10 Ways Your Business Can Go Green and Save Money

How your company can go green to save green

As more people become environmentally conscious, more pressure is put on your business to get involved in the movement.

The good news is there are more benefits to becoming environmentally-friendly than you ever realized. Consider this:

In honor of Earth Day (April 22) and helping your business save money, we’ve put together a list of 10 ways your company can go green.

1. Ditch plastic cutlery

One of the easiest and quickest ways to reduce the amount of plastic waste in your office is to replace all plastic cutlery with silverware. Purchasing silverware may be a little costly up front but the savings will add up.

“One year ago, we phased out plastic cutlery in our lunch rooms and replaced them with silverware,” says Roxanne Koster, who used to order 3 boxes of 500 utensils every month for the ALTRES employee lunch rooms.

“To date, we’ve saved about $1,200 and prevented nearly 18,000 single-use plastic utensils from ending up in landfills!”

An even cheaper option is to have employees bring their own utensils. It’s like bringing bags to the grocery store, so easy once you get into the habit!

2. Say goodbye to Styrofoam cups

If you’re providing your employees with Styrofoam coffee cups, please stop buying them immediately. Styrofoam  is made of styrene, a “probable carcinogen to humans.”  Not only that, the manufacturing process is energy intensive, endangers workers, and creates difficult-to-recycle products that end up in landfills and waterways.

Encourage your employees to bring in their own bottles and mugs to the office instead.

3. Rethink your office supplies

Americans throw out over 1.6 billion disposable pens every year. That’s a lot of plastic! Consider investing in reusable pens for each employee and stocking your supply cabinet with refills only.

Pens aren’t the only office supply sucking up cash and contributing to waste. Other items like binders, folders, and boxes are often used only once or twice before being thrown out. Ask employees to save these items and put them back in the supply cabinet for reuse.

4. Go paperless

From digital invoices and contracts to cloud-based file storage, going paperless is easier today than ever before.  Although eliminating paper completely might not be feasible for every business, consider that the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper every year. And at about 8 cents per sheet, that’s $800 per year, per employee!

With so many options for going paperless—think Dropbox, Google Drive, email—it’s extremely easy for employees to cut down on the amount of paper they print on. Make these paperless programs more accessible for all employees. Consider hosting  a workshop showing employees how to make the most out of them.

5. Switch to LED light bulbs

LED, or light-emitting diode, lights are efficient, mercury-free, and cost effective. An average LED bulb will last 8 to 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. If you haven’t already made the switch, get the rundown on LED lightbulbs from Hawaiian Electric.

6. Recycle old electronics

Most workplaces run electronic equipment all day, every day—phones, computers, keyboards, printers, air conditioners—and sooner or later, they’ll need to be replaced. The best way to do this is to recycle with a business that accepts old or broken electronics. Several stores have consumer electronics or battery recycling programs (Apple, Best Buy, Target) and the State of Hawaii has a listing of local e-waste recyclers for businesses. They will take your electronics that are no longer in use and find a way to recycle or repurpose.

7. Promote teleconferencing

Whether you have a big meeting that requires attendance of all your sales people from different offices or a handful of employees who work from home, working remotely and teleconferencing can save a bundle on gas mileage and commute time. If you have the means to do so, try it! You can always go back to in-person meetings if it doesn’t work for your team.

8. Shut down computers

Perhaps the easiest and cheapest idea on this list: remind everyone to shut down their computers at the end of the day. Idling computers suck up a lot of energy. Multiply that by 10, 50, or even 100 employees? That’s a lot of wasted electricity.

9. Incentivize carpooling and public transportation

If the majority of your employees commute to work, why not encourage them to commute together? Carpooling can help to reduce fuel emissions, encourage punctuality amongst employees, reduce travel time, and encourage employee bonding.

Start an incentive program that offers additional benefits for employees who carpool or ride the bus. At ALTRES, we cover 100% of TheBus pass fee, should an employee choose to get one.

10. Invest in solar energy

Unsurprisingly, Hawaii residents pay the most for electricity. Solar panels aren’t just for residential homes, it’s an option for commercial properties, too. Unlike other go-green initiatives, investing in a renewable form of energy like solar is a big decision. Each panel could cost up to several thousand dollars; you can calculate an estimate of the total installation cost on Solar-Estimate.org.  While this won’t see immediate benefits, you could save your company big bucks in the long run.

Becoming more sustainable could save your company thousands of dollars, increase employee retention, and boost your company’s reputation all while helping the planet. The slow-and-steady progress may not feel noticeable, but it will have a net positive effect on your company and our planet.

April 22 is Earth Day! This year, why not take the opportunity to try one of the tips mentioned above?