What does it all really mean? Are businesses today aware of all the options available to them?
“Going green”….it sounds good, and it’s an idea that businesses have begun to work into their business practices because consumers are becoming more conscientious about the products and services they are using.
For a company to be more environmentally friendly all they need to do is change out a few light bulbs, maybe recycle some of their paper waste, or buy more energy efficient products. These are all good ideas, and surely they are better than doing nothing at all, but is that all a company can do? With the average worker in America spending nearly a third of their life at their job place, not to mention the interaction most companies have with the public not working for them, businesses today have the ability to have some of the greatest impact on a cleaner better environment.
Whether you are a business owner, an employee or a customer with a good idea, it takes you getting involved to get things changed. Below we have provided some ideas to help jumpstart your own green efforts.
STORAGE: How much paper do you really need? A basic computer hard drive with 100 gigabyte capacity can store about 4 million pages of word documents. If you want to implement a backup system such as an external hard drive, you can find products with 1.5 terabytes (more than 1,500 gigabytes, or more than 60 million word documents) for as little as $100. When you compare that to the average cost in the $100-$150 range for a two-drawer filing cabinet, you can see the allure of going to a digital backup system.
However, it's when you look at the whole picture that things really become clear. With an electronic backup system, you gain greater ease of locating, editing, and redistributing files, reduced space and you can expand without having to actually expand. In addition, external drives are a safer, more reliable way to store information with the ability to encrypt sensitive information.
CUSTOMER CONTACT: Need another reason? The idea of a paperless service can be integrated into many facets of your customer interaction. The ability to e-mail consumers about upcoming events, notify them of new products and services, or just remind them about your company, has created a new world of business. No longer do businesses send mass mailings or "junk mail" to houses based solely on a proximity to where the business is located. Today you have the option to specify and direct emails and marketing campaigns directly to those who have the most interest, and to do it at a fraction of the cost.
A by-product of this movement is the massive reduction in waste paper thrown into landfills every year. This form of consumer contact also allows the customers you are trying to reach have instant contact back to your business, giving you instant feedback allowing you to grow and change your company at the speed it takes to survive in the internet era we live in. Is your company working in the times, or are you still living in the past?
We've all heard the reasoning behind why a recycling program won't work in the workplace: either there isn't enough trash to warrant the program, the cost is too high, or employees wouldn't take advantage of the program. But if we really take a look at the options available today it becomes obvious that the old rules just don't apply.
It doesn't matter how much trash a company creates. It all has to be disposed of, and more than half of most workplace trash is recyclable. It's no longer just office paper that you have to think about. It's aluminum cans, plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, steel or tin cans from lunch, and magazines. Many companies now offer a co-mingled recycling program where you don't have to separate these items.
Cost has become a moot point because many companies offer rebates off their recycling services for the amount of material collected. This makes the service minimal in cost to run. When looked at in conjunction with lowered cost companies have had in trash services, some companies have found it is actually cheaper when they do recycle.
Finally, the excuse that employees wouldn't accept or buy in to recycling is archaic at best. As evident by the numbers provided to the city in recent years more and more individuals are joining the efforts of recycling on their own in their private lives, and the ease with which you can now recycle following suit in the workplace is a natural evolution.
- Financial Paper Footprint
Calculate how much you can reduce your environmental impact by switching to electronic billing, statements and payments!
- Paper Calculator
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), creator of Paper Calculator v2.0, features illustrations and interactive charts to show the environmental impacts of different papers across their full lifecycle.
What is “green purchasing?”
To put it simply, it's the practice of buying environmentally friendly products. The City encourages all businesses in our community to develop some form of a green purchasing policy. The City is developing a policy that will guide us to be a more eco-friendly community, while remaining fiscally responsible to our citizens.
The quickest and easiest way to implement a green purchasing policy is to make the decision to buy Environmentally Preferable Products, or EPPs. EPPs have less of a negative impact on the environment than its standard counterpart. For example, if you were going to buy a new computer monitor and your choice was either an ENERGY STAR® appliance, or one that wasn’t ENERGY STAR rated then the first option is the EPP. You can become as involved as you want when determining what products to buy for your company, going as in depth as doing Life Cycle Costing (LCC), or simply just making sure the products you buy have recognized eco-friendly ratings such as ENERGY STAR, Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), Leadership in Energy and Enviornmental Design (LEED), or are made with recycled materials.
