Environment-Friendly Tips for Your Small Business

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TreeEco-friendly is no longer just a fad, it's quickly becoming a way of life for individuals and companies alike. Organizations that operate with protecting the environment in mind are winning favor with consumers, but that's not all. Companies such as IBM, S.C. Johnson and Xerox have saved hundreds of millions of dollars annually, thanks to environmental initiatives.

But, even small companies can benefit from eco-friendly efforts. Commitment to the environment can increase eco-conscious customer and client count. Add to that the operational costs you can cut from your budget, and you can see how going green can add some green to your bottom line. So where to start? Here's a list of eco-friendly tips that can help your business today:

Power Down your Energy Use
There are many ways your company can save power and cut your energy bill. Here are a few:

  • Buy energy-efficient equipment. Whenever you need to replace the microwave or purchase a new copier, look for an energy-efficient model. Also, LCD monitors use almost half the power of traditional models. The small extra cost for Energy Star® rated equipment will help you save up to 40-60% of operational costs, which adds up over the life of the appliances.
  • Use power strips correctly. Did you know that electronic devices still use power when they're turned off but remain plugged into an outlet? And you're paying for every second of idle power usage on your monthly electric bill. Make sure all your office's electronics are plugged into power strips, such as the Smart Strip. Then, create a policy of having all your office's power strips turned to off when you leave the office, and watch your electric bill decrease.
  • Replace burnt bulbs with a new model. Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs are another great way to save energy. These bulbs are four times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and they use 50-80% less energy. They may cost a little more, but they also last up to 10 times as long. And, over the lifetime of the bulb, using one CFL instead of an incandescent bulb will keep a half ton of CO2 from being emitted. Plus, research has shown that each CFL bulb you use can reduce your energy bill by up to $45 over a lifetime.

Be Tree Friendly
The average consumer uses four trees per month in paper products. The average office uses 1.5 pounds of paper per employee each day. You can save money and help the environment with these ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.

  • Go paperless when possible. When you can do billing electronically, why waste time and money on a paper-billing process? Consider implementing paperless processes wherever you can. This also saves processing and filing time, making more hours open for productivity. Also, don't print out every electronic document you have. Bookmark articles you want to read again or archive e-mails electronically for future reference.
  • Use printer mistakes for scratch paper. How many times have you accidentally printed 10 copies of a report instead of two? Rather than tossing these duplicates, cut them in half and use the backs as scratch paper. Not only will you save trees, you'll also cut the cost of buying blank notepads.
  • Put paper recycling bins at every desk. Most people will recycle when it's convenient, so make sure each employee has easy access to a receptacle for recycling.

Remember the Little Things
The small things add up – literally in landfills and also as line items on your bottom line. Here's how cutting back a little each day can help your office become greener and save cash:

  • Wash the dishes. It may be more convenient to use Styrofoam and paper cups, plates and disposable utensils, but it's really a waste of money and resources. Styrofoam and plastic utensils alike take hundreds of years to break down in landfills. Buy an inexpensive set of plates, bowls, glasses and silverware, and store them at your workplace. At a small office, these won't pile up too much, and it takes only a few minutes at the sink to clean your day's dishes.
  • Use fewer paper towels. A non-profit called These Come From Trees has recently swept the Internet with their simple stickers that encourage people to use fewer paper towels. Each sticker affixes to a paper towel dispenser and reads “Remember. . . These Come From Trees.” The organization's research shows the simple reminder helps save 100 pounds of paper each year per sticker.
  • Avoid bottled water. Bottled water sales are soaring. They reached $10.8 billion in 2006, according to the latest report by the International Bottled Water Association. However, other research has shown that most cities have higher water quality standards than bottled water companies. Install a water filter at your office and encourage employees to use it instead of shelling out thousands for bottled water.

Using these earth-friendly tips can help your business add dollars to the bottom line and operate a more energy and resource efficient workplace.

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