Corporate Sustainability is a hot buzzword in business today. We typically think of corporate sustainability as it relates to mega-companies like Apple, which is notorious for its commitment to environmentally-friendly manufacturing practices. But sustainability starts with small businesses, which have the opportunity to set the standard before growing into a larger corporation.
These companies aren't just adopting greener practices out of pressure from environmental activists or for the sole benefit of the planet. Instead, many business owners predict a sharp change in the economy to support corporate sustainability, and are adapting with the times to stay ahead of the curve.
If you're a small business owner and want to start your company on the right path, look to these methods for fast, efficient sustainability to make your business stronger and greener for the long haul.
Death to Printing
Office printing wastes a ton of paper and everyone knows it. But knowledge of an issue and executing its solution are two different things. The best way to eliminate a weed is to pull it by the roots before it gets out of hand. Some printing will always be necessary, but there are a few ways to cut the weeds in the office.
- Require two-sided printing (IT can make this the default option).
- Offer email education by helping your employees learn the tips and tricks of email clients like Microsoft Office, so they don't default to printing emails or other memos.
- Equip conference rooms with projectors and avoid printing meeting agendas.
- Encourage laptops and tablets in meetings, so printed materials can be eliminated entirely.
Many offices encourage it, but few actually reward it. A recent study found that 78 percent of Americans drive solo to work. The number of gallons of gas saved by carpooling is already more than 85 million per year, and your company can do its part to help boost that number even further.
- Give carpooling vehicles the best parking spots in the lot (even better than managers).
- Enter everyone who carpools at least once per week into a bonus lottery that awards cash or prizes at the end of each month.
- Offer carpoolers special work hours that give more flexibility.
- Offer a small annual bonus to employees who carpool at least once per week for an entire year.
Supporting local supply chains doesn't just help the local economy, it helps reduce carbon emissions associated with shipping and transportation. Local suppliers might not be the cheapest option on Day One, but they will surely be more willing to work with businesses who keep long-standing business relationships.
The price of solar panels have dropped dramatically over the past five years, and their efficiency is constantly on the rise. Companies that invest in solar technology enjoy lower electricity costs as well as both federal and state tax benefits.
Recently Tesla Motors announced Powerwall, a 10kWh battery for the home or business than can store solar energy for uses during peak periods. This is just another way the economy is leaning in favor of better sustainability.
It's much easier to start better practices as a small business and let them evolve as your company grows. A large corporation can still reduce printing, award carpooling, buy local when possible and use solar energy, if it's committed to corporate sustainability. But the biggest advantage of starting young is that sustainability will be baked into your company culture, and it will be easier to start new eco-friendly measures in the future.
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