With so many products and services to choose from, it has never been more important to differentiate yourself from the competition. Going green is a great way to stand out, but even if your actions don’t land you on Newsweek’s Greenest Companies list, going green can help your bottom line. The following are some simple steps you and your company can take today to save money and decrease its impact on the planet.
Switch to post-consumer waste (PCW) paper, paper products, and packaging. Whenever possible, skip paper entirely, but if you have to print, make sure you are using eco-friendly paper. Well-intentioned businesses may look for a recycling symbol on a box of paper, but this is an unregulated designation. Only PCW paper is made entirely from the paper we place in our recycling bins each day. Making PCW recycled paper uses 45% less energy and creates half the waste of the traditional papermaking process. Purchasing products labeled as 100% PCW ensures you are using papers with the least impact. If 100% is not available, look for options with as much PCW content as possible, and don’t forget to recycle all your paper scraps instead of sending them to the landfill.
2. Use biodegradable cleaners. Using natural, biodegradable cleaning products reduces your exposure to harsh toxins and other chemicals, and reduces the introduction of these substances into the environment. The next time you run out of soap, shampoo or laundry detergent, swap in a greener option. Many stores sell green products in bulk.
3. Green Your Beauty Routine. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database is an amazing resource for finding non-toxic options for ever part of your personal routine. Most green products cost the same or less than their toxic counterparts and are better for your health and the environment.
4. Use compact-fluorescent (CFL) or LED lights. Though CFL and LED lights both have a higher purchase price than standard incandescent bulbs, they last significantly longer and use much less energy. CFL and LED bulbs can replace standard bulbs in most fixtures and can save you up to $200 per bulb over time. This calculator is a great way to see how quickly simply changing out your bulbs can add up!
5. Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels helping you asses their energy (and cash) requirements over time. Look for the yellow tags when you buy your next appliance, and splurge up front for the long term economic and environmental savings.
6. Get an energy audit and make simple changes around your office and house. According to he department of energy, sealing leaks and cracks in your home can cut up to 20% off the costs of your heating and cooling bills. Many states will perform free energy audits, and will pay for some or all of the repairs! (Google free energy audit and the name of your state for leads).
7. Power your office with alternative energy. In many areas of the country you can sign up to purchase “green power” from your current utility provider. Green power is generated from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, geothermal, hydropower and plant matter. Purchasing green power increases your electric bill by a small percentage, which is used to purchase clean energy that is fed into the electrical grid. To see if this is possible in your state visit Is my business in the Green Power Network?
8. Use public transportation, drive an alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles, or bike. Any of these three methods of transportation will reduce the carbon footprint of your business and highlight your environmental commitment. All will save you money over time.
9. Recycle outside the box. In addition to recycling everything that can be recycled, think green when buying or replacing items. Consider purchasing used or vintage office furniture instead of brand new pieces. You can find great deals on barely used office furniture on eBay and Craigslist.
10. Utilize green web hosting. Green web hosts are companies that take part in a variety of activities, such as using renewable energy, planting trees, or buying carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates to reduce or mitigate the environmental cost of running their servers and infrastructure. Most green companies cost the same or less than companies running servers using fossil fuels.
By following the simple tips above you can cut thousands of dollars off your bills and make yourself more attractive to eco-conscious consumers. No matter which of these steps you have taken, make sure to tell clients about what you are doing by creating an environmental mission statement or green practices section of your website, and by including any badges or certificates you earn on your site as well.