Small businesses are quicker and more nimble than larger corporations, and we can use this advantage to make better, "greener" decisions. A small business owner's flexibility and decision-making power provide a great opportunity to become more environmentally conscious. In fact, there are decisions we can make right now that will help the environment. Here are a few ideas worth considering.
The Daily Green, a consumer's guide to green from GoodHousekeeping.com, says that paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste. If the United States cut office paper use by just 10% it would prevent the emission of 1.6 million tons of greenhouse gasses. And that's just paper; consider the production and disposal of ink cartridges and the energy used by printers.
Going paperless, or "paper-limited" is achievable by many small businesses with the use of technology. We all have access to the tools we need to transition our overflowing file cabinets into an organized digital file system. And, not only is it an environmentally conscious decision, it can also save you money in the long-run.
Do More Online
There are ways to use the Internet to limit your business footprint, even if you have a brick-and-mortar business. Online marketing is one of the biggest ways to leverage the Internet in an environmentally conscious way. Consider launching an email marketing campaign in place of a hard copy postcard mailing. Or explore all of the ways social media can help you promote your business quickly and more efficiently than traditional advertising methods.
You can even transition your invoicing processes to online payment systems that will not only limit paper waste but can also help you get paid faster.
Use the Cloud
Similar to incorporating more online-focused business activities, you can also use the Cloud -- a decentralized location on the Internet that stores data, making it accessible anytime, anywhere, from any device -- to help your business become greener. You can reduce energy and required physical space by replacing on-site servers with the Cloud to backup data, share files, and make your business data accessible from anywhere, with very little environmental impact.
Make Your Office More Environmentally Friendly
When was the last time you did a "green" check in your office? Chances are, there are a number of things you can do to make your small business office more environmentally conscious. Consider these ideas:
- Use compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs
- Use an energy-saving power strip that autoswitches to conserve electricity
- Drink out of reusable water bottles or coffee mugs instead of throwaways
- Recycle paper, ink cartridges, cans, bottles, etc.
- Use chlorine-free post-consumer recycled paper
- Decorate with live plants to improve the air quality
- Use energy settings on laptops and monitors
Start a Green Business
If you're just thinking about starting a business, consider starting a green business that has a goal of helping the environment. There are many different types of environmentally conscious businesses you can start, from composting to gardening to green cleaning, that can make your love of the earth not only positive but also profitable.
Some of these ideas for going green in your small business may take a little getting used to. Start with one idea and be consistent. Before you know it, you will form new habits that honor and support the environment. Plus, many of these ideas are also very cost-effective, so you can be improving your bottom line in the process. Going green is a win-win for small business.