Everyone and every business wants to present itself as “green.” Being environmentally conscious is important, but there’s a big difference between “greenwashing” your business – placing more emphasis on looking the part than taking actual steps – and adopting practices that actually make a difference.
Increase the environmental friendliness of your business
Increasing your business’s energy efficiency, whether an office-based business or a manufacturing operation, saves on utility costs. Reusing existing materials in creative ways can mean fewer dollars spent on new raw materials. Using bio-fuels for your transportation needs can reduce tailpipe pollution and is becoming more cost-competitive with petroleum fuels almost day by day.
Of course, a prudent business person will perform a cost-benefit analysis before retrofitting or replacing existing equipment, especially if it has not yet reached the end of its useful life, but don’t forget to include the value of the enhancements to your business’s reputation by making green choices.
According to a Nielsen survey of some 30,000 customers, 42 percent agreed they would pay more for products that came from sustainable sources, and businesses that promote their environmental awareness could also see a halo effect as consumers choose to do business with such firms.
Going green not only fosters positive feelings from customers; employees also often feel better working for green businesses, especially when they’re involved in company-wide green initiatives. It may be hard to quantify, but there’s intrinsic value to improved staff morale.
Take specific steps to help the environment
Look around your business (and encourage employees to look around their homes). Report or fix leaky faucets. According to the EPA, a leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, or more than the water needed for 180 showers.
Put recycling bins at or near every desk and encourage their use. Purchase paper products with at least 35 percent post-consumer content. Use the back side of paper for scratch paper before it is put in the recycling bin.
In your company kitchen, use washable cups, flatware and plates instead of disposable dinnerware. If you don’t already have washable kitchenware, look for products made with recycled material.
If you use a landscape company or lawn service, look for those that use electric equipment rather than gas.
Consider using online conference calls when practical instead of spending the energy (and time) to attend in-person meetings.
Encourage employees who use their car for lunch to park and go inside rather than idling in a drive-thru. To save even more fuel, encourage them to telecommute one day a week. If your business has the means, consider offering an incentive to employees who rides their bikes to work, use public transportation or purchase an energy-efficient vehicle.
The financial benefits to going green can extend well beyond the dollars saved through energy efficiency or the additional dollars earned by appealing to environmentally conscious customers. Grants and funding may be available to help further establish green businesses. Organizations such as The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and the U.S. Department of Energy offer financial assistance in the form of grants and loans to small businesses and farms. Such programs provide money for individuals looking to start a green business, existing green businesses and business that are taking the necessary steps to go green.
For more information on greening your business, contact the Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County. Conveniently located in Camarillo, California, we’re here to help.
Source: SBA.gov; Scientific American