Reducing the environmental footprint of your business can seem like a huge task, but going green doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Unless you're creating your Colorado Springs business from the ground up, incremental changes are probably the best way to turn bad habits into good ones. Employees are more likely to embrace change if you don't demand a list of new rules. Every change you make reduces your footprint. Try one each month to increasingly work leaner and greener.
Use Digital Documents
Instead of printing out paperwork and mailing it to clients or customers, do the work online and save yourself a step as well as some money. Use Adobe Acrobat to digitally sign documents, file them away on thumb drives and in the cloud, and make digital backups on external thumb drives. Instead of using paper invoices, send email versions using PayPal, Fresh Books, or some other accounting invoicing software.
Kill the Vampires
Computers, coffee makers, and cell phone chargers continue to draw power while plugged in, even if they're not being used. These “energy vampires” can add up to a significant portion of your power bill. A sleeping computer uses as much power as one you're using during the work day. Make a habit of unplugging all electrical devices and appliances before going home for the day. Using power strips makes this an easier job by combining multiple appliances on one central plug. If you haven’t already, it may also be an idea to get your electrical panels, wiring and other elements inspected and tested. Faulty electrics are not just a safety hazard, it can also cost money in fried appliances or equipment!
If you're in the market for new business equipment, check out Freecycle in your area to see if anyone's giving away equipment that you can use. Many businesses list used and unneeded equipment on this site, simply to make room in their business. Check local businesses to find out if you can create a barter group in the neighborhood. By trading goods and services instead of buying new, you're saving both manufacturing costs and the impact of shipping goods across the country.
Newer LED bulbs only use about a tenth the power of incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. Change out the bulbs in your ceiling lights, task lighting, and even your outdoor lights. By changing your bulbs and putting them on a timer, you'll reduce your power usage by a surprising amount. Since lighting is usually the largest percentage of your power usage, new bulbs are the smartest investment you can make, green-wise. If you want to make any big changes to the lighting in your building, be sure to hire a licensed electrician to avoid costly problems.
People usually think of electrical power when they talk about their environmental footprint, but water conservancy is an important part, too. Check your plumbing lines to make sure you don't have any leaks. Replace any pipes or faucets that leak. Install low-flow aerators on your faucets to reduce the amount of water flowing at any one time. Institute a water conservancy policy at work: ban running water while cooking, encourage sensible usage, use mops and buckets instead of spraying kitchen floors at the end of the night.
Make it easy on your employees to get involved with a recycling program. Put recycling bins near every trash can so it's conveniently obvious. Place paper recycling boxes under every desk. Consider adding a worm compost bin outside the back door if you have a lot of food waste, even if it's just everyone's lunch leftovers. Refill printer cartridges instead of throwing them away and reusing them. If you have a drop-in pod coffeemaker, use the refillable cartridges instead of wasteful single-use types.