There are a number of phrases that small business owners hear on a regular basis that all circle back to the idea of sustainability.
From “going green” to having a”clean office,” everyone is more mindful of the impact our work has on the world around us. Whether you use the word green or clean or have concerns about your office’s footprint, there is a lot to consider.
As you start thinking ahead to 2014, why not examine a few ways your business being more environmentally friendly?
How can you “go green” as a business?
Affecting change in your business is important, but there’s more to it than trying to use less paper. Here are five easy steps you need to consider when putting together a sustainability plan:
- What is your baseline?
You’ll need to have a solid understanding of the energy required to run your business before taking steps to minimize the future use. What percentage of used paper is being appropriately recycled? How often are lights getting turned off at night? How much water is the business using in an average month? These are all questions to consider when establishing your businesses regular environmental impact.
- Where are opportunities?
Once you have an understanding of how much your business is using, take a step back and consider some ways to minimize your exposure. Most energy companies have resources available to help understand usage, while some more obvious internal remedies – using less paper and water, turning off lights, shutting off computers – can be considered.
- How to implement the plan?
Once you establish goals such as “use less paper,” it’s important to qualify the necessary steps to achieve the specific goal. Does this mean more recycle areas? More reminders around the office? Will your business commit to buying more recycled products as well? The more specific the goal(s), the more easily they can be attained.
- When will the plan be in place?
Deadlines are critical for any plan to have accountability. If your broad goal is to use 30 percent less paper in 2014, perhaps a more specific goal is to have signs posted in the office by the end of December, and to have the office exclusively using recycled paper by the middle of June. Depending on the size of your company, assigning individuals responsible for each goal/task could also help.
- Revise the plan!
Even the best plans need to be updated. As your business grows, so will the consumption of the overall company. Being able to evolve your plan with the growth of your business will help you stay on top of your expenses and continue being friendly to the environment.
In March 2012, the U.S. Small Business Administration produced a “Small Businesses, Clean Energy and Green Jobs” Fact Sheet that outlined a number of areas where small businesses can seek assistance and industry-specific guidance. Part of their efforts include the creation of green.sba.gov, a joint effort with the Department of Navy to help more easily find opportunities for procurement, grants, contracts, research and development and patents through the federal government.
One way you can differentiate your business in a busy marketplace is by attaining Green Certification. This could allow you to “ecolabel” your products, as well as open up new business opportunities with private and public organizations.