16 Ways Businesses Can Go Green
Go-green initiatives for companies are beneficial for many reasons. They're helpful for the environment and can be profitable for your business. Many ways for companies to go green can reduce operating costs, decreasing your overhead expenses more than you might expect. Going green also improves a company's reputation and inspires more loyal customers. There are plenty of reasons to initiate environmental efforts. Learn how to make your organization more environmentally sustainable — and how those efforts will have positive returns.
Read the full article or skip to a specific section:
- Advantages of Going Green for Business
- What Can Companies Do To Go Green?
- 1. Use Less Paper
- 2. Limit Vampire Power
- 3. Decorate With Plants Inside and Outside
- 4. Use Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
- 5. Turn off the Lights
- 6. Recycle More
- 7. Donate Items
- 8. Cut Back on Single-Use Items
- 9. Replace Everyday Products With Green Alternatives
- 10. Create Go-Green Activities for Employees
- 11. Host a Green-Cause Event
- 12. Allow Remote Work
- 13. Use Alternative Energy
- 14. Improve Your Packaging
- 15. Support Green Suppliers
- 16. Install Solar Panel Covered Parking Structures
- Get Started with Environmental Initiatives
Advantages of Going Green for Businesses
Going green has many advantages, some of which you might tend to overlook. Of course, implementing green strategies for businesses benefits the planet, decreasing waste and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable practices lead to cleaner, safer communities worldwide. Not only are they ideal, but they also contribute to the longevity of the planet. Extending these efforts can also serve your business in several ways. Here are some of the primary benefits of going green for a business.
Several sustainable strategies protect your bottom line. You can save money on supplies by limiting single-use purchases, decrease your monthly bills by reducing your energy consumption and save on operating costs by implementing remote work options. Despite initial investments, environmental efforts can save your business a lot of money long-term.
Earning Tax Credits and Deductions
Governments have issued economic incentives for environmental efforts, including tax credits and deductions. Donations, lowered emissions, alternative energy usage, and other green initiatives allow for tax write-offs. You may end up paying less in annual taxes by keeping track of your environmental efforts. In this way, sustainability can become measurable savings. Take advantage of economic incentives in local and federal policies.
Winning a Favorable Reputation
You can elevate your business's image by implementing green strategies. Consumers and employees understand the need for sustainability and vote with their dollars to support it. An increasing number of consumers seek out environmental companies. Reputation matters and creating positive associations can have tangible impacts. You'll win over new customers and improve customer loyalty when you can advertise eco-friendly initiatives. In addition, your business may appear to be a more desirable employer, attracting more applicants for your team. Committing to sustainability is an excellent way to cultivate a positive business reputation.
Increasing Brand Recognition
Many environmental initiatives are also marketing opportunities. When you put your logo on reusable gifts or sponsor fundraising events, you increase brand recognition in your community. Consumers will have positive associations with your brand name and image, which may influence their purchasing decisions in the future. Being memorable and recognizable is crucial for businesses of all sizes.
What Can Companies Do to Go Green?
At this point, you might be wondering how to make your business more environmentally sustainable. Simple changes to your everyday operations can make a huge difference. Some changes are simpler than others — all have unmistakable positive impacts. It's less expensive and less challenging to go green than you might assume. Here are some ways to make your company greener.
1. Use Less Paper
Minimizing paper use is one idea for how companies can be more eco-friendly. You might think of modern business as a "paperless" world, but paper and paperboard still make up about 23% of municipal solid waste. Reducing the amount of paper your business uses can have a significant environmental impact. Not to mention, you'll save the money you would have spent on restocking paper products. Try using electronic files and cloud storage for documents. Digitizing files is a more secure, safe way to store information. When you need to use paper, commit to printing on both sides.
2. Limit Vampire Power
A phenomenon called "vampire power" might be bleeding your business' money. Many modern electronics have standby settings when not in use, during which they continue consuming energy. Simple fixes can limit waste. Use power strips and flip them off when devices aren't in use to eliminate the standby effect. Skip screensavers and unplug device chargers when not in use.
3. Decorate With Plants Inside and Outside
Consider adding plants to your office's interior and exterior. Landscaping and decorating with plants have many benefits. Plants beautify a space, which can improve morale in and of itself. Green is a calming color and seeing it can help relieve stress. You can create a more peaceful and productive environment by adding plants.
You could also impress potential clients or partners — thoughtful landscaping and decoration help create a positive first impression. What's more, plants contribute to cleaner air quality, promoting a healthier office and reducing sick leave. Decorate your outdoor and indoor spaces with greenery. You might invest in a professional landscaping or interior decorating service for stunning results. On the other hand, you could use this as a team-building opportunity, allowing your employees to plan and create a garden as an independent project. Either way, you'll have a positive environmental impact.
4. Use Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
One of the simplest ways for your company to go green is to replace the lightbulbs. Light-emitting diodes and compact fluorescent lamps use 25 to 80% less energy and last three to 35 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Switching your light bulbs is a quick way to benefit the planet while also reducing your energy bills. You'll spend less on energy and have to replace bulbs much less often.
5. Turn off the Lights
Efficient light use is another way to make your company green. Only use as much artificial light as necessary. Many offices leave lights on in unoccupied spaces, which is a drain on your finances and wasteful energy use. Instead, turn off the lights in an unoccupied space. Think about installing motion sensors that automatically shut off lights when no one is in the room. That way, no one is responsible for remembering to flip the switches off.
It is also a good idea to rely more on natural light, which has numerous health benefits. It boosts the body's vitamin D production, leads to healthier eyes, helps you sleep, and improves your mood. A little sunlight can make for a happier, healthier, and more productive working environment. If you only have thin slats for windows, think about making architectural changes to your building.
