Whether one wants to use the example of Starbucks eliminating plastic straws or Ford Motors’ “Go Green Initiative,” at this point, there’s no shortage of environmental efforts to point to — at least on a larger corporate level. Between the pressure of corporate social responsibility and the profit margin of the Green movement, it makes sense for companies with big budgets to set up Green PR campaigns and invest in cleaning up their historically neglectful operations.
But what about smaller companies? How can entrepreneurs and startups do their part in the fight to be eco-friendly? Here are a few extremely cost-effective, easy-to-implement green initiatives that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can engage in without worrying about breaking the bank or overextending their staff in the process.
Consider the Nitty-Gritty Stuff
While it may not be as flashy as larger corporate initiatives, there are actually many, many smaller ways that SMBs can have an impact on the green movement by making little changes right within the four walls of their office. For instance, a company can:
Shift its cleaning products from harsher chemicals to eco-friendly cleaners.
Install smart-thermostats to better regulate the temperature of an office and avoid wasting heating or air conditioning.
Open windows from time to time to relieve the need for heat and AC altogether.
Replace bathroom fixtures and toilets with water-efficient alternatives.
Of course, these are just a handful of ideas. Ideally, a good green initiative will consider all of the various activities from within an office and look for any way to “greenify” the company’s actions in the future.
The concept of going paperless sounded complicated and expensive as recently as a few years ago. Thanks to the ever-improving tech world, though, it’s become simple and straightforward.
In addition to the simplicity, the effort to go paperless presents an extremely efficient green initiative that can save a small business time, resources, and money. In other words, it’s an easy win for both an SMB and the environment.
Seriously Repurpose and Recycle
While it’s easy to pop a recycling bin in the break room, a committed SMB can increase its green impact by genuinely extending its recycling behavior to all corners of the office. For instance, when shredding paperwork, make sure to bring it to a recycling plant that can actually process shredded paper and won’t simply throw it away.
Taking the time to donate old desks and chairs rather than throwing them away is also a great repurposing initiative. Even relaxing the dress code and encouraging second-hand apparel can be an excellent recycling effort that literally costs a company nothing.
Embrace Remote Work
Remote work is often touted for its effects on employee morale and productivity. However, it can also be a great way to help an office go green. For instance, an employee who doesn’t need to head into the office each day can stay home and work in a space that they already would have been actively heating or cooling while they were away. They also won’t burn fuel on a daily basis by driving to the office.
On top of that, embracing the remote work option can often provide a good reason to downsize an office space, which leads to lower heating and cooling costs, and fewer resources spent on couches, chairs, desks, and other items that would have only been used during the workday.
Involve the Community
If a company lacks the funds to properly launch a green initiative, it can invite the community to join in on its efforts as an easy way to help make a larger impact. Reaching out to local schools in search of environmentally active youth or working with a local nonprofit like a food shelter can be a great way to magnify a company’s efforts.
The actual green initiatives themselves don’t even have to be complicated or grandiose. For instance, if a company simply serves as the host for a community garden, it can draw significant attention to a business simply by repurposing existing space. This can be done by using a section of land owned by a company or even, if the operation is located in an urban center, setting up a rooftop garden, as long as things like runoff flow are carefully considered beforehand.
Going Green as a Small Business
All of these green efforts aren’t simply putting time and energy into a charity. Chances are, as a company gains a reputation for being socially responsible, it will gain a greater following of loyal customers as well. Millennials, a demographic that will have a total purchasing power of $10 trillion over the course of their generation, are specifically attracted to companies that openly espouse socially bold positions.
Bottom line bonuses aside, though, it’s also important to acknowledge the fact that climate change is impacting business in more ways than one. This includes small and medium-sized businesses, who must find ways to join the ranks of the larger companies in their industry and forge an eco-friendly path into the future.