Establishing a greener workplace is not a once-a-year objective that small business owners revisit each Earth Day. Running an environmentally conscious business involves establishing a strategy and companywide goals to protect the planet all year long.
The change of seasons and arrival of fall is the perfect time to refocus on why sustainability matters and reconsider some of the ways small businesses can lighten their ecological footprint, foster a healthier place to work, and improve their bottom line.
The Benefits of Going Green
“Going green” is when a company makes a concerted effort to reduce its negative environmental impact. These efforts can range from reducing utility costs or launching recycling and reuse programs to buying green products and services.
You don’t have to be a multi-million-dollar company to afford to implement sustainability measures. Businesses of all sizes can reap the benefits of going green, such as:
- Saving Money: Energy efficiency and waste reduction result in cost savings. Simply replacing regular light bulbs with alternatives can reduce lighting energy costs by 75%.
- Increasing Revenue: A Nielsen study of consumer attitudes across 60 countries found that 55% of consumers worldwide would pay a premium for products offered by eco-friendly and socially responsible companies. Sales figures support these consumer claims.
- Boosting Employee Loyalty: Companies with a better environmental record have more committed, motivated employees. Employees who work for green businesses feel safer and believe their health is a priority. Involving staff in company-wide green initiatives boosts morale and can help reduce turnover. Study after study shows that employees are generally more satisfied with their jobs when their leaders are genuinely interested in creating a supportive work environment.
- Building Community Goodwill: Environmental initiatives outside of your workplace, such as contributing to the upkeep of your immediate surroundings or donating to local projects, creates a positive perception of your business in the community. According to the Network for Business Stability, sales grow by $6 for every dollar donated by a company towards green initiatives.
Many small business owners use working capital funding to cover the costs of upgrading their facilities and improving processes. Summit Financial Resources can mix and match from a variety of product options, including invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing. Because working capital loans can be used for any business expense, you can invest in more energy-efficient computers or employee incentives to reduce waste and reap the benefits now.
Tips for Greening Your Workplace this Fall
There are countless ways your small business can show respect for the environment and conserve its natural resources. Reducing the amount of resources you and your business consume will go a long way towards conserving non-renewable resources, and the options are virtually endless. Here are some of the most common areas where small businesses can make quick and easy changes to reduce, recycle, and/or reuse:
When buying paper products, look for recycled paper with a high percentage of post-consumer waste content (PCW). Recycled paper processing still uses a great deal of energy, water, and chemical resources. Making PCW recycled paper uses 45% less energy and creates half the waste of the traditional papermaking process. Look for products labeled as 100% PCW or those with as much PCW content as possible.
Office & Cleaning Supplies
“Green” options include pens and pencils made of recycled materials and refillable (versus disposable) pens and markers. Recycling printer cartridges is often free, and recycled replacements can be less expensive than new ones.
The institutional cleaning industry uses five billion pounds of chemicals each year. Using biodegradable soaps in the bathroom and kitchen and providing non-toxic, biodegradable cleaners for custodial staff is far more earth-friendly. These products lower your staff’s exposure to harsh toxins and other chemicals as well as reduce the introduction of these substances into the environment. Buy in bulk to reduce shipping and packaging waste.
Lighting accounts for 21% of our daily energy consumption. Switching from incandescent lights to CFL or LED lights can reduce replacement costs and lower your energy bills simultaneously. Although CFL and LED lights have a higher purchase price than standard incandescent bulbs, they last significantly longer, use less energy, and can save you up to $200 per bulb over time.
If you are designing a new space for your small business, maximize the use of natural light. Consider incorporating large windows, skylights, and glass doors to reduce your dependence on artificial lighting. Not only is natural daylight free, it has been proven to improve worker productivity and satisfaction as well as boost sales in retail settings.
Keeping your surplus electronic equipment out of the landfill is a great way to help the environment. According to the Electronics Take Back Coalition, over two million tons of E-waste is disposed of every year in the U.S., and only 27% is recycled.
If your small business is replacing electronic items such as computers, monitors, tablets, or microwaves, they may be put to good use by area schools or charities. You might also look into recycling or trade-in programs offered by computer manufacturers and large electronics retailers.
Cafeteria or Break Room
Replace plastic or paper drinking cups with reusable china mugs. Encourage employees to bring their own reusable cups, plates, utensils, and napkins and to use refillable water bottles instead of buying plastic bottles of water.
Bringing lunch in reusable containers is likely the greenest way to eat at work. Reusable lunchboxes cut down on waste in a big way, while delivery and takeout tend to generate plenty of packaging waste. If you or your staff do order lunch, placing one large order is more efficient than numerous individual ones.
In addition to recycling everything that can be recycled, think green when buying or replacing items. For example, you can extend the life of pre-owned products by purchasing used office furniture or equipment and save money by getting them at a fraction of the cost of new items. When searching for deals on used items, explore options such as auctions, liquidation sales, garage sales, and reputable online sites.
Making your business more environmentally friendly does not have to be complicated or expensive. Whether you go paperless or switch to energy efficient lighting, renewing your commitment to going green this fall can reduce costs, increase revenues, and improve relationships with your employees and the community.
Working Capital Financing is a few clicks away.
Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.