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Can Yours Be a Green Business and Still Succeed?

September 24, 2022
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You’ve most likely heard the term green business several times over the years. But what does it really take to create the kind of business that could be the star of the next Earth Day?

Can such a business survive, during the times of the pandemic, the Great Resignation, and inflation—or maybe stagflation or a recession?

Or is the idea of being a green business too much of a luxury to be sustainable right now?

With the growing number of green business programs and green business certification options, there are a lot of opportunities. The problem is typically cost.

Business Ecology

Yet, there’s more than one way a business can embrace sustainability. It’s not necessary to participate in a formal green business program.

Your very business practices can help or hurt the earth just as much as they can help or hurt your community.

Because we spend a good third of our lives at work, business sustainability practices can play a crucial role in preserving the environment. If businesses will lead the way, perhaps the rest of the community they are a part of will follow.

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Use Less Energy

How can businesses use less energy? There are solutions for businesses looking to do just that. In most industries, sharing space or putting off manufacturing until the items are sold or are about to be sold to customers can make a huge difference.

For example, waiting to manufacture goods means less time in a warehouse, which means less energy needed for storage facilities.

Print on demand services in publishing work exactly this way. In the publishing community, often a book isn’t printed unless it is just about ready to go out the door.

That means there is no need for a temperature controlled facility that sucks up megawatts of energy to store stacks of books.

Apart from helping the planet, this solution also helps businesses cut energy costs. Less energy used is less money spent by the company.

Change the Office Environment

This involves more than turning down the heat or turning up the air conditioning.

Rethink the Dress Code

If people can wear more in the winter and less in the summer (within reason), then they’ll be better able to tolerate temperature fluctuations in the office environment. Employees will likely consider this a huge benefit to working at your company.

A side benefit is this will probably save your company money by allowing you to adjust the norm on the thermostat a few degrees either way.

Clear the Air with Plants

Many offices are a great place for plants. They make for a more healthy ecosystem for customers and employees alike. We all know that having plants around helps to keep the air cleaner, which is in turn healthier for everyone.

But, this study from ScienceDaily shows that the benefits go far beyond cleaner air. When plants are added to a workspace, people are both happier and more productive it seems. These are obvious benefits, but there’s more.

Plants can also help prevent employees from suffering from sick building syndrome. This is, of course, a benefit to both employees and employers alike. Happy, healthy employees that are more productive will mean less turnover, more productivity, and higher efficiency.

This makes for a much improved work community for a company, and of course, saves money.

Office? Who Needs an Office?

Working from home has numerous benefits for the environment. For example, for every person that works from home there is one less car on the road. Fewer cars on the road means fewer pollutants that can cause climate change.

Who Needs Business Trips, For That Matter?

One thing the pandemic has taught many businesses is that the so-called importance of in-person meetings may have been a bit overrated.

And while sometimes you do need to meet, the truth is, you can probably get just as much done via an online network and through meeting software like Zoom.

Other Telecommute Resources

In addition to Zoom, there are a number of other resources available in today’s post-pandemic world that are conducive to working from home and reducing waste.

Some of these resources include:
  • Email
  • Slack
  • DocuSign
  • Google Workspace
  • And more!

With these types of resources on deck, all communication and even document signing can be done without a first drop of ink, piece of paper, or fume of gasoline being consumed.

And if You Must Have an Office Building…

… why not look for one which is committed to helping the planet? A virtual office can be a great solution.

A virtual office is less expensive than renting office space, and because you aren’t using the space all the time, you’re contributing to energy savings along with others who use the building. 

According to Wikipedia: “A virtual office is part of the flexible workspace industry that provides businesses with any combination of services, space and/or technology, without those businesses bearing the capital expenses of owning or leasing a traditional office.”

This option allows you to have a city address and access to a workspace when you need it. Some even offer access to conference rooms and receptionists.

Here are some options for virtual office providers.

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Regus
Regus offers:
  • Meeting rooms
  • Drop-in business lounges where you can work if you have a long layover during travel
  • A membership plan
  • Mail forwarding and handling

Options from Regus include furnished offices with high-speed internet. These can be co-working spaces or window offices or interior. 

Alliance Virtual Offices

Alliance offers:
  • A live receptionist 
  • Meeting rooms
  • An office address
  • Optional mail forwarding from Alliance Virtual Offices
  • Local or toll-free business number
  • Unlimited local and long distancing calling
  • Voicemail by email, custom greetings, an online control panel, etc.
Davinci
Davinci offers:
  • Live receptionists for hire
  • Live web chat services
  • Davinci meeting rooms
  • Event spaces

Create Less Business Waste

One piece of business sustainability is what you do with waste. Do you embrace recycling programs? What about your old electronics? Do you donate them to the community or maybe to a school? There are a lot of options. 

Plastic Bags

If yours is a retail business, what sorts of bags do you provide to your customers? Do you sell reusable bags? And if you absolutely must use plastic bags, then are they composed (at least in part) of sustainable materials? Do you offer customers a way to recycle them?

Print Less

Do you really need all that paper? Be honest. Regardless, using recycled paper and taking advantage of ink refill programs, along with printing less, can go a long way. Both offer benefits to the environment, and every little bit helps.

Become More Eco Friendly by Reusing Equipment and Computers

Second hand office equipment and computers can often be just as good as brand-new versions of either. Always look for durable construction and inspect these items closely before purchasing.

Is there a local business organization with recycling and furniture or computer exchange programs? If there isn’t, then why not work with your local business network to start one?

More Quick Tips to Save the Earth

Becoming a more eco friendly business doesn’t have to mean big changes all at once. Several small changes over time can make big differences. For example:

  • As light bulbs go out, replace them with LEDs.
  • Install motion sensors on lights.
  • Try reusable mugs and utensils in the break room over disposables.
  • Place a compost box for scraps and use it for all the plants you’re adding to the office.

It also helps to only work with vendors that offer sustainable materials. For example, green cleaning products can have a big impact.

These are just a few examples. There are a lot more things anyone can do to be more eco friendly.

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Can You Build Business Credit and Help the Earth?

Many of the starter vendors you can work with to help build business credit can also help support your efforts to be green.

Often you can purchase products made from recycled materials, and some even offer recycling bins to help make your own processes easier.

Furthermore, by using gas cards that are accepted at multiple locations, you can reduce the amount of driving you must do to get gasoline. Take WEX fleet cards for example. They are accepted at around 90% of all gas stations.

Every Day Can be Earth Day

Running a business is hard, and often slowing down long enough to focus on things like being “green” can seem like a pipe dream. However, if you make small changes in your daily business practices, it is more than possible. 

About the author 

Faith Stewart

Faith has a BBA with a major in Accounting, and a combined 20 years of experience in the fields of finance and account.

Before switching to writing, she spent 10 years working in various areas of small business and personal finance and accounting, including working as a public auditor at BKD, LLP, Financial Director at Central Arkansas Development Council, and Commercial Credit Analyst at Farmer's Bank and Trust.

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