The numbers are in: Consumers are demanding environmental action from brands. Many entrepreneurs balk at going green, fearing the costs involved. It might be surprising, but becoming more sustainable doesn’t mean breaking the bank. A few simple steps can ensure that your organization becomes an environmental leader. Here are six ways your company can go green.
1. Go as Paperless as Possible
Offices are slowly going digital, and that might be a good thing. Even though digital tools consume copious energy, they minimize paper waste and create efficiency. Analytical tools used to compile business statistics and project management systems are just two of many digital options for streamlining business processes. One workaround for the increased energy required for new devices is to avail yourself of the U.S. government’s EnergyStar program. This organization serves as a nexus for finding energy-efficient appliances. Shop around for the solution that fits your budgetary needs.
2. Conduct an Energy Audit
The key to becoming more efficient is to know exactly where you’re not being efficient. It’s a good idea to have a professional energy audit performed. Money might (literally) be flying out the window if faulty insulation lets heat and cold escape. Energy audits come in several “levels” based on depth and rigorousness. Home audits cost an average of $0.08 to $0.50 per square foot. If you’re concerned about the cost of an audit, note that DIY options are available. Don’t let an easily-fixed problem go undetected.
3. Reduce Waste
Now that you know the sources of your inefficiencies, take steps to reduce them. Doing so is simpler than you might think. Lighting is a sizable source of energy (and thus fiscal) inefficiency. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) use approximately 70% less energy than incandescent bulbs to achieve the same illumination. Remind employees to turn off lights and water systems not currently in use. Allow computers to go into sleep mode when unused, and unplug disused electronics. Multiple small steps will become massive changes.
4. Consider Renewable Power
Renewable energy is the ultimate “big step” in becoming sustainable. Switching wholesale to renewable power isn’t necessary. Solar recharging stations for devices are a low-intensity beginning. Solar energy is becoming more efficient and versatile as progress in materials science makes photovoltaic cells more capable. Replacing all of your energy needs with renewables is a significant investment. However, doing so not only makes your business sustainable in an ecological sense; it makes your operations more resilient in times of crisis.
5. Minimize the Impact of Logistics
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the transportation sector accounts for the lion’s share of national greenhouse gas emissions. Allowing remote work can mitigate some of the environmental impact caused by unnecessary commutes. Switching your company fleet to electric vehicles (EVs) can be worthwhile but might be costly. A more straightforward solution is to employ a few simple hacks to maximize fuel economy in your current vehicles. Contract with companies that do the same to make an additional impact.
6. Source Inventory Ethically
A recent survey by McKinsey & Co. found that 66% of shoppers consider sustainability when purchasing. Ensuring that your inventory is procured with environmental ethics in mind is critical. Try to source your supplies locally if possible. Doing so cuts supply chain costs, supports the local community, and offers flexibility. If you do have to do business with distant sources, do so from companies that commit to fair trade.
Don’t forget that packaging materials are equally vital to sustainability. Look for green packaging solutions like algae-based printer inks, wheat straw bags, and recyclable mailers. Seek out post-consumer paper products when possible and engage in recycling practices yourself.
No two companies are the same, so no two solutions are the same. However, these strategies are proving effective for business leaders in every industry. Look at your business processes, and see how you can incorporate a greener future into your operations.