7 Ways to Build a Green Business
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As the world’s largest corporations are investing billions of dollars into more sustainable operations, you may be wondering how to build a green business, too.
Undoubtedly, climate change and other environmental crises will shape regulations for businesses in the future. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) already has an exhaustive list of restrictions in place for the automotive, agricultural, technology, construction, and energy industries.
A 2018 survey conducted by Futerra interviewed consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom. The findings showed that 88% of consumers want brands to help them make the world a cleaner, safer and healthier place.
That means, even if your company doesn’t fall into one of the sectors mentioned by the EPA, investing in your company’s sustainability will likely draw in plenty of eco-conscious customers.
However, you may be wondering how to transition to a more environmentally-friendly business without the astronomical expense. The truth is, creating a greener company certainly comes at a cost, but a worthwhile one that doesn’t necessarily need to break the bank. Here are seven simple ways to get started.
1. Create a Sustainable Company Culture
Anyone involved in the fight against climate change will emphasize that it’s a team effort requiring the collaboration of experts, advocates, businesses, and the community. When it comes to making your business green, it’s important to embark on your vision as a unified team, as well.
As a leader in your firm, it’s up to you to create a sustainable company culture. Ways you can do this include:
- Engage your employees in a green mindset for the future.
- Seek out the employees who care about the environment and are eager to contribute to your company’s sustainability objectives.
- Ask for their input on improving your company’s carbon footprint and brainstorm ways you can insert sustainability into daily operations.
- Create efficacy goals that are measurable and attainable, then champion your organization’s success in meeting those goals.
Remember that creating a sustainable company culture and strategizing green initiatives go hand in hand, and your employees will help drive your mission. Put your company’s environmental policies down in writing, set your sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs), and remain open to changing your business model.
2. Switch Out Light Bulbs
Another easy way you can begin transitioning to a green business is by switching to LED light bulbs. While LEDs can be pricey up front, they last almost 25 times longer than other types of light bulbs.
In addition to being a more energy-efficient alternative, LEDs don’t contain mercury or additional harmful gases like incandescent and fluorescent lights do.
To save even more on electricity with LEDs, you might consider installing specific controls like timers or dimmers. You can set your LED lighting timers for building operational hours while dimmers can control the light levels. You might also consider motion sensors so that the lights automatically turn on or off based on movement in hallways or bathrooms.
3. Get Rid of Plastics
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), humans have generated 8.3 billion tons of plastic waste since the 1950s. In the United States, 35.7 million tons of plastic waste were generated in 2018 alone.
The more information released about plastic waste and its consequences on the environment, the more people have started rejecting single-use plastics.
When developing your company’s green initiatives, consider investing in an office-based water filtration system. By providing employees with a clean drinking water source, you can cut back on the costs of packaged bottled water.
You might also encourage your employees to switch from plastic utensils to real ones and bring reusable drinkware from home. Small habitual changes like reducing plastic use can make a significant impact.
4. Work With Green Vendors
Every year, more companies pledge to only work with green vendors, which has forced the supply chain to become more sustainable in their practices.
Consider who your vendors are—for example, where you get ink cartridges, printing paper, and cleaning supplies from—and inquire about their sustainability initiatives. Find out if they use recycled paper materials or employ end-of-life (EOL) recycling plans for their products.
There are several approaches you can take as the head of your company to ensure that your suppliers uphold their own environmental responsibility, including:
- Asking whether they’ve set their own long-term sustainability goals
- Only choosing to work with suppliers who have gone green
- Including suppliers in your company’s sustainability plan
- Appointing an employee to ensure that the supplier upholds the company’s sustainability initiatives
Always look for suppliers and vendors who use energy-efficient transportation and manufacturing facilities, as well, and who share your company’s values in reducing their carbon footprint.
5. Build a Living Wall
Although they’re more expensive and possibly not feasible in every office setting, living walls are an excellent eco-friendly investment you can make to create a greener business. Also known as “vertical gardens,” living walls are parts of a wall covered in plants. Some even have built-in irrigation systems for low-maintenance care.
There are several benefits to implementing living walls at workplaces. For starters, indoor living walls can help improve air quality by naturally removing carbon dioxide.
Living walls can also help insulate buildings by reducing temperatures from solar light. Likewise, studies have shown that these aesthetically-pleasing vertical gardens can prevent more than 30% of heat loss in a building during colder months.
6. Host Eco-Focused Volunteer Days
An excellent way to get your employees excited about your sustainability initiatives is by hosting company-wide volunteer days.
During a weekday or over the weekend, invite employees to participate in cleaning up the neighborhood, whether it’s at a park or a nearby beach.
You might also organize a day to help construct community gardens, delivering an organic food supply to those who may be food insecure.
Other benefits of community gardens include:
- Beautifying and revitalizing industrial neighborhoods.
- Decreasing neighborhood violence.
- Absorbing harmful runoff pollutants from the streets.
Ask your employees’ input on what sort of environmental volunteer activities they’re most interested in doing. You may get some great ideas that will help promote team-building in your company, as well.
7. Develop a Recycling Program
If you’re not currently recycling in your company, you should consider starting. Make sure you add separate recycling bins in common areas and individual offices and cubicles.
According to a Lightspeed study commissioned by Rubbermaid Commercial Products (RCP), 62% of millennials vowed to recycle more if their employers provided them with more access points.
Part of the problem may be that not everyone knows what’s considered recyclable. Do your team a favor and hang signs that tell them precisely what belongs and doesn’t belong in the blue and green bins. It will make them feel more confident in partaking in your company’s recycling program.
Furthermore, find other ways your company can recycle products, from purchasing recyclable materials and furniture to encouraging employees to print on both sides of the paper.
Be a Leader in Sustainable Business
Building a green business model cannot be achieved by one person alone. It requires everyone’s involvement, knowledge, and drive.
However, as a business leader, it is your responsibility to foster a green mindset in your company and demonstrate your commitment to greater sustainability in the workplace.
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About the author
Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.