Your Business

5 Easy Ways to Green Your Business for Earth Day

By Rieva Lesonsky

On April 22 more than 1 billion people worldwide will celebrate the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. It’s also a great time to educate your customers and employees about how to reduce your global footprint and practice good conservation habits. And you can show your support for the green movement by pledging “An Act of Green” and taking steps to back it up.

Here are a few ways your small business can go green:

  1. Do a green audit: Are you using energy-efficient light bulbs in your business? Does your technology equipment, such as computers, monitors, cordless phones and you audio/video gear, have the Energy Star symbol? Could your business go solar? Getting your energy from solar panels not only decreases your utility bills, but may also qualify you for a business energy investment tax credit.
  2. Move to the cloud: Cloud services vendors usually tout the convenience and ease of keeping your data and shareable files in the cloud, but that’s not the cloud’s only advantage. A study by Microsoft and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI)revealed that when cloud-computing technologies become more widespread, the computer industry’s greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by a whopping 95 percent. If you pledge to switch your systems to a cloud infrastructure (which can be updated centrally, also saving you money on costly individual updates), you’ll significantly reduce the environmental impact of your company’s IT needs.
  3. Bag the plastic: If your city hasn’t initiated a ban on retailers using plastic bags yet, you can bet it will happen eventually. Late last year, California became the first state to outlaw plastic grocery bags, and retailers in many cities across the U.S. are already charging customers a fee if they want plastic bags. Even if the law doesn’t yet apply in your area, selling affordable reusable bags imprinted with your business logo not only helps the environment, but is a good marketing tactic for your business as well.
  4. Recycle toner cartridges: As much as we strive to create a paperless office, most businesses find it impossible to significantly reduce their printing activities. But you can still protect the environment by buying recycled toner cartridges and getting them refilled instead of buying new ones.
  5. Use tap water, not bottled: You may think bottled water is healthier, but according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, FDA rules for bottled water are generally less strict than the regulations for tap water. What’s more, only 5 to 10 percent of plastics in the U.S. are recycled, while the rest end up in landfills and our oceans. Think twice before supplying bottled water for the office; instead, invest in reusable water bottles or cups with your company logo for employees and guests to use for tap water.

These are just a few ideas you can employ to get your business on the green track. Get employees, and customers involved, too, by putting up a suggestion board to gather more ideas you can put into action.

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