The world needs us. It needs businesses, both large and small, that are working to take care of the planet. Customers and clients appreciate when businesses make an effort to be environmentally friendly. It doesn’t take much to make small changes at your business to reduce your environmental impact.
One impactful change that helps the environment is telecommuting. With computers being the focal point of many businesses, employers and employees have realized they can work from home and still be productive. In fact, in a study published in 2012 by Energy Policy, researchers found that telecommuters in Ireland saved an average of 9.33 kWh per day. They also found that people who work from home helped reduce energy usage and vehicle emissions.
If you are worried about the productivity of your workers if they work from home, have no fear. Harvard Business Review published a report that people who work from home are more productive than if they work from a dedicated office space. The benefits of working at home were numerous as employees:
- Began work earlier
- Continued working later into the day
- Took fewer breaks
- Had no commute
- Took fewer sick days
- Were not distracted by the noise of the office
- Were 33% more productive
With telecommuting, you get a double bonus of having more productive employees who also have less of an impact on the environment if they work from home.
Provide Reusable Swag
Another simple way to have less of an environmental impact is give your employees “swag.”
- Instead of having paper cups or foam cups for coffee, give your employees reusable coffee mugs.
- Install a water bottle filling station and give your employees water bottles so they do not have to use plastic water bottles.
- Give them tote bags so they do not have to use plastic bags.
Be sure to emblazon the company name on the swag! Think of the things your employees use and see what you can reuse. Your employees will appreciate the free gear and your name will be exposed to everyone who sees the eco-friendly items.
Consider the company ChicoBag out of Chico, California. This small business is taking reusable bags to a new standard. Their Pay It Forward Program asks everyone to send any reusable bag to them so they can repurpose it, recycle it, or send it to low-income families who want to use reusable bags. Their address is: ChicoBag Company, c/o Zero Waste Program, 747 Fortress Street, Chico, CA 95973.
According to Lafayette College, “1.5 million barrels (about 910 million gallons) of oil are used annually in the production of plastic bottles.” And, those numbers are only for plastic bottle production for the United States alone. Instead of using all of that oil to produce plastic bottles, it could be used elsewhere. Since fossil fuels, like oil, are in limited supply, using it for plastic water bottles is wasteful.
Reduce Electricity Use
When and how you plug in can also help the environment. In too many offices and homes, lights are left on when no one is in a room. It’s a simple fix – just turn off the light when no one is using a room. You don’t have to sit in the dark, but making a concerted effort to turn off lights can help reduce your business’s environmental footprint.
It is also helpful to only plug in appliances when you plan to use them. Mount Holyoke College released a report about common myths relating to energy use. Small appliances like TVs, microwaves, and coffee makers use a small amount of power even when they are “off” – but they cannot use any when they are unplugged. Small appliances left plugged in when not in use consumed the yearly production of 12 power plants in the United States. So, unplug the appliances in the break room when they are not being in use.
We only have one planet and it is up to each of us to do what is in our power to make it last for generations. These simple steps can make your small business more energy efficient and it can even save you a little money along the way.