Simple things a business can do to be greener
Recycling isn't only for huge corporations or community organizations. Even the smallest of tech startups can benefit from adopting a green philosophy. You'll save money and do something good for the environment in the process.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the country generates about 267.8 million tons of solid waste annually, or around 4.51 pounds per person each day. Only 94 million tons of that get recycled or composted. With only a 35% recycling rate, there is a lot of room for improvement, especially in the business sector.
You don't have to spend a ton of money on expensive equipment and programs to reduce your company's carbon footprint. There are some simple things tech businesses can do to become greener.
1. Use Less Paper
Cutting down on paper is an obvious place to start. As people have become more reliant on online communications, paper has become less popular. However, many businesses still print out agendas and reports for meetings and flyers for employee announcements. One way to reduce your paper usage is to commit to digital communication, especially for internal information. The paper you do use should come from recycled sources, and you should recycle printed material whenever possible.
2. Add Remote Work Options
There are many things your business can do to become more eco-friendly. One option is figuring out how to make your workers more conscious of energy usage. Switch to a four-day workweek and add remote work options, so people can reduce the number of miles driven to and from work and the carbon emissions added to the environment.
3. Reduce Business Waste Costs
Sending waste to a landfill is not only expensive, but it's also destroying our environment. Think about the costs involved. You likely pay a rental fee for each dumpster, and then a separate cost for the trash company to empty the dumpsters once a week. Reducing your waste and recycling the rest may save you money over the costs of other forms of waste management. Some of the methods to reduce waste include purchasing fewer materials, using less expensive recycling programs and even saving on the space needed for storage because you'll have fewer materials to contend with.
4. Start a Trade-In Program
If you make a product that becomes obsolete, people may toss their old items when they upgrade to something newer. This practice can leach materials into local groundwater and cause other environmental hazards as well. Starting a trade-in program where customers get credit for sending in their old products not only benefits the environment, but also gives you a chance to reuse some of the materials.
5. Appoint a Recycling Supervisor
Find someone on your team who is passionate about the environment, and appoint them to come up with easy-to-implement solutions to make your company greener. The person should research various initiatives you can implement as a brand and set short- and long-term goals for your company. They may come up with ideas you hadn't thought of trying and bring a fresh perspective to your eco-friendly efforts.
6. Create a Refuge for Local Wildlife
Use some of your outdoor space to plant a beautiful garden to attract butterflies, honeybees or local wildlife. A small pond and wooded area is a pleasant refuge for displaced creatures from nearby construction. While you aren't directly recycling with such a program, you are making a difference, and the area will make everyone more aware of the impact even a small business has on the local ecosystems.
7. Plant a Garden
Commercial farmers use pesticides and practices that can harm the local environment and often don't commit to recycling. Encourage your employees to buy local and organic by providing a small garden on your property. You can either divide the land into plots like a community garden and give them time during the workday to tend to their plants, or you can plant a larger garden and let employees take what they need for their families. Teach them about reducing food waste by taking only what they need and learning to freeze leftovers into meal kits.
8. Seek Green Suppliers
Think about the companies you do business with and whether they use green practices. Even the web hosting provider you use or which cloud service you go with has an impact. Seek out like-minded companies that put the health of Mother Earth first. For example, some web hosting providers use solar options for at least part of their services. However, the ideology should go much deeper and reach into the very heartbeat of a business. You can make a more significant recycling impact if you also choose to work with vendors that recycle.
9. Find E-Waste Junk Collectors
When it's time to get rid of your old electronics, don't automatically send them to the landfill. Plenty of companies will pick up old appliances and computers. These businesses tend to collect the parts and reuse or recycle what they can. While they may not recycle every part of the old item, any recycling is beneficial. Most e-junk collectors will also remove the items for free, saving you money. If you can't find e-waste removal experts in your area, talk to local art schools about whether they have any students who take old items and rework them into art.
10. Upgrade Instead of Replace
Don't be in a hurry to replace old equipment or appliances. Instead, look into ways to repair and extend the lifespan of what you have a bit longer. Not only will you save on waste that filters into the environment, but you'll also likely save money by not replacing equipment as often. It's part of doing business to upgrade computers and systems occasionally. Still, even if you stretch out the buying time to an extra six months each time, you've made a small, positive impact.
11. Separate Your Containers
Place your recycling containers in convenient locations, and use different colors along with images to denote what each is for. Traditionally, black is for un-recyclable waste. You can then add separate receptacles for glass, plastic, aluminum and compost —starting a compost pile is an excellent addition to that garden area.
One of the most powerful things you can do to get everyone on board with your recycling program is to send out weekly reminders and communicate your passion for making a difference. When your employees see how much of an effort you are making, they'll be more likely to get inspired and follow your lead. Set the example and do all the small things that lead to critical changes in your tech company.