Greening your business may take a little effort initially. It will almost definitely require an ongoing education process with your team to get their buy-in and commitment, but it only takes a few weeks to acquire a new habit…and this habit makes cents!
The pandemic and extreme weather events worldwide have resulted in people becoming more conscious of the inter-dependence of people, planet, and animals. ‘The green dollar’ is becoming a powerful incentive to businesses to reduce their carbon footprint because they can often charge more for sustainable products or practices, while ‘the green voice’ is becoming louder in creating reputational damage for brands that are perceived to do harm.
Here are 7 ways that you can join the green movement:
1. Get switched on to LED!
Converting to LED lights will save you money and help the planet. LED lights:
- Last 2-4 times as long as fluorescent lights and 5 times that of incandescent ‘ordinary’ lightbulbs.
- Use far less energy than traditional bulbs.
- Do not contain mercury and other toxic gases contained by incandescent and fluorescent lights.
- They have a low heat emission, always good in a warming world, and this makes them safer.
2. Ditch the plastic!
8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans. Every. Single. Year. This is on top of the 150 million tons currently polluting marine environments, ending up in our food chain and adding to the greenhouse effect. All this for something that is often used once e.g. plastic water bottles or lunch packaging. Returning to good old glass or environmentally - friendly alternatives such as bamboo, paper and bio-degradable products is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
- Replace plastic or polystyrene bottles and cups with eco-friendly alternatives.
- Use glass and crockery, not disposables.
- Give each employee a branded refillable water bottle.
- Use environmentally friendly packaging for your products.
- Have eco-brick stations for ‘soft plastic’ that isn’t recyclable e.g. cling film.
3. Put your money where your mouth is
Buy and sell sustainably.
- Do business with green suppliers. Where possible seek to do business with companies that follow sustainable practices or that offer eco-solutions.
- Buy local to reduce carbon footprint.
- Request environmentally friendly packaging.
- Offer green products as part of your product mix.
- Make sustainability something that you do!
4. Green your environment
Plants and greenery in general help to clean the air and soothe our senses. Aloe Vera, Gerbera Daisy, The Peace Lily, Spider Plants (Morogo), are known to be natural air purifiers.
If you are fortunate enough to have a garden where you operate, consider encouraging employees to start a vegetable garden and compost any kitchen scraps. Alternatively, make a concerted effort to go indigenous and water-wise.
5. Adopt a green cause
Make your 67 minutes something that you do all year round. Get your employees to be a part of identifying and selecting an NPO that benefits the environment and conservation; then support it as a company and as individuals. If there is a beneficiary that is close to the community in which you operate – even better! Everyone wins and it becomes a good news story to share.
6. The 5 Rs
Refuse, reduce, re-use, re-purpose and recycle.
- Don’t buy something new unless it’s absolutely necessary. Either extend the life of what you already have or purchase second-hand.
- If your business is replacing electronic items such as computers, smartphones or printers, chances are they can be put to good use by local schools or charities.
- Keep a beady eye on waste and the need to treat all equipment with care. It saves you money and reduces the landfill problem.
- Don’t print or print on both sides of the paper.
- Paint old furniture and fix things rather than discarding.
- Have recycling stations and arrange for collection with recycling companies.
- Switch off lights, equipment, water etc.
7. Use green cleaning products
It is easy and cheap to replace those nasty chemical cleaners with a few simple ingredients from your pantry like vinegar and bicarb. Healthier for you, your employees, the environment, and your wallet!
Share your ideas here. What have you done to green your business?
By Janet Askew