumers opt to do business with companies who take concrete measures to protect the planet. Green business plans lead to a more successful, safe and beautiful world.