With more and more people committed to helping the environment, it’s no surprise that small businesses are looking for ways to “go green.” Not only can it help fulfill a personal commitment, but it also communicates your values to your customers, your partners, and your team members. So what are some of the things you can do to make your office greener? Hint: it’s about a lot more than just recycled paper.
For many, the concept of “green” is ambiguous—what exactly does it mean for a product to be green? There are many attributes that can make a product better for the environment. It does not just have to be something purely designed for the environment; there are lots of little things that might not fit into the “green” stereotype but that actually can have an impact, especially when you have a lot of people making a lot of decisions that all add up to helping the environment. Products that can help make your business greener tend to fall into one or more of three basic categories: reducing waste and resources; reducing energy; and reducing chemicals.
Reducing Waste and Resources
Green products that reduce waste and resources are often the ones that come to mind first. This is a large category with many options for businesses looking for specific steps to take to help the environment. Right off the bat, we all think of recycled products. You might use products manufactured using recycled paper, aluminum, glass, plastic, or other materials. But an overlooked green product might be the recycling bins, bags, and boxes that encourage you and those around you to recycle more every day. Using recycled materials is just one side of the coin; don’t forget to recycle your own materials, too.
Also fitting into the category of reducing waste and resources are products that are reusable. Instead of buying disposable, one-off ink cartridges for your printer, you might buy refillable cartridges and then refills whenever needed. Rechargeable batteries fit into this category (along with the chargers enabling you to keep using them). And don’t forget about rewritable products in our digital age. Flash drives and rewritable CDs and DVDs can reduce the use of paper—and of single-use, read-only electronic storage options, too.
Another way to make your business greener is buying products that reduce energy usage. Broadly speaking, there are two ways to do this. First is by using products that simply use less energy than their alternatives to do the same job. A simple rule of thumb is to look for electronics and lights that have earned the Energy Star. Energy Star is an international standard for energy efficient products, run by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. To meet the standard, products must meet high efficiency standards. Depending on the type of product, an Energy Star-approved purchase can reduce energy usage by 20, 30, or even as much as 75 percent. Another option for reducing energy is using products that run on renewable energy. That might mean something using solar power, or even run by manual cranking.