Being green on Earth Day (April 22) and every other day of the year is not only a smart way for businesses to help the environment, but it can save them money, too.
Becoming more eco-friendly can reduce office supply costs, qualify your business for tax breaks, and show customers that your business is serious about environmental issues. Here are some environmentally friendly behaviors your business can start doing today that will reap rewards down the line.
Use Less Paper
Although the preference to use paper products is decreasing thanks to technology that makes document sharing and signing much easier, paper still makes up approximately a quarter of all waste Americans throw away each year – more than any other material according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Though going paperless is not always an option, consider how your business can reduce the amount of paper you use. Consider, for example, printing on both sides of a piece of paper whenever possible and reducing paper handouts at meetings. If blank pages or pages with only a date or time stamp on the bottom are printed, reuse them for another print job.
PRO TIP: Place a recycling bin next to the printer. The easy location encourages people to subconsciously recycle instead of throwing unnecessary paper out.
Recycle Office Equipment
Buying a refurbished computer or other piece of office equipment can save money, as can reusing materials that were bought for an employee no longer with the company. Check the supply cabinet for used items before going to an equipment catalog to buy something new.
If you opt to buy new equipment, don’t just toss the old equipment in the trash. Consider donating it to a group that could still use it. The donation could provide a tax break for your small business. If a group such as Goodwill won’t take it, recycle old electronics at a certified recycling center. Not only is this good for the environment, it also ensures any information still remaining on your old equipment (like a computer) is properly removed and destroyed.
Lower Your Energy Use
According to energystar.gov, fully turning off your computer at night results in only slight energy savings. However, modern laptops and desktop computers can automatically put your computer to sleep or in standby mode when not in use, which actually saves more energy day to day than you might think. Just make sure your software is up to date! You can also positively impact energy usage for your business by turning the lights off when you leave a room (especially if it will be unused for a period of time), and when leaving work for the day.
Speaking of energy, explore renewable energy options that may be available to you as a small business. This could include solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, and biomass. You can reference mass.gov for energy rebates and incentives for small businesses.
Among Rockland Trust’s own environmental and green efforts, we’ve partnered with Solect Energy in Hopkinton, Mass., to install a 114kW solar array system on the roof of our Somerset Building.
Remember the Three R’s
Going green as a small business is really about taking small steps that can lead to reductions in waste and energy consumption – and provide big cost savings.
Remember the three R’s — reduce, reuse and recycle. Reduce your paper usage and energy consumption. Reuse your office equipment. Use recyclable materials whenever possible, and remember to recycle when possible, as well.
Embracing more sustainable practices is also beneficial for your margins. Reducing energy consumption lowers your electric bill. Same with waste. After all, waste not, want not. The planet, your employees and your customers will thank you.
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