The great thing about starting a new business is that you get to make decisions and set everything up your way from the beginning. One option to consider is to incorporate green your business. Green solutions in business practices not only serve to protect the environment, but can save your company money. Here are some ideas to keep in mind while planning your startup.
Use the technology available to greatly reduce the amount of paper in your office. Keeping electronic copies of all records and documents not only saves a tree, but can improve efficiency and save on storage needs. Just be sure to utilize a backup system or two for all of your computer files. Most online data storage companies are pretty cheap and will automatically back up your computers on a regular basis. There are also external hard drives for backing up, but if something bad happens to your office, that device is likely to be destroyed, too. Communicate with vendors and customers by email and phone and set up your website to accept orders and payments.
Stock with Green Supplies
100% post-consumer recycled paper products can be found for anything from business cards to toilet paper. Green cleaning products are available, too, work just as well as the others, and will keep those toxins out of your office and the environment. Look for products that use grain alcohol for solvents, coconut or other plant oils in detergents and disinfectants, and rosemary or sage in antifungals (rather than butyl cellosolve, petroleum, and triclosan). Vistaprint and other printers offer a variety of recycled business paper products, and just check the labels at the office supply store for other green supplies. CleaningPro offers a full line of eco-friendly commercial cleaning products.
Make Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Part of the Culture
Provide recycling bins to collect plastics, paper, cardboard, and glass. Electronic media and equipment should be recycled as well. Most state governments provide information about business-friendly recycling programs in each state. Stock the breakroom with a soda fountain instead of cans and a water purifier instead of bottled water. Encourage employees to look for ways to reduce waste and reuse supplies, and set up a small reward system for good ideas that you implement.
Green the Space
Use low or no VOC paint for the walls, install compact fluorescent light bulbs, add aerators to every faucet. If you must remodel or build out the space yourself, look at eco-friendly wood floors or cork instead of carpet or nonsustainable wood. There are plenty of eco-friendly wood floor options that are of the same, if not better quality, as other engineered floors. Check out EcoXotics for a line of environmentally sound flooring.
Greening Your Business is Good for Business
Making the effort to green your business is a good idea for many reasons. In addition to doing your part to protect the environment, you can reduce overhead expenses dramatically…often up to one-third of energy and waste expenses in an office environment. In addition, your company’s focus on eco-friendly operations is another small boost in your marketing messages…people may not shop with you only because of your environmental awareness, but they will feel good about doing business with you because of your efforts. There are plenty of arguments for setting up your new business as eco-friendly, and no particularly good reasons not to, so incorporate these ideas (and any others you come across) into your startup planning.