True LCC is a staggering task, but your business can simplify it by looking solely at what the product will cost your workplace to purchase it, use it, then dispose of it; and what effects this product has on the environment. For example, look at a bottle of cleaner. If you can buy a gallon of concentrated product, mix the cleaner yourself and portion it as needed into a spray bottle not only do you save money on buying multiple individual bottles of pre-mixed cleaner, but you also reduce the amount of plastic being thrown away by re-using the spray bottle. It may cost five times more for the upfront cost of the concentrate as opposed to a single bottle of cleaner, but looking at what you save over time, you realize that it is more cost efficient and, as an added bonus, it's also better for the environment.
What You Can Do!
Start small, because the last thing you want to do is become so overwhelmed at the beginning that it becomes an almost impossible task. Look at a few of the products your company buys on a regular basis and determine which of these products have the most affect on the environment, and look into alternative solutions or products. As you become more versed and comfortable, begin to incorporate more eco-friendly products. Before long, you can drastically reduce your company’s carbon footprint, and in the process save some money.
Any time you undertake buying big ticket items do the research first. Don’t let a salesman talk you into a product without finding out if the product is right for your company, and if it is actually as good as advertised. Most of the time larger purchase items have the most research to guide you, and the most reviews to see if it really operates the way it's being sold to you. Sometimes a larger ticket price up front will save your company over the life of the product in reduced energy cost, lower maintenance and better performance.
If your company has situations where you bid out contracts to multiple vendors in an effort to receive the best cost, you can require the bidding vendors to comply with the same environmental standards as your company. No one wants to be the company that touts itself as being environmentally friendly only to find out that one of its contractors is performing illegal dumping.
There are rebate incentives available to businesses to encourage the use of environmentally-friendly practices.
The City of Independence Power and Light Department (IPL) offers rebates for the installation of energy efficient equipment or measures.
IPL commercial and industrial customers can apply for either prescriptive rebates for simple lighting and air conditioning projects; or custom rebates for projects not fitting into prescriptive categories, or both. For custom rebate applications, the simple payback of the proposed project must be between two and ten years to qualify for a rebate.
Visit IPL’s web site for rebate amounts and rebate applications.
Preserving Resources, Preventing Waste. WasteWise helps its partners meet goals to reduce and recycle municipal solid waste and selected industrial wastes.
The Solid Waste Management Program works hard to help all Missourians better manage their solid wastes. Through the cooperative efforts of citizens, businesses, industry and government, Missouri can continue to increase material reuse and recycling from all solid waste sources. Contact the planner for your local solid waste management district.
MRA supports waste reduction and recycling efforts in Missouri by providing information, educational opportunities, and technical support in partnership with state, national and regional organizations.
We have consolidated a listing of useful and informative calculators on our Green Extras web page. The listing includes an applicance calculator, a carbon footprint calculator, recycling calculators, energy calculators, CFL and lighting calcultors, and many more.
Give it a rest.Use appliances with the ENERGY STAR® label and power-saving modes on computers and monitors.
Unplug it.Unplug appliances and electronics when they are not in use.
Light up.Replace incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified fluorescent or LED bulbs, turn off the lights when you leave a room, or add occupancy sensors in rooms that are not occupied constantly.
Remove excess lights.Many buildings have more lighting then needed. In some areas, half the light may be sufficient. Don't sacrifice safety though. Hallways and stairwells need to be well lit to help prevent slips and falls.
Install separate switches for smaller areas.Have an electrician re-wire lights into smaller groups on independent switches.
Keep the heating and cooling to a minimum.Request the heat set at 65 F and the air conditioning at 76 F, and use a programmable thermostat to set back the temperature for nights, weekends, and holidays.
Bring re-usable cups, plates, and flatware for that mid-morning office snack or when eating lunches in.Recycle all plastic and paperboard that is associated with disposable meals.
Let it flow.Keep air vents clear of equipment, paper, files, and supplies.
Fax and copy only when really necessary.Set printers and copiers to print double sided whenever possible. Keep a box for scrap paper that has only been used on one side for memos or test printing.