Taking Better Care of Business
4 simple ways to make your workplace more environmentally friendly
It’s estimated that there are between 18 and 33 million businesses in the US alone! That’s a huge number, and it presents a great opportunity for small changes with big impact. You don’t have to be the CEO to make changes in your workplace. If you’re one of the 128 million full-time employees working in one of those businesses, here are 4 easy ways you can make your office greener, and maybe even a little more cost-efficient.
1. Switch to post-consumer waste (PCW) paper
Even in today’s digital age, printing is a necessary part of business. If you have an office printer, make sure you’re using eco-friendly paper. A lot of paper suppliers slap a “recycled” icon on their paper packaging, but unfortunately it’s an unregulated label, and just because it says it’s recycled, doesn’t mean it’s your best option. Only PCW paper is made entirely from the paper we place in our recycling bins each day. PCW paper production requires 45% less energy, and creates half the waste of traditional paper. Purchasing products labeled as 100% PCW (or the highest percentage available from your supplier) ensures that you’re making the least impact. And, of course, don’t forget to recycle all your paper scraps, and keep the PCW circle going!
2. Use biodegradable cleaners
Using natural, biodegradable cleaning products not only reduces the introduction of these substances into the environment, it also reduces your (and your coworkers’) exposure to harsh toxins and other chemicals. Next time your office runs low on hand soap, dishwasher detergent, surface cleaner, or window spray, recommend swapping in a green option. Many stores sell green products in bulk, making them comparable in price to traditional products.
3. Use Compact-Fluorescent (CFL) or LED lights
Though CFL and LED lights are more expensive to buy than standard incandescent bulbs, they last significantly longer, and use much less energy, making them cost-effective in the long run. CFL and LED bulbs can replace standard bulbs in most fixtures and can save up to $200 per bulb over their lifetime! Try mentioning that bit of information to your boss or Office Manager, and they’ll see the investment in a whole new light.
4. Shrink your carbon footprint, with the Green Lights program
Clark Public Utilities has teamed up with the nonprofit Bonneville Environmental Foundation to create Green Lights. It’s a program that generates wind, solar and other forms of clean, renewable power in our region to displace environmentally harmful power sources. Each 100 kWh block of Green Lights costs $1; start small, or enroll all the way up to 100 percent of your business’ electrical usage. The cost is simply added to your electric bill each month. Green Lights is a great way for businesses to start going green, and to demonstrate their commitment to environmental responsibility.
If your company is interested in becoming completely carbon neutral, check out our online calculator, to estimate how many Green Lights blocks you would need based on your electric usage.
By following these simple tips, and making some small changes in your workday, your business can potentially cut thousands of dollars in operational costs, and become more attractive to eco-conscious customers. No matter which steps you decide to take, make sure to tell your customers about what you are doing! Create an environmental mission statement or green practices section of your website, include badges or certificates you’ve earned, and talk with the people in your community. They’ll thank you for it!