Sustainability is not just a trending topic; It is the future of creating efficient operations that not only meet the bottom line but reduce the carbon footprint of enterprises. Small businesses can create a lot of waste from thousands of sheets of paper that pass hands internally to kitchenettes using plastic and styrofoam cups on a daily basis.
Here are 5 simple ways you can make an impact and create eco-friendly habits in the workspace.
1. Invest in Personalized Mugs and Stainless Steel Bottles for Employees
With the numerous trips made to the coffee machine and water dispenser, the amount of waste from plastic and styrofoam cups are astronomical. Over 50% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee everyday. With that, about 25 billion styrofoam coffee cups get thrown away every year as well as 2.5 million plastic beverage bottles, and neither of them are biodegradable. For meetings with clients , have a fleet of reusable cups and mugs that can be washed and restocked for the next day. Another option is to purchase recycled paper cups or plastic cups made from corn plastics.
2. Use Office Supplies More Efficiently
Simple practices like printing on both sides of the paper and making double sided copies reduces your use of paper by 50%. If you are printing documents that need to be proofed, instead of printing it on new sheets of paper, reuse old documents and print on the alternate side. You can also switch to purchasing recycled and eco-friendly printing paper options.
3. Switch from Direct, Print Marketing to Digital Marketing
On average, over 42 pounds of junk mail gets sent out to an adult per year. More than 40% of this paper is usually high-grade printing, copying or writing paper. Over 40% of that paper goes into landfills unopened. Be a part of the solution; not the problem. Switch to direct digital marketing and save your business money and waste.
4. Donate Leftover Office Food
There are usually pounds of food leftover from office meetings, conferences, and parties. Instead of throwing away the leftovers, consider donating the food to local shelters that could make use of the food immediately.
5. Reduce Business Traveling
With the availability of high quality video conferencing software and apps from Skype to Google Hangouts, the necessity of business traveling can be reduced. You reduce your carbon footprint and costs with eliminating travel expenses from airline tickets to hotel rooms, car rentals, and entertainment expenses. It can also be a catalyst for more productive outcomes as one can reach more people in a day via video correspondance versus traveling from city to city.
Yoli Ouiya, noted as the “Queen of Green” by Black Enterprise Magazine, is a Green & Healthy Living Expert and Green Chef. She currently operates a green and natural lifestyle website YolisGreenLiving.com and boutique eco-lifestyle outfit called Ou!ya Green Living Group. With a certification in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell, she offers workshops, lectures, and organizes a variety of eco-chic green themed events in New York. She is currently on the board of directors for The New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, The NY Green Living Examiner for Examiner.com, a Duane Reade VIP blogger, and co-authoring a book slated for completion Summer 2013