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10 Tips to Go Green this Earth Day

A person admires a landscape on Earth Day

With Earth Day fast approaching, now is a fitting time for every organization to determine how large its carbon footprint is and to initiate efforts that will see it shrink. Still, despite the awareness Earth Day brings with it, many organizations will skip the opportunity to become a green business for a variety of reasons, ranging from being too busy to complacency to concerns about cost. Such organizations, however, ignore their environmental impact at their own risk. In addition to being inherently virtuous, the move to go green can in fact boost your business’ bottom line in a variety of ways.

First, it improves customer and employee relations. Studies show that people are more likely to buy from and do business with organizations that can show they’re environmentally friendly. That means that when you go green, you’re more likely to attract and retain talent because employees are increasingly more interested in working for organizations that share their philosophical and political leanings.

Second, when you go green, you save money. While some environmental initiatives can be costly, such as buying certain “green” products and relying on wind and solar energy, much of what organizations can do on a day-to-day basis is less radical and, in fact, cost-effective. There are also tax benefits for you when you go green, and the more proactive you are about becoming environmentally friendly now, the more you’ll save on becoming compliant as new environmental regulations arise.

So, how do you become a green business? Here are our top 10 tips that any organization can follow to reduce their carbon footprint and reap the bottom-line benefits that come with it:

  1. Print less

    Paper costs money, as does the ink/toner and the energy you use to print on it. Whenever possible, avoid printing. These days, there’s little reason to print anyway. In fact, properly organizing your files digitally will make it easier for you to find what you need when you need it – easier than sifting through even the most meticulously organized filing cabinet. Most organizations actually don’t know how much they spend on printing, but some argue that it is the third-highest cost behind rent and compensation. That said, it may be worth setting your printer to print double-sided.

  2. Recycle paper

    According to Office Depot, only 50% of paper is recycled in North America. This statistic could and should be much higher. After all, recycling more paper means less stress on natural resources, which in turn helps keep prices low.

  3. Recycle ink and toner cartridges

    Some suppliers will actually give you money back when you recycle your ink and toner cartridges with them. Recycling these items also means that there will be more of them out there to be refilled and bought back at significantly lower prices than new ones.

  4. Recycle broken or obsolete technology

    Far too many computers, phones, and other devices end up in landfills when they could easily be recycled. While recycling old technology doesn’t necessarily impact your balance sheet, it’s still part of a responsible, comprehensive strategy that, if well-communicated, will improve your PR both internally and externally – and the financial benefits of that should not be underestimated.

  5. Power down

    If you’re not using it, turn it off. It’s common sense to turn off the lights when leaving a room (or leave them off altogether if there’s enough sunlight getting in), and it’s common policy in many offices that devices be turned off at the end of each workday. But people can be forgetful, which means that no matter how many signs you put up or email reminders you send, many lights, computers, monitors, and other electronic devices needlessly waste hours of energy and run up your electric bill. To compensate for human error, consider installing timers, motion sensors, or power strips equipped with energy-saving features, such as the ability to detect and turn off devices that go into standby mode. A whopping 75% of the power these devices use can be consumed during the hours they’re on standby.

  6. Regulate your HVAC

    If possible, install an automated heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system so you can better regulate how much you’re heating/cooling the office. Not only will you save money, but your employees will be more comfortable on a day-to-day basis, which can improve their productivity.

  7. Use CFLs or LED lights

    Chances are your office already uses fluorescent lamps to save on energy. However, if you have any incandescent lights, consider replacing them with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or LED lights. While both of these alternatives cost more than your run-of-the-mill light bulb, they last significantly longer and use far less energy. For instance, a 60-watt incandescent bulb costs a little over a dollar, and lasts about 1,200 hours. But a CFL gives off the same amount of light using just 14 watts, costs about $4, and lasts around 8,000 hours. Even more efficient, an LED bulb gives off the same light using just 10 watts and lasts a whopping 50,000 hours. They’re on the pricier side, though, costing around $40 each.

  8. Let employees work from home occasionally

    Many employers think letting employees work from home can be a slippery slope to serious productivity problems. However, so long as it’s monitored and made clear that working from home is a privilege, not a right, this practice leads to fewer cars on the road and less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Many employees would relish the chance to telecommute once every week or two, and tying that to an environmental policy can only boost your employee relations.

  9. Encourage carpooling and public transit

    Letting your employees work from home isn’t the only way commuting can factor into reducing your carbon footprint. Encourage your employees to carpool, even start one yourself if possible. Promote public transit, too, by communicating the options available in various residential areas surrounding your place of work. Link your message to your organization’s environmental goals, but also hit home by including a cost-savings analysis that shows your employees how much of their own money they would save on gas.

  10. Cut down on travel

    Travel, whether by car or plane, is expensive enough as it is due to fuel price increases. That alone has businesses cutting back. Helping the environment, of course, is another good reason. However, if company cars and other vehicles are an essential part of your business, look into replacing them with hybrids as the long-term savings are well worth it. For all other situations, such as faraway meetings and seminars, consider internet-based teleconferencing instead.

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