Posted on February 15, 2011
Filed Under (Advice, General Business, Green Business) by jennifer

This post was put together by the research team at Green Irene.


Taking up green initiatives with your business is a strategy offering a wide range of benefits. Whether your company is looking to save money, build your customer base, create a healthier work environment for employees, or make your brand stand out among competitors, going green plays an increasingly important role in business operations.

But your office doesn’t need to invest in solar panels or install a green roof to start on the path to sustainability. Smaller steps can make a big difference. Here are some of Green Irene’s top five green tips for small businesses:

1. Reduce Paper Waste

The EPA found that the average office worker uses an incredible 10,000 sheets of paper every year, of which only about a third is recycled. To cut down on paper waste, start a paper awareness campaign in your office, asking workers if they really need to print out that document or email. Also, make recycling easy for your employees by providing a bin at every desk, and posting signs reminding everyone to recycle their paper waste. And make sure paper recycling is also available in common areas like copy rooms and mail rooms. Other things you can do to cut down on paper waste (and costs): have workers do two-sided printing and photocopying; have workers access presentations via their workstations rather than printing and handing them out; and use recycled paper.

2. Choose Energy Efficient Lighting

Lighting accounts for 44% of an office’s annual electricity use, and more efficient bulb choices can reduce energy costs significantly. Many offices have overhead fluorescent fixtures that are more than 10 years old and generally use a T-12 style tube. Newer technologies use improved T-8 and T-5 tubes. These won’t work in the older fixtures, so they’ll require fixture replacement, but the new tubes offer better color, less flicker, and a 20% savings in energy cost over the old T-12s.

LED (light-emitting diode) lighting options are also increasingly available and affordable for businesses. LEDs use up to 75% less than most fluorescent bulbs, with lower maintenance, a longer lifespan, and no mercury concerns!

3. Watch for Water Leaks

Keep an eye out for leaky faucets–a faucet that drips once per second can waste 3,000 gallons per year, making up 8% of the average water bill! Check for toilet leaks regularly, and repair dripping sinks as soon as they’re noticed.

Some quick fixture changes, like adding aerators to all sink faucets, and reducing toilet water use with simple items like a toilet tank bag or a toilet fill diverter, can also offer significant savings for water conservation efforts.

4. Choose Toxic-Free Cleaners

Regular use of hazardous cleaning products by office cleaning staff has been associated with higher rates of many chronic illnesses, including asthma. The fumes and residues left behind by cleaning chemicals is also one of the major contributors to sick building syndrome. Eliminate this risk by purchasing only toxic-free cleaning products, or insisting that your cleaning company use them.

5. Green Your Supply Chain

Consuming green is important when there is a need to consume. Working with vendors and suppliers to green your purchasing can extend the impact of your environmental efforts to far beyond your office. Consider including environmental standards and requirements in your contract documents to push improvements down the supply chain. Ask suppliers to recommend their most environmentally-friendly products, and to use minimal, biodegradable, and recyclable packaging.

Green Irene maintains the largest network of independent eco-consultants in the United States, and we have dedicated ourselves to giving businesses the personalized advice they need to succeed in the green marketplace. We know that taking on environmental issues can help businesses redefine their brands and boost their profits, because we see the results every day!

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