Greening your business isn't just good for the environment, it also makes good business sense. No matter the size of a company, it is possible to draw in customers and reduce company costs by creating a greener workplace. Over the last few years, MacLean's magazine has featured companies making green business decisions that have affected employee morale and involvement while at the same time improving their bottom line. Companies such as Canadian Tire, McDonald's Canada and Memorial University have been retrofitting buildings with energy efficient lighting, reducing water consumption and using unbleached paper. Efficient and cost effective alternatives have also made it easier for many companies to continue to be successful during times of economic turbulence.
If you are looking to green your business and create a better relationship with your customers, employees, suppliers and investors, start with these few simple first steps:
1. Use electricity wisely. Turn off all computers, printers, photocopiers, and other equipment that doesn’t need to be left on at the end of the day and leave them off until you need to use them again. When leaving a room for more than a few minutes, switch off the lights. Use compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent ones. Take advantage of natural sunlight as much as possible.
2. Reduce, reuse, recycle. This means more than just throwing old notepaper in the blue bin. Really think about everything you use. Do you need disposable cups at the water cooler? Can you use the other side of the used sheets of paper you’ve thrown in the recycle bin? Australia has added a fourth R – Refuse. Simply put: Don’t buy stuff you don’t need. And, when you do make a purchase, bring your own bags.
3. Use environmentally friendly office products. On average these products only cost 5% more, which is a small price to pay to cut down on waste and pollution. Start small – 100% recycled paper, refillable ink cartridges, non-toxic highlighters, etc.
4. Use non-toxic cleaning products. There are many brands available. Encourage your cleaning company to use green cleaning products and if they won’t, switch to one of the many companies that do use environmentally friendly products.
5. Telecommuting and transportation. Encourage working from home, particularly for workers who would normally drive to work. This cuts down on pollution and increases time availability. Help arrange carpooling and encourage use of public transportation, biking, or walking to work.
6. Aim for a paperless office. Though the paperless office may still seem unrealistic, at least try to cut down on printed material when possible. Read on-screen and only print documents when absolutely necessary. Use only 100% recycled content paper products in the office.
7. Fair trade & organic. Buy fair trade, organic coffee and teas for the office. If employees prefer to go out for their hot beverages, encourage them to take their own mugs.
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