At this point, we’re all used to hearing the buzzwords – eco-friendly, green, sustainable, and all natural, to name a few. But what’s the point of it all? High upfront costs and the hassle of changing old habits deter people everywhere from moving toward practices that are healthier for the earth. But if the idea of a lighter carbon footprint doesn’t motivate you as a business owner to make the switch, maybe this will: “going green” can have a major impact on your bottom line.
The Stats: Consumers Spend Money on Good Causes
People who don’t believe in eradicating global poverty or saving the earth are few and far between. Simply put, most of us care about the world’s problems. More than 55 percent of global respondents to a Nielsen survey report that they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is – which means paying extra for products and services from companies committed to good causes. Of these consumers, millennials are the most passionate about corporate social and environmental responsibility.
What You Can Do
With the benefits of green practices in mind, the first thing your business should do is conduct an energy audit. If your business is small, you may be able to get away with doing this on your own. The Federal Energy Management Program provides a good checklist for businesses. However, if you have larger scale needs, you may need to contract an auditor to make an assessment. Once you know your energy needs, you’ll be much better equipped to move forward.
No matter where you stand currently, you can always make a few changes. Consider the following ideas to make your business more environmentally friendly – ranked in order from ridiculously easy to a little more challenging, but certainly still worth it.
1. Replace Your Light Bulbs. While standard incandescent light bulbs are cheap, they waste a lot of energy and have a short functional life. As a first step, retire these bulbs and replace them with CFL or LED lights. They’re more expensive upfront, but they’ll last for years and will save you energy. To find out how much money you’ll save by changing your bulbs, usethis nifty calculator from Energy Star.
2. Go Paperless. While you may not be able to eradicate paper documents completely, you can significantly reduce your usage. You’ll likely find paperless technology to be more efficient. For example, Google Drive makes collaboration a snap, because multiple people can edit a document simultaneously. Additionally, archiving files in the cloud will not only cut back on paper use, but it will also provide more data security. Finally, you can use paperless statements and bill pay with customers.
3. Partner with Eco-Friendly Suppliers. Items like recycled printer ink and compostable coffee cups are great options for in-office sustainability initiatives. You can also source products for your customers from eco-friendly manufacturers. For example, if you operate an in-home cleaning service, supply employees with biodegradable cleaning products.
4. Switch to Solar. Changing your energy source is a big decision, but it’s ultimately one of the best ways to show consumers your commitment to being an earth-friendly business. Solar installation costs are lower than ever, which makes for a great return on investment for businesses. Generating your own power will completely eliminate the most expensive part of your corporate utility bills, so you’ll save money as well.
Final Thoughts: Making It Happen
Some of these practices, like switching out your light bulbs, are simple fixes. However, others will require a larger investment of your time and money. Ultimately, though, the more committed your business is to eco-friendly practices, the more consumers will want to invest. You already provide a great product or service; by committing to sustainability, you’ll only make it better – and more appealing to your target audience.