Being Green is Both Easy and Cost-Effective
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Q: It seems everyone is talking nowadays about being “green”. Other than recycling, what are some practical steps I can take to make my business more environmentally friendly?
A: If you’re a child of the ‘70’s or a fan of The Muppets, you may have heard a song by Kermit the Frog where he laments that “it’s not easy bein’ green”. We beg to differ and would like to add that it’s not only easy – it can be very cost-effective for your business. With climate change and diminishing resources dominating the news, small business owners are looking for ways to make their operations more environmentally friendly. Simple steps such as recycling soda cans and turning off lights are a good place to start, but there are many other ways you can make a big difference without a lot of effort and expense. What’s more, these measures will benefit both the environment and your bottom line.
Take energy use, for example. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, cutting energy waste can typically save small businesses as much money and prevent as much pollution, per square foot, as large organizations—including those in leased space. Performed properly, business-specific energy efficiency upgrades can provide a positive cash flow right from the beginning. Energy Star offers financial evaluation tools to help you estimate the impact of your changes.
Some “sure energy savers” include replacing incandescent light bulbs with Energy Star-qualified commercial LED lighting and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which cost about 75 percent less to operate, and last about 10 times longer. Regularly changing heating and air conditioning filters and investing in regular “tune-ups” will also keep the system operating as efficiently as possible.
Making greater use of email and electronic file transfers are sure to cut down on the amount of paper your business uses. If your business relies on incoming or outgoing faxes, computer-based faxing or online faxing enables you to exchange these documents without the need for making printed copies.
There are likely more recyclable items around your office than you realize. Your municipal solid waste department can provide information on materials and recycling procedures. Another good source is the Telecommunications Industry Association’s e-Cycling Central website, which provides information on finding local agencies and organizations that will recycle computers, printers and other electronics. And, many charities accept unwanted office furniture for repair and reuse by other businesses, organizations, schools, and charities.
Purchasing products and equipment made from recycled or sustainable materials is also a good way for small businesses to do right by Mother Earth. According to GreenBiz.com, recycled-content products typically perform as well or better than virgin products and often are competitively priced. And when it’s time to upgrade computers or appliances, purchasing Energy Star-qualified products will ensure that you’re getting the most from every kilowatt of power.
For more guidance on cost-effective environmental practices, access SCORE’s Green Business Toolkit or contact a SCORE mentor today for customized advice. SCORE is a nonprofit organization of more than 13,000 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops nationwide. For more information, visit www.score.org.