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How Green is Your Small Business?

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How Green is Your Small Business?

I was recently on holiday and stayed at a beautiful hotel in Northern Queensland where it seemed the hotelier had thought of everything to make our stay perfect. From a beautifully scented oil burner lit in our room on arrival, to the spa on and bubbling away, it was truly gorgeous. But one thing I really couldn’t understand was why there was absolutely no sign of a recycling bin anywhere.

All waste was collected daily, combining general waste and all recyclable materials and sent off to landfill. To a lot of people, what I am talking about might seem menial and irrelevant, but it is interesting that among all the amazing things I remember about that holiday, the lack of environmental consideration demonstrated by the hotel is, unfortunately, something I haven’t forgotten.

Whether you’re a one-person enterprise or your business employs 50 or more people, you will most likely want your customers to view your business in a positive regard. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to implement some very achievable and affordable environmental initiatives.

What do you want to be known for? What do you want people to remember you for? How do you want to be perceived when it comes to caring for the planet? Showing care for the environment we live in really does translate to being responsible, and demonstrating responsibility generates trust among those around us. It seems to me to be a very easy way to connect with your customers in a positive way when you share this kind of consideration.

Often known as ‘low hanging fruit’, here are 10 easy and inexpensive ways to reduce your business costs and improve environmental sustainability in your business and with your customers.

  1. Consider an energy audit where someone comes out to your office and seals all the leaks and cracks. This can generate significant savings on your energy bills.
  2. Install sensor lights in your meeting rooms or office space so that the energy-consuming lights are not unnecessarily on if the space is not in use.
  3. Make sure the lights you have fitted in your office space are energy savers. These days you can find great low wattage bulbs that don’t mean you have to sacrifice lighting quality.
  4. Can you sign up to 20% renewable energy with your provider? It doesn’t cost much more but will have a significant impact in reducing dirty coal use if all business owners do it.
  5. Purchase fair trade tea and coffee for the kitchen. It doesn’t cost much more and is a very easy way to consider all elements of the supply chain. It sends a clear message to staff as well.
  6. Become a wise water organisation. Make sure taps are leak-free and use waterless urinals if you can.
  7. Change your copy paper and notepads to recycled material. It’s very affordable these days, and you could even place a sign near the copier reminding staff of the environmental impacts of printing to help reduce waste and unnecessary print runs.
  8. Change all your cleaning products to an earth friendly brand. The quality of these products is far better now than it used to be.
  9. Set your heating and cooling in the office to a range that is ideal for comfort and productivity. This is often around 21 degrees. However, if you set a temperature band which is 19-23 it means the heater won’t come on until the temperature drops below 19 and the air conditioner won’t come on until the temperature rises above 23 degrees. I think we can all put on an extra layer if it’s a bit cooler, or take one off if it gets too warm without too much hassle.
  10. Sponsor a local environmental group. This could either be in the form of donations, or you could volunteer your time and the time of your team, to get out and do a litter clean up once every few months, or something similar. These types of initiatives can be wonderful for team building and morale too.

And after you’ve had a go at implementing some of these strategies, don’t forget to let your customers know about them. Apart from the fact that you will almost certainly save money in the long run, you will improve the way your customers see you in business and ultimately lead to building more trust within your tribe.

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