Seven Tips to Help Your Company Be More Eco-Friendly

Seven Tips to Help Your Company Be More Eco-Friendly

If you want to help your business be greener and more eco-friendly, you’re not alone. Here are some manageable steps you can take to reach your goals for environmental responsibility—and cut costs in the process.

The year is 2020, and not only is the environment (and climate change) on the forefront of national and international conversations, but companies and organizations are expected to do their part—largely because they tend to have much more of an eco-footprint than do individuals.

But going green—or working towards goals to be more sustainable and conscious about the environment does not need to be difficult, or overly expensive. And it is no longer just a PR-label for companies. Technology and innovations have allowed business owners and corporations to rethink their small and large choices for the better, and really make an impact.

Benefits of a Green Business

Naomi Neilson is the CEO of Native Trails, a sustainable kitchen and bath manufacturer recently named a B Corp certification—a designation given to companies that meet certain social and environmental performance standards.

Running a green business can help everything from worker morale to client satisfaction. “Knowing that they’re working for an eco-friendly office boosts employee morale and helps attract new talent, especially millennials,” Naomi says.

Mike Lash, founder of Denver Advertising, also says running a green business positively affects the workforce. “The benefits of being socially and environmentally conscientious are apparent in our company, particularly with our ride-to-work initiative,” said Lash. “Here in Denver, we have 300+ days of sunshine annually, so we reward our team members for riding their bikes to work by paying for their bike tune-ups. If they ride to work on certain days, we also buy them lunch.”

Some Green Tips

One article by American Express outlines seven helpful tips for making your company greener:

Get an environmental audit. Before making changes or decisions yourself, it might be a good idea to consult an outside environmental auditing service. Such a firm could give you suggestions you might not have thought of, like installing LED lights or purchasing reusable cups for the office kitchen.

Source recyclable materials. It is really not very difficult to find manufacturers and companies that provide recycled materials for your office space or employees.

Nathan Sheets, CEO of honey company Nature Nate’s Honey Co., said Nature Nate’s uses “100-percent recyclable and BPA-free bottles for our honey. The labels are biodegradable and our honey packets are 100 percent recyclable. Our shipping boxes are made with 100 percent recycled material and are 100 percent recyclable. Waste materials generated on-site are recycled, such as boxes, packaging materials, paper, bottles and caps.”

Printing company HP Printing uses mostly recycled materials for its products—its printers and products are made with everything from recycled water bottles to repurposed plastic. You can even recycle and repurpose your HP printer cartridges.

Repurpose and redesign products. Repurposing and redesigning products can have major economic and cost benefits for your company. Companies can see dramatic reductions in internal operating costs just by repurposing raw materials in the creation of new products.

Barry Breede, author of Transforming the Utility Pole and marketing officer at Koppers Utility & Industrial Products, said: “We always look for materials that could be given a second life. We continuously reassess our product packaging methods to improve their sustainability quotient. For instance, we're currently considering a machine that shreds used cardboard into packaging material.”

Place recycling bins around the office. Employees are more likely to recycle if they have recycling bins to use. Plain and simple. And more often than not, employees want to recycle rather than throw something away.

Encourage and reward eco-friendly behavior. At Lash’s company, they encourage the use of environmentally conscious packaging.

“If employees bring their lunches to work in glass containers or get to-go coffee in their own mugs, I'll buy them lunch the next day,” says Lash.

You can also set up fun competitions for workers to bike to work, use public transportation or reduce their print paper consumption.

Reduce paper use. In this digital age, it is easier than ever to transition to eco-friendly, online systems. Plus, cutting down paper will likely save you paper production costs, too.

“We haven’t shown a client a paper-proof of a concept in about seven years,” says Lash. “This is significant, because in advertising, clients are used to seeing paper mock-ups of campaign ideas. By eliminating those presentations in physical form, we've saved a lot of paper.”

Lash says his company has reduced the use of paper in the office by 80 percent. Neilson’s business has also moved to a nearly paperless office. She said her company has since saved storage space because of it.

Get everyone on board. To really make a difference at your company and reduce your eco-footprint, everyone needs to be a participant. Neilson’s company has a ‘Green Team’ of employees who brainstorm and help implement environmentally friendly changes in the workplace.

You can do things like organize volunteering opportunities and team-building activities that serve the environment. Make being green fun by setting up games or competitions. Educate employees on why it’s important to go green: for the business and for the environment.

Starting with any or all of these steps is guaranteed to get your business to be more responsible in your impact on the environment—and you will likely have happier employees and reduced costs, too.

Still not sure where to start? Use this business carbon footprint calculator or consult an expert to get an idea of the impact—good and bad—that your business is making not just on the environment and the earth, but also on all the communities and species that inhabit it.

About the Author

Amanda Smiley is the Content Editor for Occupational Health Magazine and Environmental Protection for 1105 Media. You can reach her at [email protected].