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Improving your business’s sustainability might be easier than you think

Posted by Grace Townsley

August 20, 2021    |     3-minute read (688 words)

When you hear phrases like “sustainable business practices” or “going green” what do you think of? A roof full of solar panels and sitting in an 85-degree office to conserve air conditioner energy? Unfortunately, sustainability has a bad reputation for being costly, complicated and hard to maintain. But in reality there are numerous sustainability practices that are easy and inexpensive – some might even help save you money! Read on to discover a few simple ways business owners and entrepreneurs can help their businesses operate more sustainably, for less. 

Offer some form of remote, hybrid or flexible-schedule work

If you don’t already, offering remote work is a great sustainability practice to start with. The benefits are well known – less gas used for employee commuting and less energy and supplies required at the office. For companies that can’t offer fully remote work, even creating a hybrid environment where employees rotate days in the office or work remotely for part of each day can make a difference. By shifting your employees’ commute time from rush hour, where they waste considerable gas sitting in traffic, to more free-flowing hours, even businesses that are unable to offer remote work can improve their footprint. 

Incentivize public transportation

Some companies reimburse or reward employees who utilize public transportation or carpooling to get to work. Not only does this help reduce overall vehicle emissions, incentivizing public transportation also makes work more accessible to those who are unable to drive or don’t have a vehicle. Companies that encourage public transportation tend to have larger talent pools to hire from and healthier employees due to the exercise of walking or biking to and from the transport pickup and drop-off sites. 

BYOC! (bring your own cup)

Back in 2016, Recycling Advocates launched the BYOC! campaign to help raise awareness about single-use coffee cup waste. They found that one trashed coffee cup per day equates to 23 pounds of garbage each year. And did you know a single reusable water bottle can save up to 167 plastic bottles per year?

Providing your employees with a reusable bottle or coffee mug is an inexpensive way to reduce your office’s waste each year. This small change can have a major impact on your company’s environmental impact and is a simple place to start. 

Add some greenery

Another small way to improve sustainability across your entire office is by bringing in some plants. Certain kinds of plants, like bamboo palm, aloe vera and ferns, actually help clean the air as they grow. Having live plants around to help bring in a sense of nature has also been shown to boost employee productivity.

Recycle right

In a big office you may find yourself frequently decommissioning your old electronics. But throwing electrical equipment in the regular trash can have a major impact on the landfill where it ends up, and in some cities, it might even be illegal. Most electronics contain chemicals that are harmful when they soak into the soil. Over time, this can damage plants and animals and pollute your local water supply. 

There are several alternatives to tossing out your electronics. Companies like HP, Best Buy and Xerox have recycle and buy-back programs in place to help you properly dispose of your equipment. The Environmental Protection Agency is also a great resource if you’re unsure of what you can safely throw away. If your equipment is still in working order, donating it to a local charity can also be a sustainable option.

Beyond sustainability 

Not only are sustainability practices critical for our environment, but they can also boost employee morale and your business’s reputation. Your employees may collaborate throughout the day on various work projects, but working toward a positive outcome that’s beyond the business helps foster a stronger sense of value in the workplace. If you’ve ever had a volunteer activity with your colleagues, you know how working together on a community project boosts team spirit. When you bring employees together to brainstorm ways to reduce waste and improve your office’s sustainability, you’re creating a sense of collaboration and collectivity. 

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