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Make Your Business More Environmentally Friendly
  • 13 November 2018
  • Tiffany C Wright

Make Your Business More Environmentally Friendly

Each year, millions of Americans participate in America Recycles Day on November 15, an annual recycling day that began more than 20 years ago. It was created by the National Recycling Coalition to increase awareness of and commitment to both the act of recycling and buying recycled products. It was folded into the "Keep America Beautiful" campaign, which focuses on supporting events and sharing information about community resources that encourage recycling and other environmentally friendly initiatives.

If you are curious how your small business can get into the environmental spirit, here are seven initiatives you can implement in your workplace to become part of the movement.

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1. Start Recycling

One of the easiest ways to make your company more environmentally friendly is to recycle. According to AmericaRecyclesDay, the current recycling rate in the United States is 34 percent. The first step to get in the game is to determine what, if anything, your local city or municipality recycles. If your city offers recycling pick-up, you simply pay to keep a recycling bin onsite. Place at least one appropriately-sized recycling bin or waste can in the office or break room area and clearly mark it "recycling." Put a note above it that states the type of items that should be recycled, and make sure that employees use it correctly.

2. Reduce Your Use of Paper and Plastic

When possible, reduce your paper use by going digital. Encourage your employees to scan and email documents, rather than printing and circulating them. As an added benefit, employees or contractors who work remotely will have better and quicker access to documentation when this is done on a regular basis.

Single-use plastics in your office can be reduced by purchasing a 5-gallon refillable water dispenser or installing a water filtration system. Rather than bringing in disposable water bottles each day, your employees will be able to bring their own refillable water containers — or, you can provide them each with one – make it branded to take advantage of another way of marketing!

3. Implement a Document Destruction Program

If your company does go through lots of paper, consider signing up with a vendor for document shredding services. They can place secure shred bins around your office, and when full, the contents are securely shredded and then recycled. Not only does this serve the environment, it can help protect your company’s sensitive information from getting into the wrong hands.

4. Increase the Use of Fans and Open Windows

In the summer months, your electric bill can skyrocket if you keep the thermostat set low and run the air conditioner on full blast. However, all that cool, recycled air can aggravate allergies and cause sinus infections. Counteract those potential sick days by installing ceiling fans and opening the windows. Unless you are located in one of the hottest climates, it is often cool early in the morning and late at night. Not only will you provide access to fresher, healthier air, but you can also reduce your electricity use and costs.

5. Use Reusable Materials

Instead of paper towels, use dish towels or rags that can be washed and re-used as needed. If your office has a small kitchen area with a sink or even a dishwasher, provide coffee mugs vs using Styrofoam or paper coffee cups. Provide real plates, bowls and silverware for folks to use versus disposable products. Encourage employees to bring their lunch in reusable plastic containers instead of baggies, and use refillable soap and cleaning containers.

Not only will these items make your office more environmentally friendly, but they will cut costs so you can focus your finances on other areas that need attention.

6. Increase Usage of Recycled Materials

When buying plastic or a set of paper towels and napkins, purchase products that are composed primarily of recycled materials. You can buy metal or plastic waste bins, storage bins, sponges and many other items that are largely composed of recycled materials.

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7. Participate in Arbor Day or Similar Events

Increase employee engagement and environmental awareness in your office by participating in Arbor Day activities as a company. Planting trees is a great way to bond and get some fresh air and exercise. If you have the space and approval, you can plant trees on your company's property. Trees decrease soil erosion and protect buildings from sun and wind, and also have a calming effect on the mind.

A national recycling day calls attention to all the ways we can reduce our environmental footprint and live more environmentally friendly lives. In addition to the above ideas, you can also consider offering incentives to your employees to encourage carpooling and reduce environmental pollution. For more helpful ideas, survey your employees for suggestions — which will result in higher employee buy-in and make your environmental initiatives more successful long-term.

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