Small measures that don’t cost the earth

Conservationist, environmentalist and general good guy Sir David Attenborough is never far from our thoughts as he continually exhorts us all to do our bit towards saving the planet.

The message is clear: this generation needs to take significant action now or risk a painful extermination of the planet.

So what can a small-to-medium sized company do to play its part in greening up our world?

Well, the good news is that in order to save the earth, a green programme doesn’t have to cost the earth. By making small, often free, changes to your company’s way of operating, you can play your part and even save a few pennies along the way.

The first thing to tackle is the company culture and make it absolutely clear where the company stands. Take a sure and confident stance with all employees and the people you do business with: you are an environmentally responsible company.

There are several ways you can engage your employees in your new vision. Create efficiency goals, such as cutting electricity or saving on paper use. This can be turned into a league table of ‘green-minded’ departments or individuals. Make it fun and inclusive across the whole company and don’t forget to celebrate success.

Maybe you can form a committee tasked with measuring savings or setting goals. Highlight ways in which your green mission enhances your workplace and/ or better serve your customers. By getting ideas and input from your employees, you are encouraging them to embrace your new goals.

Here are a few simple steps you can take.

Change light bulbs. It won’t save the planet but it is a small part that every company can play in the overall battle. Swapping to LED lighting is definitely worth the investment. LED’s use far less energy and do not contain mercury and other toxic gases contained by incandescent and fluorescent lights. They are pricey upfront but will last about five times longer than other bulbs.

Eliminate plastic bottles. Of course, much plastic from bottles is now recycled, but that in itself takes energy, why add to the environmental burden? Install a water filtration system in the office. Not only will the water be fresh and clean but you will save time and money by avoiding the packaged water habit.

Proactively seek out green suppliers. Interview your suppliers to find out about their sustainability efforts. If you use a printer, ask if they use recycled paper. Look for companies that use energy efficient vehicles and manufacturing plants that have practices in place to reduce their carbon footprint.

Conserve human energy. In an earlier article we spoke about the importance of supporting a healthy workforce. Consider that healthy, energetic employees will be more creative and productive. Help to keep your team healthy by creating a safe, non-toxic environment. Serve sustainable brain food at meetings: nuts, organic fruits and vegetables, and even dark chocolate all play a role in maintaining mental acuity.

Support a local charity or fundraising event. When it comes to a company’s social and corporate responsibility, there is nothing better than being able to point to a cause that you and your company support. It is good for image and public relations and it feels good to support something that is meaningful and far reaching.

Talk to your staff about what they think is a worthy charity to support. Adopt a green cause and do an annual fundraising event. There are all sorts of conservation campaigns you can participate in, from planting trees to raising funds for environmental studies scholarships. Find one that’s close to your company’s collective heart and involve your online and local communities.

Recycle and reuse. Set recycling goals with your employees. Try to cut down or eliminate the amount of rubbish your company generates. Also, purchase recycled paper products and ink cartridges. Even certain furniture and other big ticket items contain recycled goods.

Use green cleaning products. While it is vitally important that your work place is clean and free from germs, many of the cleaning products we use are extremely toxic. They do enormous damage to both human health and the environment. Swap toxic cleaning products for green brands – they can be pricier but in the long run that is a small price to pay when balanced against human health and saving the planet.

Add some greenery to the office. Living plants are great for cleaning the office environment, by removing CO2 from the air. Plus, the presence of green plants are widely thought to be stress-reducing and calming in an often hectic office space.

Some of these measures may seem trite when compared to the catastrophe facing planet earth as outlined by Sir David. But, if everybody did their one per cent, that quickly adds up to a sizeable contribution.