"Going green" makes ample sense from a business perspective. In addition to providing positive PR, a company's green initiative helps the environment by contributing a smaller carbon footprint. Green-friendly initiatives illustrate that a company cares about its community and is willing to prioritize the environment over cutting corners.
While "going green" in previous decades was difficult due to cost and inaccessibility, recent advances in technology, from biodegradable cleaners to affordable CFL/LED lighting, have made it easy and cost-effective for businesses to truly go green. It's so easy in 2015 for a business to be green that the initiative should be considered by all, starting with the simple tips outlined below.
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Whereas fluorescent lighting contains harmful toxins like lead and mercury, LED lights are devoid of any harmful toxins. They are also more energy efficient and last longer than most traditional lighting. Switching to LED is one of the easiest green-friendly endeavors a company could pursue. Due to LED's longevity, the switch will even save money in the long run.
Compact-fluorescent lights (CFL) are also worth consideration. Similar to LED, they can save companies up to $200 per bulb over time. Plus, many CFL and LED lights slide right into the standard bulb socket for most fixtures.
All businesses strive to maintain a clean-looking office, particularly with the use of cleaning supplies. Biodegradable cleaners reduce exposure to chemicals and harsh toxins. They’re also widely available at a fair price in grocery stores and on Amazon.
Cleaning supplies only one example of eco-friendly products companies can buy to improve their green presence. In general, any product that is biodegradable and/or has low toxicity, reduced packaging and low life-cycle energy use should be considered if it serves the same function as a product that is not. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) summarizes this well:
“Taking steps to reduce exposure can minimize harmful impacts to custodial workers and building occupants, improve indoor air quality, and reduce water and ambient air pollution while also ensuring the effectiveness of cleaning in removing biological and other contaminants from the building's interior.”
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Any form of communication—from company memos to financial records—can now be securely stored and transmitted electronically. This makes paper a lot less essential than it was decades ago, which is great news for the environment. So many resources are used to make paper; 324 liters of water is required to make 1kg of paper, while paper also accounts for 25 percent of landfill waste and 33 percent of municipal waste. Companies who strive to minimize paper use, or eliminate it entirely, are doing the environment a great favor, while also responsibly adapting to a new form of communication in electronic storage and transmission that will undoubtedly continue to be the norm in business.
The U.S. Department of Energy has a map feature where business owners can check the availability of green power in their state. They should also reach out to their local utility provider for any green options available, such as opting to prioritize renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, hydropower, geothermal and plant matter. Although this may result in a higher monthly cost, it's a small percentage to purchase clean energy and make the environment a better one.
From employee’s water bottles to stacks of paper, it’s irresponsible for a business not to recycle. Some business managers may feel that their industry offers few options for recycling daily products, but you’d be surprised to learn some of the many creative recycling options out there.
For example, businesses in the construction industry can make use of scrap recycling services, and many cell phone retailers are beginning to offer phone recycling programs. As recycling becomes more important to our society, more and more options are becoming available to meet your specific business needs.
Going green is quite easy and cost-effective, as the above examples show. Businesses can certainly reap the PR benefits, but more importantly they will contribute positively to our environment by using products with no harmful toxins, reducing paper use and considering green alternatives for power and recycling.
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