When it comes to the way your organization conducts business, there are plenty of opportunities to green your organizations operations and reduce your environmental footprint while increasing the value of your offerings. The following are a list of “low hanging fruit” or strategies that are easy and low cost to implement.
1. Cliche Although True: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.First things first, evaluate ways to reduce the material goods and/or services that come into your business or organization, and determine if you can use less. Do you really need that extra refrigerator? Can we turn the lights off at night? Can that old dumpy desk be given away to someone on Craigslist, rather than trashed in the landfill? Are there bins set up in convenient locations to recycle paper, glass, cardboard, plastic?
2. Install Low Flow Aerators.
Saving water doesn’t have to be a challege. Install a low flow aerator into each kitchen and bathroom faucet and your organization can save thousands of gallons of water (and hundreds of dollars) every year. Besides, the way the aerator mixes air with the water, no one will even notice the difference! Once that is successful, try changing the shower head and consider replacing toilets and urinals with low (or no) water-use fixtures.
3. Go Outside!There is nothing better for an office worker then to get out of the office once in a while! Plan a field trip once a month for your colleagues where you take a tour of a green building, visit a waste recycling site, or learn how to compost from the volunteers of the local community garden. People will appreciate the opportunity to learn something new, interact with others outside the office, stretch their legs and get some fresh air and sunshine.
4. Encourage Carpooling and Host Contests for Alternative Travel.I once worked for a company who had a very competitive Bike to Work month. Teams of four were formed and logged their bike miles on a large spreadsheet in the staff room. Prizes such as new bike gear, swanky riding bikes and cycling vacations were given out to the winning teams. Nothing like a little friendly competition – and a great way to get into shape while reducing emissions.
5. Allow Telecommuting.Telecommuting has come a long way, especially in the age of Skype, iChat and others. Set up a virtual private network for your staff and enjoy the enhanced productivity, reduced commute times and pollution and gain extra employee satisfaction. Fuzzy slippers optional.
6. Carefully Procure Paper and Office Supplies.Ever wonder where your office supplies come from? What body of water was polluted to make that Post-It Note? No longer. Take an inventory of where office supplies come from and change over to companies that select only ethical, more sustainable solutions.
7. Purchase Carbon Offsets.Travel is inevitable in this day and age, although there are alternatives. Reduce the amount of travel your organization requires by using technology and carpooling to meetings. Attend the regional conference instead of flying across the country. Use that video camera to meet, instead of hoping on the plane to fly across the state. If you do have to travel, consider alternative forms of travel. Can you rent a hybrid? Take the bus? Train instead of plane? Once you log those miles, be sure to purchase carbon offsets to mitigate the negative effects of doing business.
8. Just Say No To Incandescent Light Bulbs.Incandescent light bulbs are so, like, old school. Replace old light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and plan on saving about $40 over the life of each bulb! Since, according to the Energy Star program, the average rated life of a CFL is between 8 and 15 times that of an incandescent, it will mean less time on a ladder, smaller electricity bills, and less cooling load since the incandescent throws out so much heat!
9. Clean Green.These days there are plenty of green cleaning supplies available on the market! Be sure to select those with a third party label like Green Seal. Consider all cleaning - from polishing mirrors to cleaning carpets to vacuum filters - as items to procure and communicate with janitorial staff.
10. Communicate Your Success.We all feel good when we make positive choices for the environment, but if a tree doesn’t fall in the forest and no one is around to hear…What is your organization doing to be more sustainable? Let the world know in your company newsletter, on your website, on your business cards, in your presentations, on your annual report. Even better, hire a PR firm that specializes in green marketing, and make your good deeds known far and wide.