Reducing your carbon footprint as one person is much easier than trying to form a plan for an entire company to go green. But if it is something the employees or management really care about, there are simple policies that can be made or behavior changes that can be encouraged. It all depends on what kind of company you want to be.
Believe it or not, some of these changes can help reduce waste, save money, and contribute to a better planet. Here are a few things that I have helped institute at the company I work for, and I recommend you do the same:
- Print as little as possible. Don’t print out minutes for every meeting, they just end up in recycling bins. Email instead of faxing (which creates two copies). Electronic memos are just as good as physical memos. People can print them if they decide they want a copy. You’ll spend less on paper, ink, and toner. You’ll also spend less time filing and copying, too.
- Buy smarter. First, to cut down on shipping, try to time it so you buy several products at once, not just when you are out of one thing. Or switch to an order-online, pickup in store service. Second, buy things that are environmentally-friendly: pens made from recycled materials, paper that has a PCW (post-consumer waste) designation, and biodegradable cleaners.
- With your landlord’s approval, have an energy audit done on the building. They may recommend all kinds of things that aren’t feasible (like new windows or insulation), but the building owner might go for it. They’ll also make recommendations on more energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs, and those might be easy changes you can make.
- Offer your employees incentives to use public transportation, provide designated spots for electric or hybrid vehicles, and add bicycle racks to the parking lot. We let employees submit their bus or train pass receipts and match up to a certain amount. Everyone likes the program – the employees because it is less wear and tear on their car and they don’t have to drive in traffic, and the company has less incidents in the parking lot (thefts, fender benders, complaints about lack of parking, wear on the asphalt, etc).
- Power down! This is a big one. There are plenty of things that can be shut off at night when there is nobody at work. From lights to computers to the coffee maker, not everything needs to be drawing power 100% of the time. Add power strips so employees can turn off everything at their desk simultaneously, and have managers turn off the lights in their offices and common areas when they leave.
Some bigger companies have been able to be energy-neutral, meaning that they create enough energy through wind or solar to match what they consume. That can be a tall order for a small company, especially those who can’t add solar panels because they don’t own their building. Being more energy efficient will still help, and you can always contact your energy company about purchasing Renewable Energy Credits, so that you’re buying someone else’s excess green energy instead!