Sustainability and eco-friendly business practices are a common topic of discussion for today's companies, but talking and doing are two different things. If your business hasn't already started using sustainable business practices, 2015 is the year you should take the initiative to "save the planet."
Here are five ways your business can act more sustainably this year.
5. Plan meetings sustainably
There are an incredible number of ways that business meetings can waste money, time, and our natural resources. Green event planning is such a buzzword these days that there are event planners who specialize in reducing the waste and energy spent on all types of business events.
According to the Sustainability Network at Johns Hopkins University:
"A green event is one that is organized with the goal of minimizing waste and promoting sustainable actions. A green event is not simply limited to recycling alone; it goes beyond that by taking a "whole systems" approach to the vast flow of resources and waste that can be generated in organizing an event."
There are several standard meeting features where you can act sustainably whether your company hosts regular meetings with members from across the country or you have simple weekly meetings with everyone at a single location.
Florida Atlantic University offers a concise list of event features where going green is important:
- Event location selection
- Event materials
- Venue features
Some of the ways you can plan sustainable meetings include using reusable cups, dishes, and silverware for meals, which is even better than using recyclable dinnerware. Further on the subject of catering, you can also design a menu that takes advantage of local, in-season foods.
The coconut water you usually get for your meetings might taste amazing, but it's probably trucked, shipped, and flown halfway across the world to reach you. Eating and drinking organically is important, but it's even more important to reduce the use of fossil fuels employed to move out-of-season food across the planet.
4. Scheduling essential maintenance
If you own your own home, you know that many systems in the house require occasional maintenance. Without new filters, general repairs, and replacements, your business could be using an extraordinary amount of energy.
Consider that the HVAC system in your company's offices must work extra hard to push air through the system when the filter is old, and the vents are clogged. Some of the systems you'll want to have inspected include:
- Roofing and gutters
- Windows, seals, & insulation
- The HVAC system (heating and cooling)
- General appliances
- Specialized machinery
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reveals:
"Your [building's] envelope - the outer walls, ceilings, windows, doors, and floors - may be letting too much air into or out of the home. Hidden gaps and cracks in a home can create as much airflow as an open window, and can cause your heating and cooling systems to work harder."
Remember: After replacements, upgrades, and maintenance have occurred remember to record the date on which the work was completed, as well as the expected dates when further maintenance or cleaning will need to be scheduled.
3. Encourage green commuting
If your business is located in an area where the weather sinks to frigid temperatures each winter, that's not a barrier to green-friendly commutes. In fact, did you know that Minneapolis is considered the number one city in the nation for bicycling despite having an average high temperature of just 24 degrees in January?
According to the official website for the government of Minneapolis:
"As of 2014, Minneapolis has 118 miles of on-street bikeways and 92 miles of off-street bikeways. The city has also been awarded with the Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community Award from the League of American Bicyclists."
If your business is located in a town of medium size, there's a good chance your employees have some options for green commuting, even if they might require some convincing as far as bicycling is concerned.
Methods your employees can use to go green for their commute include:
- Car pooling
- Public transportation
- Riding bikes
Consider: Encouraging your employees to utilize active methods for commuting to work is also healthy! Fit and healthy employees are happy employees who perform better at work and take fewer sick days.
2. Create a recycling program… for everything!
There are a few interesting words that have come out of the sustainability movement, and "upcycling" is one of them. Hopefully, your business already recycles as part of its waste removal program. Buying secondhand furniture and equipment through upcycling is another way to reduce the amount of natural resources your company uses.
For example, if your business is opening a new retail location in 2015, don't assume that everything in the new location needs to come straight from a new showroom floor. The very nature of business means that there's always someone who's closing and moving onto something different as other businesses are growing and expanding.
Check resources like Craigslist, your local newspaper, and community bulletin boards to see if you can populate your office with nearly new equipment or furniture. Don't worry, even if there are a few scratches on an item, all you need is a can of (environmentally friendly) paint and some sandpaper.
Upcycling also means using items until the bitter end, particularly when it's just a minor break or scrape that's keeping you from using a broken piece of furniture.
Business News Daily suggests:
"Don't let your old, broken furniture end up in a landfill. With basic templates and access to power tools, you can break down and reassemble chairs, tables and dressers into new pieces that you can paint and sell."
So, even if you don't intend to use the table you fix, there's probably someone out there who could use the furniture. That means less energy spent by manufacturers making more products.
1. Sustainable packaging
Sustainability and eco-friendly business practices are a common topic of discussion for today's companies, but talking and doing are two different things. If your business hasn't already started using sustainable business practices, 2015 is the year you should start.
Have you ever ordered something from Amazon.com and found that the company sent you a box within a box within a box just to ship something small and insignificant? Excess packaging is an incredibly wasteful part of modern business, but your company doesn't need to follow in those inefficient footsteps.
Using sustainable packaging means taking multiple steps to ensure your business isn't using more packaging than it needs. Examine the following when designing a sustainable packaging program:
- Are packaging levels appropriate or too much?
- Are packaging materials made from recycled materials?
- Are the packaging materials locally crafted or made in North America?
- Are the packaging materials easily recycled?
Become a Sustainable Business in 2015
"Go green" and market your company's unique brand with sustainable packaging options from Howard Packaging. If your business is interested in using modern packaging solutions that reduce your company's impact on the environment, let us know! Find out what we can do for your business. Request a Free Catalog and Sample Kit Today!