The last few years have really seen a push toward making everything “green”. Generally this means supporting efforts and organizations that help the individual offset their “carbon footprint” or the environmental impact they have on planet earth. On the business side, large companies in the past did things like installing systems to make their buildings more energy efficient or improve sustainability. What characterizes a green business is that it is run in such a way as to conserve natural resources, eliminate waste and remain ecologically in balance. So where does that leave small businesses?
Small businesses which comprise up to 97% of the businesses across the United States (Source: SBA) have been kind of left out because it requires large investments that are not really feasible. In support of “Green Week” here at Technosailor, we have taken a look at different ways small businesses, even a one-person shop, can “be green” while not negatively impacting their bottom line. We have come up with five simple things that businesses can do to “Be Green”.
Promote Telework at least one day a week
During these hot summer days, running the A/C in many offices is extremely expensive because of rising fuel prices. As winter will be fast approaching, heating bills will be going up which means you might have to raise prices or not hire someone because you can’t afford it. Keeping the power off and having everyone telework from home or a coffee house at least one day a week can really cut down on the impact employees have on overhead costs. If you are a small firm you are probably utilizing services (e.g. web conferencing, VPN, VoIP) that make everything virtual, so having people work remotely might not be a far stretch.
While many offices still need to have people in the office for meetings, smarter scheduling can still keep the “Water Cooler” environment that all business need in some way. A good way to start is to have it come from the top down as a mandate that Monday or Friday as work remotely day. Tell everyone that power and AC/Heating will be shut off that day so that they know if they come into the office it isn’t going to be a comfortable ice box with everyone around. As more people get into the routine you will be surprised how fast you could take this to two or three days a week and really keep energy costs low.
Offer mass transit voucher/reimbursement program
Living here in the DC area there is a pretty good mass transit system with the Metro. They have a program called SmartBenefits where you can actually load their Metro Cards with a certain dollar value. This can also be done as a pre-tax benefit and you could reimburse the employee because they have the incentive to use mass transit instead of their car.
Offer incentives to be eco-friendly even outside of their job
Now metro and buses are not everywhere and not everyone lives right near easy access mass transit, so people must use their car. In this case, many companies have begun to offer a subsidy for using a hyrid vehicle. For example, Livingston Communications CEO, Geoff Livingston offers his employees a $1000 subsidy toward buying a hybrid vehicle.
Recycle Office Equipment
If you have operated your business for any length of time you probably have office equipment that is collecting dust and if simply thrown away would hurt the environment. There is a great site, called UsedComputer.com, that has all the resources on where to take your electronics. Officefurniture.org has a list of resources on what to do with old printer toner and office furniture that can found here.
This is the way to support other businesses that are going green and in a way motivates others if it becomes a preference by many companies as part of their vendor selection process. SmallBizTrends.com refers to two studies done on the impact of whether people care to “Buy Green”. They found:
A recent survey by Landor Associates suggests that the majority (58%) of consumers do not care whether a business is green. According to the survey, that still leaves 42% who are interested to some degree in the environment.
Another set of market research “” more extensive “” was done by the Natural Marketing Institute for LOHAS. LOHAS stands for consumers with Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. The LOHAS research found that 23% of the U.S. adult population is “œclassified as a LOHAS consumer, meaning that they have a profound sense of environmental and social responsibility.” These are the people most likely to buy green products.
Twenty-three percent of the U.S. adult population is no shabby number “” it exceeds 50 million people. So obviously a decent-sized market exists.
Good examples of this are buying biodegradable office supplies or looking for companies that incorporate green behavior as a part of their production/manufacturing process.