We hear so much about the environment. It would be easy to just tune it out completely, or decide that it sounds too expensive to make major changes in the way that we do business for the good of the planet.
Let’s face it, most of us don’t run a business simply to set a good example and ‘Go #green’, after all. We are in this for the money! But going greener really can make a positive difference, both to the environment AND to your profit margin. And it can be fun.
Many of us really do care about the environmental impact of our purchases, and feel better about buying from a business that claims to be environmentally friendly. Some (myself included) will spend a little more if it is clear that we are supporting a responsible company. Some of the simplest and most visible changes you can make to your business will send the message that you care about your carbon footprint. So go ahead and let the world know you’re an ethical company!
- Switching to recycled, unbleached printer paper is a quick and inexpensive way to make a statement. I’ve been using unbleached recycled paper from The Green Stationery Company for over a year now, and it prints well. The kids use it for homework and colouring, and they give it a thumbs up too. A note in the footer of your document to say “Printed on 100% Recycled Paper – We Care About our Planet” will make your point.
- You can set your printer settings to automatically print in ‘Draft’ or ‘Economical’. This uses much less ink, and is good for most purposes. When you need to make a better quality copy, simply change your preferences in the print popup. And while we’re on the subject of printing, did you know that many stationery companies will give you vouchers or discounts when you take your old ink cartridges to them for recycling? Make ‘Recycling’ bins, label them, and place them where they are sure to be used.
- Another great money-saving and ‘Green’ business tactic is one I call ‘#reuse and Refuse’. Whenever you think you need new supplies, office furniture or appliances, ask yourself whether you already have something that could do just as well. Perhaps there is a bookshelf that could begin a new life as an office storage unit, or a desk that only needs a coat of paint? Before you go on a grand shopping expedition for office supplies, have a clear out at home and see if you can’t find that hole punch (it must be somewhere) or the four half-boxes of staples at the bottom of the kids’ craft supplies. You could save hundreds of pounds in your start-up costs.
- Sign up the kids, or your creative friends, for a day of refurbishing old stuff. Cover boxes in fabric or paper to make attractive containers and filing cabinets. Buy a can of spray paint in the same colour as your company logo, and spray an old desk lamp, cash box or stapler in your company colour. (Tip: very light coat, wait until completely dry, then another very light coat. Otherwise you will end up with a drippy, streaky mess.) If you are really awesome, you can make a stencil of your logo to spray on to bags and other items. What a way to show innovation and make your business stand out!
- When you see attractive office stuff at 50% off, refuse to buy. Only purchase the items you truly need. And remember that every person in the office does not need one of everything. Many items can be kept in a central location and used by colleagues. But don’t try sharing your #home office supplies with the kids, or you’ll go mad searching under the bed and yelling “WHERE IS THE STAPLER?!?!” when you need to staple that critical document together.
- Lower your energy use and save money on your electricity bills by switching computers and printers off at the wall when your business day ends. Plugging your main computer, printer and anything else that is not needed overnight into one strip makes switching it all off at the wall easiest, and it’s a good way of signalling the end of our work day to those of us who find it hard to let go! Just make sure and save your work before flipping that switch.
- Some entrepreneurs go even further, and base their entire business on reusing and recycling. Crafts made from found items are quirky and fun, and make such cool gifts! I recently bought two funky light pulls for my cousin and her daughter from Sea Green of Appledore, made from a shiny old spoon and a piece of driftwood. Stores which sell crafty gifts are so inspiring, and can give you more ideas of things you can make or refurbish yourself. Wouldn’t it be great if your office were truly individual, a reflection of you, instead of looking like a generic plastic-filled office straight out of a supply catalogue? I love that my battered desk used to belong to my grandmother, who was also a writer. I love using old cases and boxes for storing things. And I LOVE finding old junk and putting it to a new use.
How can you lower your carbon footprint? Can you change the way you travel? Use a reusable cup for your coffee? Make do instead of buying new? Let us know!