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5 Easy Ways to Green Up Your Business

Sustainability is something we should all aspire to, especially as small business owners. However, how do we get there? What can we do to make a difference? Small steps combine to make a big impact, so even making little changes every day can improve your carbon footprint and in turn, your bottom line.

Here are 5 easy ways to make your business more Earth-friendly:

1) Paperless Office

Thanks to online signatures, email, and an ever increasing array of apps, printing anything out now feels like going back in time. (Seriously, when is the last time you sent a fax?) You no longer need to send clients or customers paper copies of anything - everything can be done electronically.

Apple has been doing this for years. About a month ago, I had to take in my Macbook Pro for servicing. I went online and booked an appointment at the Genius Bar (trying not to snicker at the name), and went in for my appointment the next day. I was checked in by a staff member with an iPad, and all my info was sent to one of the Apple "Geniuses" at the main desk. All my emails to Apple, correspondence with Apple Care, computer details, contact info, and service contracts were handled electronically. I even signed my name using an iPad, and a copy of everything was emailed to me. I never even touched a piece of paper. Behold - THE FUTURE!

2) Subscribe to Renewable Energy

A really simple way of reducing your carbon footprint is to subscribe to a renewable energy provider. These companies add renewable energy to the grid on your behalf, offsetting the amount of fossil fuels being used. Renewable energy includes micro-hydro, wind turbines, and solar panels. The largest green energy provider here in Canada is Bullfrog Power. They offer plans for residential and commercial spaces, for just a few dollars a month. You are billed based on how large your home is, and your usual energy consumption. Super easy to do, and it makes a huge difference!

3) Conscientious Partying

I can't tell you how many times I've attended an office party, and decorations are bought from a dollar store, only to be thrown away after one use. This practice is wasteful, and complete unnecessary. Instead, why not be mindful about what you buy? Offices can use the dishes they have on hand, and decorations can be minimal or easily recycled/reused. You'll save money, and your employees will probably be thankful for the lack of tacky decorations.

4) Ditch the Commute

According to the Citi ThankYou Premier Commuter Index (yeah...that's their real name), Americans spend $2,600 per year to get to and from their jobs. Instead of all that money and energy angrily being spent in traffic, let your employees work from home! Thanks to SFTP servers, email, and mobile devices, going to the office is becoming more and more optional. The 9-to-5 days are going the way of the dodo, so why not take advantage of the trend? You'll be saving energy and money, and your employees will be happy they can work in the comfort of their own home. As an added bonus, here are a few tips to save even more energy when working from home!

5) Personalized Coffee Mugs

Starbucks paper coffee mugs are as ubiquitous these days as iPhones, especially in big cities. The problem is, they still take lots of energy to produce and recycle. A great alternative is to have personalized coffee mugs in the office! Travel mugs can be set aside with one designated for each employee. Just bring them to your favourite cafe, and they will fill them up for you. You may even get a few cents off your bill for bringing in your own mug!

I've also seen a similar practice done at a small cafe. The cafe offered customers unlimited free coffee if they bought a monthly membership. Once signed up, the customer was given a personalized mug, which was washed daily and ready for them the next time they came in for coffee. The beauty of this is that the cafe made more money per month since most people didn't just come in for coffee, and less coffee cups were thrown into the garbage. That sounds like another win-win to me!

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