3 Simple and Cost-Effective Ways Small Businesses Can Be Greener
May 23, 2016
By: Kelly Spors
There are many misperceptions about “going green.” Among them, business owners might think eco-conscious alternatives are expensive and not worth the price.
In reality, many eco-conscious moves bolster a company’s bottom line, says Yalmaz Siddiqui, Senior Director of Sustainability for Office Depot. “There’s growing awareness among mainstream businesses that being a green business doesn’t have to be daunting or expensive,” he says.
Of course, every greener option upgrade has a different financial payback — so it’s important for businesses to assess which steps will make the biggest impact. For example, a restaurant might find it can save big by installing water-saving equipment in the kitchen — while a trucking company, which might not use much water, may find reducing fuel usage is its biggest opportunity.
Still have incandescent lights or even more-efficient carbon fluorescent lights (CFLs)? Now is a good time to consider upgrading to LED lights.
They use about one-tenth the energy of traditional incandescent bulbs, and their price has fallen significantly in recent years. Some utility companies even offer attractive rebates to businesses that install them.
The savings? It depends on whether you can get a rebate and how much you pay for electricity. But Siddiqui says he’s seen lighting upgrades that have paid for themselves in a matter of months. One business he knows of spent $25,000 on an LED upgrade but saw $250,000 in savings — a 1,000% ROI — in five years.
“If you shop around and do a price comparison, you will probably discover some surprises,” Siddiqui says. “There are a lot of product categories where the greenest are the cheapest.”
3. Changing behaviors by setting an example
The lowest-hanging fruit — those actions with often the fastest payback — are behavioral changes. That means teaching employees to make greener choices such as turning off lights and equipment when they’re not using them, recycling (which may reduce waste removal and landfill costs), and not wasting office supplies.
The companies that instill behavior changes most effectively, Siddiqui says, are those with company leaders who model the desired behaviors themselves. “When a company leader models thrift, that is an environmental choice, and employees are more likely to follow suit,” he says.
The real bottom line: Being a “green business” doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition — and in fact, nowadays it can even save you a lot of greenbacks.
About the Author
Kelly Spors is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. She previously worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering small business and entrepreneurship.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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