Green business ideas are plentiful and pose economic advantages for many companies.
So it’s no wonder — as Earth Day (April 22, 2020) rolls around again — there is a trend among retailers and manufacturers to adopt eco-friendly measures. “Sustainable business initiatives,” as they are called, range from recycling junk mail to using 100 percent renewable energy.
Ways companies can go green
Here are some great ideas to get your business on the right path:
Reuse materials. People who lived through the Great Depression learned to repurpose items before it was chic. Follow in their footsteps by safely reusing products or donating items no longer need. Totally Promotional donates products to charities year-round instead of sending them to the local landfill.
Recycle what you can. This is one of the easiest Earth Day ideas for work. Most communities in the U.S. have recycling centers where items can be dropped off or are picked up for proper disposal. Create designated bins in your office or factory to collect paper, aluminum, glass and other recyclable items. You can contact your local recycling center to learn its specific recycling rules.
Choose vendors who think like you. Find out how “green” your business partners are and stick with those who have the same eco-friendly goals as you. A vendor that really wants to partner with you is likely to jump on the earth-friendly bandwagon with you.
Sell eco-friendly products. Green products may not be your best-sellers, but it’s a good idea to give your customers that option. Totally Promotional’s selection of eco-friendly items continues to grow and we’re proud of that! A few of the products we carry are canvas and jute tote bags, Eco Spiral Notebooks and Styrofoam cups.
Love your landscape. Reduce pesticide and chemical use in favor of all-natural applications. Apply organic materials to fertilize and control pests, and include composting and mulching to improve the soil. Organic methods also help reduce toxins in our underground water tables.
Clean to keep green. Swap out traditional cleaning supplies for natural products. You’ll find many nontoxic cleaning materials and products on the market today that won’t endanger anyone’s health or the environment.
Get an energy audit. Ask your local energy company or the EPA about receiving an energy audit to reduce your carbon imprint and monthly bills. You might be surprised by the impact subtle energy changes can make on the world and your wallet. Plus, some green energy efforts are eligible for tax credits.
Set goals. Setting goals can help companies ease into transitions, establish new routines and keep costs manageable. Start by appointing a committee to research options, present them to company officials and set a timeline for implementation.
Focus on the Big 3
Dina Pierce of Ohio EPA said the key to becoming a good environmental steward is measurement. You need to know what goes into your business and what comes out regarding products/services and waste, she explained.
These three areas can help you measure your businesses’ green efficiency:
- Electricity: Almost every business pays for electricity and the amount used is detailed on their energy bill. Take a look at lighting, the HVAC system and the way your business uses those systems. Using more energy-efficient lighting, switches, motors, pumps and other items reduces the environmental impact of electric generation. You can assess how you’re doing by looking at the energy used on that bill.
- Water: Many businesses use water to make their products. Those that don’t still have restrooms, break rooms and other areas where water is used. Most businesses can use their water bill to measure any water conservation efforts. Businesses that don’t pay for their water still pay for the electricity to pump their wells. So reducing water usage will save some money and reduce the environmental impact of extracting, transporting and treating the water it uses.
- Waste: Look at the dumpster or whatever conveyance is used to remove waste from your business. After initially paying for supplies and packaging, a business pays again to remove, transport and take care of its waste at some type of disposal facility. Any changes that can be made to prevent the generation of waste into the dumpster is going to save money — twice. The materials purchased and thrown away all have an environmental impact. A business can become a better environmental steward simply by looking at what it uses and what it throws away. Set up office recycling programs; utilize reusable products and returnable packaging; and find substitutes that minimize environmental impact. The invoices for purchases and waste disposal can be used to measure progress.
Rewards for green business ideas
Your goal is to protect Mother Nature, but the positive impact of sustainable practices brings added bonuses:
Reduce long-term costs. Becoming energy efficient often involves an investment in equipment, materials and labor. Examples would be purchasing solar panels or geothermal units, recycling containers, and LED and CFL bulbs for your business. However, in time these changes will lower energy bills and give your company positive PR for adopting eco-friendly measures.
Impress clients and customers. Even if your clients haven’t taken steps themselves to help the environment, they are likely to applaud yours. Eighty-one percent of people around the globe feel companies should help the environment. Jumping into the green movement improves a company’s reputation for being responsible.
Keep employees healthy. Replacing toxic chemicals used in manufacturing can improve the health and well-being of your employees. This also can help reduce the number of sick days workers take. A healthier workforce can lower insurance costs and keep your business operating more efficiently.
Reap tax benefits. Besides lowering energy bills, you may be entitled to tax credits or deductions for specific eco-friendly projects. These added bonuses are often available when switching to renewable energy such as wind turbines or by incorporating high-energy systems in your buildings.
Help is out there for your business
Ohio EPAs Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention offers free assistance to businesses of all sizes, according to Pierce. One of those services involves helping companies launch efficiency and waste reduction programs.
“Changing to a more environmentally sustainable process takes an investment of time, effort, and resources,” she said. “Fortunately, many standard business practices are now incorporating sustainable approaches. There’s a wealth of easy-to-access information to help most businesses get started. It’s easier than ever for someone to steer their business in this direction.”