So you all have no doubt heard the news of the world’s impending doom. How impending this oblivion is is certainly a matter for conjecture but the reality of global warming and worldwide economic turmoil has forced the hand of many businesses to change or tweak their ways. Companies have come to realize that adopting policies of procurement and work processes of the eco-friendly variety have both short and long-term benefits: (the ‘two-pronged attack’) reducing waste and saving money.
Austerity measures by their very nature are almost always environmentally friendly and the two aims can happily overlap (with many added business benefits!). Common sense is a beautiful thing – hopefully demonstrated in the following methods.
A paper trail is costly, money wise and for Mother Nature. Cutting down on the amount of paper you use in the office (and waste) is one of the fundamentals of going green. Double-sided print-outs will half the amount of paper you use. You can reduce the consumption of ink and the cost by buying recycled printer cartridges and re-filling them yourself.
Printing documents that land you with several unwanted sheets is a regular occurrence for many and undoubtedly costly over time. ‘Green printing’ software will put a stop to paper and ink being wasted in this way. Similarly, good payroll and accounting software can be used to bring together many hitherto separate functions and save paper, printing and time simultaneously. Employers could look into doing away with ‘hard-copy’ payslips in favor of online payslips.
More savings can be made by chipping away at the bulky mailing list and checking through it for mistakes in the address details. Effort, amongst other things, is wasted by trying to send out mail shots or brochures to recipients that have relocated or ceased trading. Pruning the mailing list and keeping it regularly updated is good for business.
The metaphorical pruning shears could serve you well when it comes to getting your next electricity bill. Simple steps such as replacing all old-fashioned light bulbs with less energy zapping models and working in natural daylight where possible are good starting points. If you don’t already, get into the habit of turning off all electrical equipment not in use including all computers before you leave the office at the end of the day. It might be worth bearing in mind that laptops use, on average, ninety percent less energy than the usual desktop computer. Generally speaking, investment in energy efficient components and sensor switches for lights will pay dividends in the long-term.
Green and ethical working is a habit that all your staff can get into. If sufficient information and facilities (or even incentives!) are provided then waste as a factor of the average business day could be eliminated through recycling, re-using, repairing and careful procurement.
‘Greening the supply chain’ of your business has all of the aforementioned advantages and more. It is well worth investing the time, effort and money in procuring ethically sourced materials and environmentally friendly products to be used in all aspects of your business from administration to production and distribution. Buying carefully doesn’t just mean buying the right things but buying only what is necessary. It is much cheaper (and friendly to nature) to buy less material than to waste and dispose of excess. The products you sell are indeed the benchmark for your firm’s ethics and values and should be designed and packaged with an eye to sustainability. To recycle is great but re-use is even better. If your products can be re-used or repaired with ease – factors such as these can be a great or even (depending on the commodity) a unique selling point. The better your company’s credentials for manufacturing or designing green goods, the more the consumer will pay for them. Not only that, converting or starting out with green business practices from the offset will raise your profile and differentiate your company from others in the market a little slower to embrace the ways of the eco-trader.
Reliance on fossil fuels and emissions from travel are the key contributors to global warming. On a micro level, your business can become greener by considering a few of these ideas:
Networking, meetings and conferences are of huge importance in finding new business, in the training of employees and even procurement of the latest technologies – all with the aim of keeping your business at the top of its game. In an effort to reduce costs associated with travel and, of course, where travel is not feasible – some firms have adopted video or teleconferencing. By which method meetings or staff training has been staged with the happy result of reducing carbon footprints. There has even been talk over the internet by some business owners of introducing a four day week. Obviously, travel for purposes of conducting business is still necessary in many cases. Searching for discounted travel fares, getting employees to share hire cars, hotel rooms, even the ride to and from work – are all ways you can kill these two birds (reducing emissions and cutting costs) with one stone.
Join the green movement by finding better and greener ways to market your brand and send out your message. Cost-free advertising can be had by anyone with sufficient internet knowledge and an awareness of the power of social networking. If starting-up a business you can boost your influence quite a bit and even find business by joining in discussions in forums or message boards. Many forums allow you to include a signature on each post – in which you can place details of your company and a URL to your website. As baffling as social networking is to many people (including the author), still it seems to be growing rapidly in popularity as a tool for commerce. Sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook allow you to find your audience and all for little or no cost to the environment or to you financially. Time is money, however, but any labor expended on this endeavour will repay you in the long-term.
This is a guest post by Laura Swain. She works as a researcher for the small business payroll company Iris Software