The sad fact is that the 29 July this year was the Earth Overshoot Day. According to WWF, from that date onward, humanity will use more resources from nature than it can renew in a year. In the last 20 years, the EO day has moved by two months. It is a reminder that we can do something to move it back if we adopt environmentally friendly practices. Having in mind the shockingly high impact businesses have on the environment, a kernel of change may lie within a sustainable, eco-friendly business. The least we can do is set an example for others to follow. In the business world, that’s what sets companies apart.
THE BENEFITS OF CREATING AN ECO-FRIENDLY BUSINESS
Many new practices face resistance at first, which stems from lack of information. It is possible to run a successful business that saves money, makes employees healthy, and is environmentally responsible at the same time. However, it requires a dedicated business owner ready to educate him/herself and then raise awareness in the enterprise. Tracking and showing progress to employees will motivate them to contribute with their ideas. Every idea that would make your business more eco-friendly should be adequately rewarded.
CAN ECO-FRIENDLY BUSINESS SAVE MONEY?
It may seem to business owners that investments in green practices don’t pay off, but it is a misconception. Initially, switching to an environmentally friendly, sustainable business is costly. However, it has a positive return on investment, which is evident in savings and maintenance costs.
Invest in energy-efficient products. Such walls and floors will allow for more effective cooling and heating. Install movement-activated light switches and energy-efficient lightbulbs. It will positively affect your electricity bills. Furthermore, you can use smart power strips or set power-saving or sleep mode when you don’t use your computers. Consider unplugging all electronic devices before you leave your office. Saving water is another aspect of a green office. Aside from fixing leaking taps or toilets, you can reduce the amount of wasted water in other ways. Aerators and motion sensors will reduce the use of water. A new generation of water-conserving toilets (low flow or even dual flush) can save thousands of gallons of water per year.
Perhaps the most obvious saving you can make is applying the 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) policy on office material. Reduce the use of paper, plastic cups, plates, and cutlery. If you have to use a product, opt for recycled or other environmentally friendly alternatives. Encourage your employees to use glass cups or flasks and fill your office kitchen with ceramic plates and metal cutlery. If you plan to replace your electronics with modern energy-efficient devices, donate the old. On the other hand, you might consider acquiring previously used furniture at a lower price. Finally, everything that can be reused and not end in a landfill is a good option.
ENVIRONMENTAL EFFORTS AS A PART OF CSR
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a practice that aims to develop a business model. Employees, clients, and customers would rather choose to deal with a business that demonstrates good corporate citizenship. Millennials will inherit the business world, and in that world, brand image will be crucial. CSR has become so important that citizens tend to rely on businesses to push the environmental change where governments may hinder it.
Sustainability certification is a good start and a guide for businesses that want to set themselves apart. When more money is spent on advertising green practices than investing in those activities it leads to greenwashing. Greenwashing is a term coined for the practice of overrepresenting or falsely advertising the company’s eco-friendly efforts. Third-party verification assures clients and customers that the brand is not prone to it.
While big corporations and companies can afford LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), small and medium businesses should start implementing TRUE Zero Waste and Green Business Bureau (GBB) certification. This means that with assistance from experts, you’d be only a step away from creating an eco-friendly business.
A HAPPY WORKER IS A GOOD WORKER
An enjoyable office will make your workers more prolific and happier. Additionally, green office space has numerous health benefits. Better access to daylight is known to reduce depression, and fresh air to increase wakefulness. There’s no need for artificial air conditioning if you can simply open the windows. Also, the more you rely on natural light, the more you will save on electricity. Hygiene in your business quarters is another aspect where you can turn to eco-friendly alternatives. Green cleaning chemicals are beneficial both to the environment and human health.
Bringing the plants in will improve air quality and boost creativeness. NASA’s researchers made a list of plants that proved to be useful as air-purifiers. English ivy (Hedera helix), Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’), Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii), and Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata) are some of the plants you should keep on your desks. A healthy work environment will lead to fewer sick days.
Promoting green commute is another way to strengthen an image of your eco-friendly business. Educate and motivate your employees to use carpooling, ride a bike, or walk to work. Find a way to reward those that accept these incentives. If the type of work allows, encourage your employees to work from home. Furthermore, you can reduce your footprint by organizing video conferences and meetings, and distribute minutes in digital form. Instead of paying storage for your paper archive you can upload it to cloud storage. Not only you will save on the rent, but you will be able to access it 24/7.
ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
If your employees see that your business is making efforts to reduce its footprint, they will feel proud to be a part of your brand and more likely become more productive. Creating an environmentally friendly business doesn’t have to be costly. From the vast number of activities and options you get to choose which one would have the highest impact. To sum it up, some of the simplest options have the most positive effect.