3 Simple and Cost-Effective Ways Small Businesses Can Be Greener

on June 10, 2016

There are many misperceptions about “going green.” Among them, business owners might think eco-conscious alternatives are expensive and not worth the price.

In reality, many eco-conscious moves bolster a company’s bottom line, says Yalmaz Siddiqui, Senior Director of Sustainability for Office Depot. “There’s growing awareness among mainstream businesses that being a green business doesn’t have to be daunting or expensive,” he says.

Of course, every greener option upgrade has a different financial payback — so it’s important for businesses to assess which steps will make the biggest impact. For example, a restaurant might find it can save big by installing water-saving equipment in the kitchen — while a trucking company, which might not use much water, may find reducing fuel usage is its biggest opportunity.

Here are three common money-saving, greener choice business opportunities your business may be missing out on:

1. Installing energy-efficient lights

Still have incandescent lights or even more-efficient carbon fluorescent lights (CFLs)? Now is a good time to consider upgrading to LED lights.

They use about one-tenth the energy of traditional incandescent bulbs, and their price has fallen significantly in recent years. Some utility companies even offer attractive rebates to businesses that install them.

The savings? It depends on whether you can get a rebate and how much you pay for electricity. But Siddiqui says he’s seen lighting upgrades that have paid for themselves in a matter of months. One business he knows of spent $25,000 on an LED upgrade but saw $250,000 in savings — a 1,000% ROI — in five years.

2. Buying eco-conscious office supplies

Business owners often assume that greener office supplies cost more. The truth is that many types of supplies — such as remanufactured toner cartridges, refillable ink pens, and file folders made of 100% postconsumer recycled content — are both better for the environment and your bottom line.

“If you shop around and do a price comparison, you will probably discover some surprises,” Siddiqui says. “There are a lot of product categories where the greenest are the cheapest.”

3. Changing behaviors by setting an example

The lowest-hanging fruit — those actions with often the fastest payback — are behavioral changes. That means teaching employees to make greener choices such as turning off lights and equipment when they’re not using them, recycling (which may reduce waste removal and landfill costs), and not wasting office supplies.

The companies that instill behavior changes most effectively, Siddiqui says, are those with company leaders who model the desired behaviors themselves. “When a company leader models thrift, that is an environmental choice, and employees are more likely to follow suit,” he says. 

The real bottom line: Being a “green business” doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition — and in fact, nowadays it can even save you a lot of greenbacks.

About the Author

Kelly Spors is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. She previously worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering small business and entrepreneurship. 

Source: Office Depot