Have you ever wondered what it would take for a company to become a more sustainable business?
If your brand or organization has yet to put any environmentally friendly business practices in place, there’s no better time to start than now.
First, let’s look at what positive changes to expect when companies go green.
Then, let’s go through 35 actionable tips and tricks you can follow to help make your business more sustainable.
How Does Being Environmentally Friendly Help Businesses?
These days, customers put a premium on environmental awareness.
A recent U.S. consumer poll shows that almost half of them would change their purchasing habits to prioritize sustainably-branded products in the hopes of reducing their personal carbon footprints.
Workers are also happier when they’re working for an eco-friendly business. About 75 percent of polled small to medium enterprise (SME) employees in Britain confirm that, to them, sustainability is an important issue.
Finally, it’s common for water and energy consumption to go down when companies go green. Eco-friendly business owners can expect to pay less for company utilities.
What Environmentally Friendly Business Practices Can You Adopt in Your Workplace?
It’s easier than you think for companies to be more eco friendly.
Check out the itemized suggestions below to see how even the smallest of changes in company policies and routines can make a huge difference.
1. Monitor Workplace Energy Usage
Pay attention to how much you shell out for utilities. Look for applications and services that monitor energy usage. Some electric companies even offer these tools for free.
This helps give you an idea of how much your company needs to change to be considered eco-friendly. Without a baseline, you won’t be able to track your improvement.
2. Schedule an Energy Audit
Did you know that almost everywhere in the U.S. has utility-sponsored programs that offer energy audits for local businesses at no cost?
Your company may be tasked to repair or upgrade appliances and other equipment in accordance with auditor recommendations.
3. Assemble a Sustainability Committee
A dedicated committee can brainstorm and implement further eco-friendly rules and regulations tailored specifically for your company.
Organizing events to combine team-building with environmental efforts could also be part of the committee’s directives.
4. Remind Employees to Conserve Water and Energy
Putting up physical reminders around the office may seem like an outdated strategy, but it works.
Helpful signs, emails, and even text messages can spell the difference between leaving a faucet or light on overnight and remembering to check everything before leaving the workplace.
5. Start a Recycling Program
Many environmentally aware people already follow recycling practices in their homes. A similar program in the workplace is a great way to extend the reach of this planet-saving mindset.
While this tip may not necessarily provide economic incentives, it’s a great PR move and also bound to improve morale in the office.
6. Set up Multiple Recycling Bin Areas
When you create several points where employees can throw their trash properly, it becomes more convenient for people to recycle.
Centralized garbage cans are easier to manage, but are way less effective.
7. Switch to Recycled Paper
While some companies can go paperless, many cannot.
If your workplace is one of the latter, do the next best thing: Switch to post-consumer waste (PCW) paper and packaging.
Compared to traditional processes, manufacturing PCW paper takes 45 percent less energy and results in half the amount of waste.
8. Move to Digital Storage
This doesn’t have to be high tech. If you don’t have the means and training to go cutting edge paperless just yet, consider a simpler solution.
You can scan and store old documents digitally in hard drives. If you deal with customers or associates that must have documents they can physically hold in their hands, you may print as needed.
9. Make Printing Difficult
What’s the best way to accommodate people that demand physical copies while also following environmentally friendly business practices?
Simple: Make printing documents inconvenient.
Have your office printer connected to one computer terminal in the building and not accessible through the internet.
You’ll be surprised by how much printing requests go down.
10. Switch to Green Web Hosting
If your business has an online presence, move to green web hosting.
You may not feel the difference in your workplace, but the company’s drain on environmental resources will go down.
Many green web hosting companies offer services that cost the same as those of traditional counterparts powering servers using fossil fuels.
If you don’t know where to start, check out GreenGeeks.com. The Californian hosting provider has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a Green Power Partner since 2009.
GreenGeeks partner with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) in Portland, Oregon to have them purchase 3 times as much renewable energy as their hosting business has consumed in a year to put it back into the grid.
11. Stock Wooden Pencils and Refillable Pens
Did you know that more than four million disposable pens are thrown away daily in the U.S.?
Stock your office supply room with wooden pencils, reusable pens, and ink refills instead of contributing to this wasteful habit.
12. Buy Rechargeable Batteries
Most workplaces use batteries for a variety of items.
While chargers and reusable batteries may cost more initially, they provide long term savings and prevent your company from sending countless single-use counterparts to landfills.
13. Don’t Stock Single-Use Tableware
Filling your office pantry with reusable tableware is an environmentally friendly business practice you can implement with little effort.
Combine it with a set of washing rules to make the eco-friendly transition less of a hassle.
14. Use a Real Coffee Maker
Using a traditional coffee maker is not only more environmentally friendly, but also more affordable.
A large coffee tin can serve many more cups of coffee for a small fraction of the price of stocking your pantry with coffee pods.
Alternatively, switch to biodegradable coffee pods.
15. Clean the Office with Biodegradable Solutions
Did you know that one concentrated bottle of biodegradable window cleaner can replace over 700 bottles of a traditional glass cleaning product?
If you’re still worried that this eco-friendly business practice may drive up costs, buy it in industrial amounts. This will lower the price significantly.
Check out our article on eco-friendly cleaning products.
16. Install a Hand Dryer
Think of the number of paper towels your employees use just to dry their hands after washing.
If you buy hand dryers for office bathrooms, your workplace will use fewer paper products.
This is good for the environment and good for your bottom line.
17. Ban Bottled Water
Provide a filtration system in your pantry and encourage employees to carry reusable and refillable water bottles.
