Are You Green Enough? Strategies to Green Your New Business
One of the perks of starting your own business is the agency to control how the business is run. You set office standards and policies. During the company’s infancy, you will no doubt be too bogged down with simply keeping the company afloat. So to be concerned with formulating any concrete environmentally friendly policies may be more than you can handle.
Once your new company is stable, I would recommend spending a few hours evaluating where you can make minor changes to create a more eco-friendly company. Depending on how concerned you are with the overflowing landfills, global warming or the depleting ozone, you might be tempted to do a complete policy overhaul.
Not even big corporations like Coca Cola or Levi’s who have all made huge strides toward more sustainable business practices make overnight changes.
- In 2007, Coca Cola set a goal to return roughly 160 billion liters of water to the environment by 2020. In 2015, Coca Cola announced they were close to reaching those goals.
- In 2007, Levi’s worked with their engineers to conduct an apparel Life Cycle Assessment. It took Levi’s 5 years to create a new garment finishing process that reduced water consumption by up to 96%.
A savvy business owner knows to strategize and slowly introduce new changes to their business. Making your business more sustainable will do the world no good if the process puts you out of business.
Here’s what you should do as a new business owner hoping to transform your company into an environmentally friendly haven.
Conduct a simpler version of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
Life cycle assessment is a process designed to discover how your business or product affects the environment in every stage of production (from raw material mining to customer disposal).
LCA is a 4 step process:
- Identify purpose and the potential products or procedures being assessed.
- Calculate environmental inputs and outputs in each stage of production.
- Assess how the inputs and outputs affect human health and the environment.
- Evaluate opportunities to reduce waste, energy, materials used and environmental impacts.
Fully-fledged LCA’s can be complicated processes. They can require highly skilled engineers, mechanics, and product designers. As a small company, you just can’t afford to conduct a full, highly scientific LCA. I would suggest a slightly less ambitious LCA analysis:
- Identify company procedures, purchases, and habits where you might be a little more wasteful than you should be.
- Assess the degree of waste in each of the procedures.
- Evaluate how much it would cost to shift to slightly more eco-friendly strategies.
Still a tad lost on where to begin? I would suggest looking into these fairly common areas where many small businesses can improve.
Evaluate if there are any items you currently chuck into the garbage that can or should be recycled. Here are a few common items to get you started.
Once you know what you want to recycle, you can utilize Earth911’s handy dandy search engine. It’ll help you figure out where you need to drop off the items you want to recycle.
Energy Efficiency in the Office
There are always minor changes you can make to your office to gradually make it more efficient.
Here are a few strategies:
- Ensure all employees shut down their computers before they go home.
- Attach office break room equipment to a surge protector that you can flip off before heading home. Even when devices are not in use, many devices like microwaves and televisions have either lights or displays that always use a little bit of energy.
- Utilize natural light when possible instead of turning on the lights.
- As light bulbs die, replace them with energy efficient light bulbs.
Green Business is a Process More Than A Destination
Environmentally friendly workplaces and businesses can be a vital part of a more eco-friendly world. Don’t feel pressured to transform into a more environmentally conscious brand overnight. As a new business owner, you should make minor eco-friendly changes while periodically conducting assessments on where you can improve.
In the long run, you’ll enjoy a payoff for your company, your customers, and your world. So the rewards are just out there waiting for you to claim them!