In order to truly make an impact when it comes to issues affecting the environment, everyone must do their part. Consumers often lead the way, demanding change via their buying habits and preferences. In fact, recent reports show that 86% of U.S. consumers expect companies to take action on environmental and social issues.
As a small business owner, there are simple steps you can take to help your company reduce its impact on the planet – and build an eco-friendly reputation that could help you win customers ahead of competitors. We’ve rounded up a few tips and practices that can go a long way towards greener small business operations.
Go digital, ditch the paper
Encourage your team to adopt a paperless workflow. Avoid printing and relying on hard documents whenever possible. Shift to digital contracts, invoices and reporting with your clients and vendors. If you receive any print subscriptions, switch to digital versions and opt for paperless bills across the board when given the option. In meetings, use a whiteboard, projector or digital screen for your agenda and notes. Consider how your employees can implement tablets to complete tasks and work with customers. User-friendly apps like Evernote, Trello and Wunderlist can help you manage lists and collaborate digitally.
Need further inspiration? Going paperless will also reduce spending on expenses like storage containers, ink, paper, envelopes and other office supplies. Plus, you’ll be shocked to see how much space was taken up with bulky physical records and free up valuable office real estate for your team. Try out a powerful scanning tool like the ScanSnap iX1500to digitize existing paper records as you transition to a fully paper-free office. Features like OCR (optical character recognition) allow you to add keywords and create searchable files, while its cloud-based organization capabilities help you store directly to Evernote, Google Drive and Box to create a digital filing system – backing up your files is absolutely crucial when going digital.
Support a greener commute
To cut down on harmful emissions, change up your daily commute and try to motivate your staff to do the same. Consider biking, walking or taking public transit a couple days a week. If your staff members can’t avoid driving altogether, help set up carpool groups. Consider offering perks like transportation or gas reimbursement to help persuade the whole team to get on board. Or, if you notice your employees embracing a green commute, reward the team with a company outing.
Another small change that can make a big environmental impact is reducing a little employee travel altogether. If feasible within your industry, consider incorporating remote days where team members can work from home a few times each month. With technology like video-conferencing and Slack at your fingertips, it shouldn’t interrupt your company’s workflow.
Commit to saving energy
It can seem like a no-brainer to conserve energy at home when you’re trying to cut down the cost of the electricity bill, but this doesn’t always carry over to our office habits. For instance, shutting down computers, unplugging devices, and turning off lights, heat, air conditioning, etc. when not in use are all vital habits to form. Ensure you’ve installed energy-efficient light bulbs and keep an eye on energy usage each month to spot areas of improvement around the office.
If you own your space, consider looking into alternative energy options. Installing a few solar panels can be a great way to make your building greener and cut down costs. Alternatively, if you’re a renter, talk it through with the building owner – this could help reduce their expenses, too, and even increase the value of the property.
At the end of the day, there are so many daily actions we can take as business owners, employees and consumers to protect the environment. What other tactics do you use to help your company go green?
The SmallBizRising Blog is designed to be an educational content hub pulling information, best practices and practical advice for the small business owner and features topics including accounting, marketing, technology and more. Be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with new content as it is posted. The blog was created by The Neat Company and receives contributed content from a group of contributing companies that provide technology, services and solutions to small businesses.