Can you call your company “green” with a straight face?
If you’re not directly involved in the production of sustainable products or the procurement of eco-friendly services, the answer is probably “no.” But, as is so rarely the case in the rough-and-tumble business world, getting to “yes” could be easier than you think.
Lessen your company’s environmental impact and build a sustainable model for peer companies by following these six low-cost, high-reward ways your business can go greener.
1. Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
Start small, with eco-friendly cleaning products that treat the natural world as gently as your hands. As a general rule, anything soapy — laundry detergent, dishwashing powder, liquid dish cleaner — has an environmentally friendly analogue. For surface cleaning, water-vinegar mixtures work better than you’d imagine. When in doubt regarding store-bought cleaners, consult your local environmental or consumer protection bureau.
2. Retrofit Your Office or Workspace for Efficiency
Passive heating and cooling is all the rage. Install solar blinds and super efficient windows to keep hot air out and cool air in (or vice versa). Crunch the numbers to determine whether out-year savings on a geothermal or radiant heating system justify its considerable installation costs. Swap out aging appliances and fixtures for energy- and water-sipping upgrades.
3. Work to Raise Awareness of Environmental Issues in Your Backyard
Champion eco-friendly initiatives — and work to raise awareness of environmental perils — in your business’s backyard.
“We’ve worked over the past few years to build awareness of water quality threats from agricultural runoff,” says Manitoba-based environmental advocate David Janeson, whose small Lake Winnipeg resort relies on clean, safe water.
There’s no wrong answer here. Janeson’s principal concern is the health of the lake he loves; yours might be air quality in your urban neighborhood or invasive species borne into your farmstead on warming winds. Make environmental advocacy a priority and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish
4. Clean Up Your Fleet
Why drive a gas-guzzling van or SUV when a station wagon or hybrid hatchback will do?
“Because transportation accounts for nearly three-fourths of total U.S. petroleum consumption, using more energy efficient vehicles like hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles can have a direct impact,” notes a U.S. Department of Energy primer on the benefits of high-efficiency fleets.
In other words, making your business fleet more efficient may be the most eco-friendly and cost-effective move your business can make.
5. Purchase Carbon Offsets for Business Travel
If business keeps you on the road (or in the air) more often than not, offset your travel habits’ prodigious carbon emissions by purchasing carbon offsets from a reputable vendor. Your offsets fund clean power projects, reforestation initiatives, and other large-scale efforts to stem rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
6. Buy into a Clean Energy Project
Consider going a step farther by investing in clean energy for your home office, too. No need to put a solar array on your building’s roof or erect an unsightly wind turbine out back (good luck with that). In a rapidly growing number of jurisdictions, businesses and individuals can purchase shares in community solar gardens, guaranteeing carbon-free power (and locking in rates) for years or decades on end.
Greener Pastures Await
All of us must do our part to care for the environment. As a business owner, you’re better positioned than most to do yours.
As we’ve seen, doing right by the planet doesn’t require undue sacrifice. Indeed, it’s far from clear that it’s bad for business. As public awareness of humanity’s outsize impact on the environment increases, the business case for shirking sustainability weakens.
With collective effort and shared sacrifice, greener pastures await the business community.
What steps has your business taken to be greener?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.
“PIN & SHARE”