Of everything negatively impacting the planet, pollution produced by businesses is by far the greatest concern. Businesses produce more waste, cause more people to drive, and consume more energy than individual consumers could ever do. Because of this, businesses should be ever-vigilant in finding ways to reduce their impact on the environment, as well as offset it with a positive impact. Here are a few things that every business can do to help offset their own negative impact on the environment.
Update old equipment
As people become more and more aware of the perils modern life brings to the environment, manufacturers try harder to create better products. Electronics are built to consume less electricity. Machinery is made to run cleaner and more efficiently. Appliances such as refrigerators and dryers are better sealed and insulated to reduce energy loss. There are any number of improvements in any given year.
Look back the level of environmental concern 10 years ago as compared with today. People were looking at how to make things cheaper and more powerful, but weren’t really concerned about what kind of impact an item would have on the environment. Though the initial price may be higher, any Energy Star products will not only be more efficient compared to other products, they can make an appreciable difference in monthly energy bills. This gives companies a financial incentive for being environmentally friendly.
Businesses should work updating equipment into the monthly budget. Computers and their hardware, heavy equipment, and even the refrigerator in the employees’ lounge may be candidates for replacement. Check in your area for recycling options on outdated equipment, or sell it to companies that may have still more outdated equipment.
Lower electricity consumption
Though steps have been made for cleaner electricity production — including hydroelectric, solar, and wind turbines — there is still a large portion being produced by burning fossil fuels and other high-pollution methods. Luckily, it is relatively easy to reduce consumption in the workplace.
Are there areas of your company’s building that are not used during the day? Instead of turning on all of the lights at the beginning of the day, turn lights off whenever a room is not in use. If the building is company-owned, consider skylights and automatically dimming lights as a great energy-saving option, allowing employees to get the benefit of sunlight while reducing the use of electric lights.
Not only does unused equipment consume electricity if it’s left plugged in, the constant flow of electricity during periods of little or no use can lower the lifespan of inkjet printer cartridges in printers and fax machines. Though computers often have to stay on for virus scans and software updates, printers, fax machines, headphones, external speakers, lamps and other equipment can be unplugged at the end of the day. These only take a second to plug back in when they’re needed each morning, but can add up to huge savings in electricity. Also be sure to turn off all computer monitors when they’re not in use.
Allow more telecommuting and online work
Most companies have at least some jobs that don’t necessarily have to be done from the office. Home internet connections can be used instead of work ones, phone calls can be routed to a personal number, home computers can be added to business networks, and progress updates can easily be telephoned or emailed in. Having people work outside of the office may reduce the business’s energy consumption, but more importantly it keeps people from driving to work. In addition, home workers spend a lot more time being productive rather than traveling.
Business meetings don’t necessarily have to be attended in person. Closed-circuit television or webcams paired with microphones, or conference calls will often suffice for most business meetings in another state or country. The less people travel, the less high-pollution travel such as airplanes will be used. If one must fly, try to choose an environmentally-conscious airline such as Virgin that works to offset all of their emissions. They are also actively engaged in research to find cleaner-burning airplane fuels and ways to collect excess carbon from the atmosphere.
These are just three things that are easy for businesses everywhere to implement. They end up saving the business money while being kinder to the environment, and don’t take any real money or infrastructure to implement.