How your small business can go green

From recycling to ways of saving electricity, Hannah Pennell explores the measures you can take to make your business greener.

Over the past couple of years, being sustainable has become a way of life for businesses and organisations around the world. With the pressure to protect the environment at an all-time high, it’s important that they are taking responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint. Businesses are aware that going green is not a trend, but something that should be implemented. Industries such as retail, for example, are already doing their part; from cutting back on receipts and sending them via email to reduce paper wastage, or encouraging customers to reuse their own bags.

Converting a business to be environmentally friendly can be extremely beneficial, it can create a healthier and more pleasant environment for staff, and even allow them to cut back on their utility bills. For those smaller businesses that are looking at going green, there are couple of simple changes that can be carried out to make this transaction. We explore how you can do it, and the effect these changes will have on the environment and your business.

See also: Environmental checklist for small businesses

Office supplies

Before bulk ordering office equipment, ensure that you are only ordering what is essential, and also that they are eco-friendly products that can be recycled. By opting for non-disposable products, they will not be recycled and be dumped on landfill sites, polluting local environments. Over time, these landfill sites will contaminate soil and water, and producing around 40 per cent of methane emissions putting at risk the lives of wildlife who will pass through it, such as birds or rats.

Air conditioning

Air conditioning systems do not have a good impact on human health, or on the environment. Throughout the day, air conditioners require a lot of electricity usage that’s being powered by burning coal that’s releasing greenhouses gases into the air. The chemicals that are built up within the system have the ability to destroy the ozone layer when they are released.

Today, in new green business builds, construction companies are replacing the traditional systems with eco air systems that are run on real air that’s great for the environment and also preventing common illnesses being spread around. However, for those not working in a green build but looking to reduce air conditioning usage, they can obtain this through timing it to only be in use during work hours, being turned off when vacant and opening windows when possible for fresh air and cooling temperatures.

Switch the lighting

Similar to air conditioning systems, lighting uses an excessive amount of energy, and comes from coal-burning power plants that are polluting the environment. Businesses will benefit from switching from fluorescent lights to LEDs which are energy efficient. They’re also proven to be cheap to run and have a longer life span of up to 11 years, meaning the need to manufacture and produce more lights is reduced and as a result, will not be burning unnecessary emissions. Places such as airports and schools are embracing the LED lights too in order to reduce their impact on the environment.

Other ways to maximise the use of natural light within a working environment is to position desks by windows, or through opening blinds to allow light to pass through. By painting walls in a neutral colour, light will reflect well of it giving the illusion of a bright atmosphere. This will also help impact the heat of the room, and allow it to keep the room cooler on hotter days.

Recycling bins

Many small businesses tend to have one general waste bin that will be used to dispose of everything from food to plastic bottles. Instead, they should install a range of bins for employees to separate products to ensure that if the product can be recycled, it is. Items including product toners or electrical items should be disposed of properly.

Plants

Not only does having a plant within the room improve the office decor and staff creativity levels, they also have the ability to remove pollutants and toxins within a room. As we are surrounded by technology that’s hot, the working atmosphere can become quite dry. Plants will work against this, increasing the humidity in the air, creating a more pleasant environment for staff. As a result, staff morale and overall health will improve.

Commuting

If your business requires a lot of meetings away from the office, instead of your employees driving there, invest in good technology to allow them to chat virtually. This will reduce the excess fuel being pumped into the environment. If your company is in an accessible area, you could also encourage employees to use other means of travel to get to work. Is it possible for them to use public transport, cycle or carpool with others?

Going paperless

Thanks to advances in technology, we have the ability to live and work in a world that no longer requires us to need a hard copy of everything. Documents like reports no longer need to be printed off, and can be easily accessed online and downloaded. If anything is required to be printed, ensure you opt for eco-friendly paper that can be put in a recycle bin.

Stop wasting electricity

Although it may seem like an obvious solution to saving money and looking after the environment, it’s surprising how many employees do not turn off their equipment at the end of the day. Today, most technology can be set to energy saving times, to ensure they switch off after a period of time that they are not being used for. As the world we live in relies heavily on electricity, focus needs to be put on reducing the carbon dioxide emissions into the environment.

Related: A step-by-step guide to installing a smart meter

According to government research, the business sector alone is responsible for 17 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions so it’s vital businesses should be doing everything they can to reduce this. Today, being as sustainable as possible is vital, and is important for small businesses to educate both themselves, and their staff, on the importance of creating a green work environment. By making these simple changes, companies will be safeguarding the world we live now, and protecting it for future generations.

Hannah Pennell is a content writer for Light Supplier.

Further reading on green small businesses

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