Did you know that the Earth’s temperature has increased by a staggering 0.32° F per decade since 1981? Or of the ten warmest years ever recorded, nine included the years 2013 through 2021? Indeed, 2021 was the sixth-hottest year on record.
Greenhouse gas emissions are the chief culprits behind rising temps and climate change. Human activities, in turn, are the primary reason for the rising GHG levels over the last 150 years.
The good news is that there are many things you can do to help combat global warming as an entrepreneur. Transitioning to a sustainable, eco-friendly business is one of them.
But what exactly do business sustainability and eco-friendliness mean? How do you even transform your organization into an environmentally friendly company?
This guide answers all those questions and more, so keep reading.
What Do Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Mean?
Sustainability is the ability to maintain a process continuously over long periods. One of its chief goals is to prevent the depletion of resources to ensure they remain available in the long run. The UN also defines it as not compromising the ability of the future generation to meet their needs.
On the other hand, eco-friendly means not harmful or dangerous to the environment. That’s also why some people interchange the terms eco-friendly and environmentally-friendly. While the terms differ, they share the same goal of preserving Planet Earth.
Either way, eco-friendly refers to products, activities, and practices designed to conserve resources. In addition, they aim to help prevent more pollutants from contaminating the environment.
Why Transition to a Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Business?
According to scientists, Earth is dying faster than initial estimates. After all, it has already lost half of its terrestrial plants since agriculture began. On top of that is the loss of about a fifth of animal biodiversity.
Therefore, if humans don’t do anything to reverse that, Earth will cease to exist. And without a planet, there wouldn’t be a place for humans to live, much less a place to operate a business.
That’s enough reason to become a more eco-friendly, sustainable business. Besides, doing so can reduce your overhead costs while attracting more customers. So you know, almost two in three U.S. consumers say sustainability is a crucial buying criterion.
Thus, sustainable and green business practices can also help boost your profits.
How Do You Make the Transition?
There are many ways to start, such as by implementing the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle). Another is to source materials and products from sustainable suppliers. Proper disposal of waste can also help curb emissions.
Reduce Resource Consumption
Reducing the consumption of resources cuts the need for sourcing new materials. It also results in less waste and, therefore, lowers emissions.
A perfect example is limiting the use of physical paper by going paperless or digital.
You may not notice it, but if you’re like the average U.S. office worker, you use about 10,000 sheets of paper yearly. Moreover, 70% of that goes to the bin. Even worse, many discarded sheets end up in landfills, where they emit methane, a GHG.
So why not consider going paperless whenever applicable? For example, instead of handing out printed documents, why not email them? In addition, you can store files online or on media devices to cut your business’s paper use.
Another excellent way to reduce resource consumption is to switch to renewable energy.
For instance, you might want to invest in a solar energy system to limit your reliance on fossil fuels. Aside from lowering carbon and pollutant emissions, going solar also cuts energy bills. A free consultation with a solar installer can help determine how much you can save.
Reuse Office Supplies and Building Materials
Instead of always sticking to brand-new products, consider buying used ones. For example, you can shop second-hand appliances, electronics, equipment, furnishings, and tools. Likewise, donate or sell used office supplies or materials rather than binning them.
In any case, a reuse policy at work helps your business curb its resource consumption. As a result, you also get to reduce waste production and, most importantly, your emissions. As a bonus, you can save money, as second-hand items are almost always cheaper than brand-new ones.
If you still want to purchase brand-new products, then at least ensure you buy durable ones. That can also help you reduce consumption and waste since such items last long. Their durability, in turn, keeps them away from landfills much longer.
You should also avoid relying on single-use products like disposable plastic bags. Instead, switch to eco-bags that you can use over and over again.
Recycling reduces carbon emissions and the need to harvest raw materials. In that way, this practice also saves energy, prevents pollution, and conserves resources. Hence, including this R in your corporate policy can help you achieve a green business.
One way to promote recycling at work is to invest in centralized recycling bins. Make sure you place these in strategic locations, such as by the hallways.
It’s also vital to mark each recycling bin with the type of waste they’re for. For instance, label each one with tags like “old cell phones,” “batteries,” or “cables and cords.” Doing so can help facilitate faster and more efficient recycling later on.
Use More Sustainable Materials
Sustainable materials are eco-friendly because, for one, they’re usually non-toxic. In short, they don’t endanger humans, animals, and the environment.
Another attribute of sustainable products is their recycled content. They contain recycled glass, metal, paper, plastic, or wood. As a result, they make for a greener option as they place less impact on the environment.
Proper Waste Disposal
Proper waste disposal is essential to preventing toxic waste from contaminating the environment. For example, it ensures that hazardous waste, such as chemicals, doesn’t go to landfills. In addition, it helps curb the growing concerns over electronic waste.
Proper waste disposal goes hand in hand with the 3 Rs, particularly recycling. For starters, recyclable materials should never go into landfills because they’re recyclable. That’s another reason to ensure your business has adequate recycling bins.
Besides, many recyclables, such as e-waste, emit toxic byproducts as they degrade. For instance, they leach lead and mercury, contaminating the soil, water, and air. From there, they can cause poisoning, affecting everyone, especially millions of children.
To help prevent such dangers, educate everyone at work about proper waste disposal. Tell them about the hazards of chemicals and e-waste. If they know the risks, they’ll be more than happy to practice correct and safe waste disposal.
Track Resource Consumption and Waste Production
Track your business’s resource use, and you can find out if it’s producing more waste than it should.
One way to do that is to review your energy and water bills. If it’s higher than the average, you’re likely wasting energy or water along the line.
In many cases, that occurs through neglect, such as by not switching off lights or electronics. Another is forgetting to turn off water taps or letting them run for long periods.
However, such waste can also come from massive air and water leaks. The best way to confirm that is by hiring licensed contractors to inspect your place of business. They can perform an energy audit or a leak detection test.
If the pros discover that you have air or water leaks, get them fixed ASAP. The sooner you do, the sooner you can stop wasting resources. That reduced waste translates to sustainability and lower emissions.
In addition, contractors can give you advice on making your building eco-friendlier. For example, an energy auditor may suggest you replace old, drafty windows. They may also recommend updating your comfort systems to more energy-efficient models.
Switch to Energy-Efficient Products
Energy-efficient products use less energy than non-efficient ones to perform a task. Therefore, they save energy, which, in turn, means they have lower emissions. For the same reason, they can help your business become greener and save money.
LED lights are perfect examples of energy-efficient products. Compared to incandescent lighting, LED lighting uses at least 75% less energy. Moreover, LED bulbs last much longer than incandescent or even CFL lights.
Other examples of energy-efficient products are ENERGY STAR appliances. ENERGY STAR products meet the U.S. EPA’s strict energy efficiency guidelines. As a result, they can help cut your commercial building’s use by as much as 30%.
ENERGY STAR products range from HVAC systems to refrigerators and water heaters. The list also includes office equipment, such as computers, monitors, and VoIP phones. There are even EPA-compliant electronics, including audio/video/media players and signage displays.
Time to Make Your Business Eco-Friendlier
And there you have it, the guide on transitioning to an eco-friendly business. Now you know that doing so benefits both the environment and your business. You’ve also learned that you can begin the process with steps as simple as the 3 Rs.
So, why not start the transition as early as today? The sooner you do, the sooner you can help curb emissions and do your part in saving the planet.
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