Doing so will reduce the instances of people bringing in bottled water to work.
Find some great eco-friendly water bottles in our article here.
18. Encourage Employees to Bring Packed Lunches
When employees order lunch or buy it on the way to work, they increase the amount of garbage generated by your workplace. Most food establishments pack their offerings in disposable boxes or bags.
Ask workers to bring packed lunches in reusable containers at least once a week. If this isn’t feasible, you may suggest that the office order from only one restaurant per mealtime.
19. Place Plants Indoors
Have one office plant for every 100 square feet of space. This design practice will naturally filter the air being circulated around your workplace. It will also make the office feel cozier and more inviting.
20. Use Technology to Control Energy Usage
This is as easy as using power strips for each cubicle so that every employee needs only to push one button to power off their office equipment.
You may also set all computers with an automatic sleep mode after a certain amount of time has passed.
A timer on your servers can be set to shut down everything on the same schedule every day.
21. Replace Inefficient Machines and Equipment
Did you know that energy-efficient appliances can lower utility costs by about 50 to 80 percent?
Look for Energy Star labels when buying new equipment. This is the moment to splurge!
Replacing old and energy-hogging appliances like refrigerators or dishwashers can yield long term environmental and economic savings.
22. Purchase Refurbished Electronics
A way to stretch your budget without sacrificing quality or energy-efficiency is to consider refurbished equipment.
You can save about 50 to 70 percent if you buy laptops, headphones, and other electronics that are slightly used.
In many cases, “refurbished” simply means that a piece of equipment has been taken out of its original packaging.
Consumer laws prevent manufacturers from selling these as brand new. Refurbished products are often tested extensively before being resold.
23. Participate in Electronic Recycling Programs
Electronic waste is the fastest-growing waste material stream globally. More than 48 million tons of it were produced in 2018.
Getting involved in electronic recycling programs is good for your company’s reputation!
Several states have local computer recycling programs. You may also contact companies like HP and Dell to participate in their similar initiatives.
24. Replace Old Light Fixtures
Switch to energy-saving light fixtures, such as those using LED or compact-fluorescent (CFL) bulbs.
While they may be more expensive upfront, these high-efficiency bulbs can last up to 50 times longer than traditional incandescent lighting.
25. Install Task Lighting and Motion Sensors
Complement new energy-efficient light bulbs with eco-friendly design in the form of smart task light positioning and motion sensor switches.
This is a particularly useful tip if your office occupies a sprawling space or employs many workers with different shift schedules.
26. Rely on Sunlight
Did you know that employees working near sunlit windows are typically 15 percent more productive?
Natural light aligns with the body’s internal circadian rhythms. Clever use of sunlight through design choices and architectural decisions also saves energy.
When you rely more on natural light, you spend less on artificial lighting.
27. Limit Air Conditioning and Adjust Your Thermostat
Many offices set their temperatures too low when it’s hot outside and too high when it’s cold.
Instead of depending on your air conditioning and thermostat all the time, try to open windows when you can.
You can also set air conditioning to kick in only when it gets to a certain temperature, like 74 or 75 degrees.
Depending on where you live, this small change can save you hundreds of dollars each year.
28. Take the Stairs More Often
If your office building has an elevator, you may limit its use to trips spanning two flights or more.
Not only will it reduce energy usage, but it will also promote a healthier lifestyle among your employees.
29. Use Renewable Energy
This may not be possible for every business, but it’s worth mentioning.
Some companies may have the budget to uproot and move to an eco-friendly space.
Some may remodel and include solar panels. You may also ask your electricity supplier if they offer green energy plans.
30. Buy Hybrid or Electric Company Cars
If your business is large enough to need a stable of company cars, consider buying eco-friendly vehicles.
In most cases, the upfront cost won’t be much different, and your employees won’t have to learn how to drive using an unfamiliar setup.
31. Limit Company-Wide Meetings
Does your company support several satellite offices?
If so, it’s a good and environmentally friendly business practice only to require physical and company-wide meetings when necessary.
Think about your typical meeting agendas. How much could be discussed and accomplished through video conference calls or emails?
Less in-person meetings mean less travel and less fossil fuel usage.
32. Set up an Online Workspace
There are many applications and online services that can help you manage this.
Some are productivity based. Others focus on the ease of remote communication.
An online workspace shared by all employees cuts down on the need for physical meetings and keeps everyone on the same page – whether or not they’re working from the same location.
33. Consider Telecommuting or Remote Working
Some businesses can’t survive without a brick-and-mortar office. Is yours one of them?
Telecommuting or remote working is something worth considering, both to improve your carbon footprint and to bring down overhead costs.
34. Schedule Daytime Events
How can companies be more eco-friendly without even trying?
Stage company activities and other events during the day.
Take advantage of natural lighting and outdoor areas. This will lessen the need for artificial light fixtures and carefully controlled temperatures.
35. Work with Local Businesses
Source office supplies and more locally as much as you can.
Even if other companies with warehouses further away can give you a better price, the transportation necessary to get the products into your stockrooms comes at an environmental cost.
How Else Can Companies Go Green and Transform Into Eco-Friendly Businesses?
Your company doesn’t have to be directly involved in eco-friendly industries to benefit from being an environmentally friendly business.
While the initial cost and learning curve can affect short term productivity and profits, there’s no denying that the long term advantages of becoming a more sustainable business are worth it.
Are you ready for your business to make a long term commitment to sustainability and environmental awareness? Consider overhauling your office space and turning it into an eco-friendly structure.
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