Businesses stray away from “going green” because of the cost, but transitioning to an <strong><a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/01/04/11-eco-friendly-cars/">eco-conscious</a></strong> business doesn’t have to mean shedding out countless amounts of cash. <a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2010/09/27/greening-your-business-on-a-budget/">Jennifer Kaplan’s </a><em><a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2010/09/27/greening-your-business-on-a-budget/">Greening Your Small Business: How to Improve Your Bottom Line, Grow Your Brand, Satisfy Your Customers—and Save the Planet</a> </em>gives boutique businesses an inside view on how they can go green, from start to finish. In the kick off to <strong>BlackEnterprise.com</strong>'s Weekly Top 10 at 1o, we offer you ten ways small businesses can make going green a part of their <strong><a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2010/12/30/small-business-checklist-get-your-house-in-order-for-2011/">business plan</a></strong> in the New Year.
<strong>1) R</strong><strong>ound up the troops: </strong>In order for green efforts to take off successfully, it MUST be a group endeavor. Choose a team that includes senior management and employees that will be dedicated in assisting the company move towards greener business practices. Green implementation starts at the top, but having a team of upper and lower level executives involved in the planning process will make changing workplace attitudes easier.
<strong>2) </strong><strong>Take inventory: </strong>Monitor your business activities so you can keep a log on how money is spent. Although it’s timely, measure the amount of water, energy and other resources your business uses. This can be done by walking around your place of business and taking an account of assets and materials used, suggests Kaplan. She adds reviewing your bills and accounting records to see both the number and the dollar amounts spent on line item goods and services as well as assembling a list of all your business expenses by dollar amounts in descending order will help.
<strong>3) </strong><strong>Formulate a practical plan: </strong>Going green is an ongoing process so start small. After seeing how the business is spending its money and reviewing both the opportunities and challenges you face, you’ll have a better sense of where to start. Create a set of objectives and prioritize implementing them. Great tip: start by constructing an environmentally friendly mission statement.
<strong>4) </strong><strong>Go paperless whenever possible: </strong>There’s a lot of paperwork that goes into running a business, but you can still handle business without the paper pileup. Digitize documents by scanning or PDF formatting them; send invoices and documents by email. Encourage others to do the same by inserting a “save paper” message in your email signature. If you do need to use paper, be mindful of how much paper your utilizing. Try setting the default to two-sided on the copier, eliminate cover sheets when faxing or using Arial Narrow font—this lessens your printed page area by nearly 15%.
</a>5) “</strong><strong>Reduce, reuse and recycle”: </strong>Look into reusing products or materials that are refillable, repaired or refurbished. When it comes to office supplies, recycle as many as possible. Instead of throwing paper in with the regular trash opt to put it in the recycling bin. Place clearly labeled recycling bins throughout the establishment so that it’s not an afterthought, but a priority.
<strong>6) </strong><strong>Buy green: </strong>Start by buying local. You’re not only supporting your local economy, but also cutting out the monetary and environmental cost associated with transportation. Go for vendors that have environmental policies in place (i.e., look for the <strong><a href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=small_business.sb_index">Energy Star</a></strong> label).
<strong>7)</strong><strong> Adopt an environmentally conscious marketing approach: </strong>Go digital when spreading your marketing message. Get rid of hard copies and create electronic versions of items such as media kits or newsletters; make them accessible on your site or via email. To cut down on mailing, keep your mailing lists updated to eliminate the undeliverable and duplicate addresses.
<strong>8)</strong> <strong>Lights out when it comes to saving energy: </strong>At the close of business, turn off lights, computers and monitors. When you can, replace current light bulbs with high-efficiency bulbs. Not only does shutting down your computer save energy, but it’s stopping the risk of having your computer hacked.
</a>9)</strong> <strong>Follow the</strong> <strong>green light when it comes to travel: </strong>If you can opt out of travelling, teleconference or web conference instead. When traveling out of town, take the train—it’s more efficient that automobile or air travel. Rent a small car and car pool to business meetings, if possible. If that’s not an option, mass transit is.
</a>10)</strong> <strong>Take advantage of your resources: </strong>Sites such as<strong> </strong><a href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=small_business.sb_index" target="_blank"><strong>Energy Star for Small Business</strong></a>, <a href="http://www.p2ad.org/toolkit/" target="_blank"><strong>“The Sustainable Office Toolkit</strong></a>,” and the <a href="http://www.aboutcsbe.org/" target="_blank"><strong>Center of Small Business and the Environment</strong></a> can provide small businesses with insight on saving while being sustainable. <li><strong>More tips on going green and on taking your business to the next level:</strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2010/12/30/small-business-checklist-get-your-house-in-order-for-2011/?show=1">Your small business checklist: everything you need to do to get your house in order in 2011</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2010/12/29/6-new-year-resolutions-for-new-entrepreneurs/">6 New Year resolutions for new entrepreneurs</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/2011/01/04/11-eco-friendly-cars/">Green machines: 11 of the hottest eco-friendly cars</a></strong></li>