6. Recycle More
If you have yet to do so, place recycling bins throughout your office space. Make recycling as accessible and easy as possible, so recyclable items always make it to the right places. Encourage employees to recycle whenever they can. Research local ordinances to determine which objects are reusable. Rather than piling more junk onto landfills, recycle as much as you can. You can contribute to the reusing cycle even more by buying recycled products. Whenever you can, seek secondhand products or ones made from recycled material.
7. Donate Items
Another crucial way to reduce waste is to donate items. If you have any extra merchandise or supplies, see if any community aid programs, schools, churches, or charities can redistribute them. Before you toss away larger items, including electronics or furniture, ask if any local programs will take them. For instance, the local library may be interested in repurposing your old reception couch after you've bought a new one. You'll reduce waste and improve your company's reputation in the area. Donating items you'd otherwise throw away is an excellent way to help improve your community. Not to mention, distributing items with your trademark or logo is a free advertising opportunity. Before you throw anything away, see if you can recycle or donate instead.
8. Cut Back on Single-Use Items
As of 2016, annual plastic production hit 335 million metric tons, about half of which was single-use products. Almost all plastics end up in landfills. Cutting back on single-use products, especially plastic products, is one of the most significant ways companies can go green. Think of all the things in your office someone uses once and throws away. How many of those have reusable alternatives?
You can replace several everyday items with smarter solutions. Instead of handing visitors plastic water bottles, use a water filtration system and reusable bottles or cups. Keep silverware in your office, offer your employees reusable travel mugs, place refillable soap dispensers in the restroom, and stock washable rags instead of paper towels. All of these steps have an initial cost, but will save your company money in the long run. You'll no longer have to restock single-use items, reducing your monthly expenses.
9. Replace Everyday Products With Green Alternatives
Gradually start replacing everyday products with greener options. For example, many cleaning products have more natural alternatives. They're safer for your health and better for the planet. There's no need to splurge on expensive organic cleaning products — instead, you can make them yourself. In many cases, all you need is white vinegar, baking soda, and acidic fruit to replace cleaning solutions. If a do-it-yourself approach is not an option, learn how to identify greener cleaning products by recognizing EPA-approved labels. Vague terms and "green-washed" packaging are not environmental guarantees, so it's essential to look for specific labels and certifications.
10. Create Go-Green Activities for Employees
Get your employees involved in your sustainability initiatives. Ask for employee input and set sustainability goals together. Celebrate your environmental impact as a team. Allow employees to form committees for brainstorming strategies and measuring successes. Incentivize employees using green practices at home — for instance, encourage your employees to track their home's sustainability efforts and offer milestone rewards. Even a simple leaderboard and quick recognition can go a long way toward increasing your company's environmental impact and boosting employee morale.
11. Host a Green-Cause Event
You can get your employees and the surrounding community involved by hosting events like fundraisers. Supporting a cause is an ideal way to bolster your public image while making a significant difference in the world. It can also be an effective team-building exercise, allowing employees to work together toward a benevolent common goal. Your business may choose to host a walk-a-thon, community cleanup event, or an awareness campaign.
If organizing and hosting an activity is too much of a time and resource commitment, participate in existing community events. Have a company team at eco-friendly fundraisers, set aside part of your budget for donations, or commit to sponsoring environmental events.
12. Allow Remote Work
Instituting a remote work policy can be a significant way in which companies can be more sustainable. Think of all the energy and resources that could be saved if there was no need for a physical office. Modern technology can make many office jobs remote these days — video conference calls, screen-sharing, and cloud storage mean most desk workers could do their jobs from home.
Permitting even partial remote work over time reduces your operating costs and decreases your drain on the environment. With no commute, no stops for coffee in foam cups and no drain on office electricity, employees leave a much smaller carbon footprint. Not to mention, many employees prefer working from home, reporting that they feel more productive. Incorporating telecommuting into your company culture can save you money and boost employee morale.
13. Use Alternative Energy
Consider using alternative energy whenever possible. Solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal energy sourcing have positive impacts on the environment. You need not overhaul your entire operation — instead, start incorporating renewable energy where you can. A straightforward solution is to purchase electronics that recharge using solar energy. You might also consider installing solar hail protection over your parking areas, which is an excellent way to protect vehicles while also integrating renewable energy.
14. Improve Your Packaging
If you sell products, switch to environmental packaging. Plastic packaging makes up about 5% of municipal solid waste. Consumers toss packaging out, generating millions of tons of non-biodegradable waste. If you ship your products surrounded by Styrofoam packing peanuts and plastic dividers, consider alternatives. Instead, use recyclable or biodegradable packaging materials. Specially designed packaging also improves the consumer's unboxing experience.
15. Support Green Suppliers
Evaluate your suppliers and vendors. Do they focus on sustainability? Do they recycle? Do they support green initiatives? If not, consider how supporting those businesses might impact the environment. Just as consumers vote with their dollars, your business can as well. Show your commitment to sustainability by helping other businesses meet their environmental priorities. Be mindful of the suppliers, vendors and partners you associate with your business.
16. Install Solar Panel Covered Parking Structures
Take advantage of alternative energy solutions by installing solar panel covered parking structures. These structures are ideal for large corporate parking lots or rooftop parking, and offer incredible protection for your employees and customers from hail and other severe weather - all while generating renewable energy. You may also be eligible for tax credits and other green energy incentives.
Get Started With Environmental Initiatives
These solutions for how organizations can go green have only positive impacts. Using these strategies, you can conserve resources, reduce waste, boost employee morale, create a more positive brand image and see financial savings long-term. Using these go-green ideas for companies helps your environment, your community and your business.
Interested in learning more about solar parking options for your large corporate parking or rooftop parking area? Contact VPS to learn more.