How Can Small Businesses Be More Environmentally Friendly?

woman sitting on a bench
by Yazi

It is difficult to open a newspaper or listen to a news programme these days, without coming across some reference to protecting the planet. The more altruistic business owners among should contribute the best way we can; besides many business waste as much as 30% of the energy they use.

But, what are some of the best ways a business can be a little more environmentally friendly? Well, detailed specifics depend on the type of business. However, the following how to green tips are a good place to begin.

Change your lights.


Over the last decade, there has been a big move away from incandescent bulbs, the type invented by Edison, to compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and light emitting diodes. Both types use far less energy than old style bulbs and last much longer. CFLs provide around 10,000 hours of lighting; LEDs, 100,000.

Moreover, LEDs use even less energy than CFLs. Combine your change of light bulbs with the replacement of light fittings, covers etc. with ones that are made from natural materials, don't cost a fortune to manufacture and are recyclable.

Finally, encourage everyone to turn off lights when they are not in use and switch supplementary lighting off at the socket at the end of the day.

Reuse, recycle.


The cost to business of dealing with waste is increasing and there is a growing list of rules and regulations which you are legally obliged to comply with. If your business does not have a waste management strategy, you should produce one.

Include information on how the business will reuse and recycle. Reuse whatever materials you can. If you have things you simply cannot utilise, you won't have to look very far before you find a source who can put your once used packaging, offcuts or bi-products, not to mention used but serviceable equipment and office furniture, to good and profitable use.

Next, you should look for opportunities to recycle. Perhaps you need to consider what materials you use in your business and buy recyclable ones. Ask yourself if you can improve the recyclability of the products your business produces.

Waste for recycling need sorting by type. Speak to experts about the best way to achieve this. Your council or local authority may be able to help.

Check your HVAC case.


Your heating ventilation and air conditioning system takes up a significant proportion of your overall energy consumption. This is an area where you can make massive savings. Your old system may be inefficient, noisy and difficult to control and monitor.

Take a look at a new, energy efficient system and get someone to produce a costing of how quickly it will pay for itself by saving on energy consumption. If a new system is not an option for you, make sure your existing one is working as efficiently as it can.

Consider zoning and clean any filters regularly. Seal up any gaps that have opened in ducts, replace fans and other units with eco friendly units where existing ones are coming to the end of their lives. Introduce a preventative maintenance programme, so that potential issues are spotted and addressed before they become problems.

Replace outdated appliances with greener equipment.


Replacing outdated appliances is one of the many ways for businesses to go green. This is an easy tip to implement and can be done overtime. Whatever equipment your business uses; photocopiers; ovens, fridges; freezers; looms, lathes, the betting is that there is likely to be a more energy efficient version that the one you are using.

Take an industrial laundry setting for example. A washer that could improve both your water usage and energy consumption would be a real asset. Take a look at this real scenario where the owners chose to have environmentally friendly washers and dryer installed. That can save them approximately $20 in gas costs per week, per unit. Not only energy use is more efficient, but it is definitely cost-effective. Plus, they can also avoid government fines and fees this way.

Alternatively, introduce lagoon washing, replacing chemical solvents with soft soap and water.

Use biodegradable cleaners.


Every business uses cleaning products. Some of these damage the environment, impacting on local flora and fauna. Part of your overall strategy should be to substitute, wherever possible, chemically based products, particularly those containing phthalates, triclosan and chlorine, for plant based cleaners with a neutral Ph.

Create a bike-based delivery system.


A number of take-away food delivery companies have already proved that bike-based delivery systems work within limited vicinities. If your business product can be delivered in this way, to customers who are based locally, why not try it.

You will help reduce the traffic in your locality and delivery is likely to be quicker because of the ability to avoid traffic queues. Furthermore, you will be able to reduce your car or van use and with it maintenance costs.

Practice, monitor, improve.


Set out your strategy to answer the question, how can a business be more environmentally friendly, and then implement it. Aim for realistic targets.

Communicate your strategy to the workforce and encourage compliance, making sure you walk the talk yourself.

Once implemented, make sure you monitor performance in each area so you can see the impact each of your improvement measures is having. If you implement some of the go green tips, the improvements will come.

Partner with & support other green entrepreneurs.


You won't be the old company looking for answers to how can businesses be more environmentally friendly. Don't try and improve in isolation; talk to other business owners in your area.

Maybe they are ahead of you and you can learn something from them. Perhaps you can achieve economies of scale by agreeing to combine waste and share the cost, or maybe by looking carefully at delivery schedules for both company and working together you can achieve the same aim in a greener way and a cheaper cost to both. Think out of the box and get out and make those business connections.


About the Author: Yazi is an inspired writer who enjoys writing about personal growth, self-help tips, and women's lifestyle.

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