Building An Eco-Friendly Business

Many entrepreneurs start businesses with a goal in mind. Often, that goal involves benefitting customers while making money. Sometimes there’s a specific cause the business owner wants to influence, but not always. Often, if a business is not focused specifically on environmental products or eco-focused services, the environmental impact of the business is not considered in the initial stages of start-up.

But every business has an environmental impact, whether it comes mainly from the energy their building uses, the commute of their employees, the materials used for packaging, or the waste generated in production. Even if you’re not building a “green” brand, your business can benefit greatly by starting out as an energy-efficient, environmentally conscious entity. You can not only save time and money by running efficiently, but you can appeal to customers who share your values and sleep soundly knowing you’re doing your part to build a business culture that is not detrimental to the planet.

Below are some actionable steps to building an environmentally friendly business from the ground up.

Research your Product Materials

If your products are still being conceptualized, you have a great opportunity to analyze every single part of production. You can make sure all of your materials are sourced from responsible vendors. You can compare the cost and energy output of different suppliers and weigh your options.  

You can also look for certifications pertaining to the materials you use. For example, if you sell food, you may look for USDA organic certifications. If you work with wood, check into the sustainable forest initiative and other certifications that ensure wood is being sourced in responsible ways from sustainable sources.

Product creation is a great time to analyze every aspect of your products and the environmental impact they have. Be sure to keep track of the reasons you make the choices you go with, so that when you consider changes in the future, you’ll be able to compare the same issues that you considered when making your initial choice.

Give Employees Commute Options

One part of a company’s environmental impact that often gets overlooked is the employee commute. Depending on your business model, there are several ways you can reduce this factor of your carbon footprint. Options include:

  • Creating an employee carpool program
  • Sponsoring passes for public transportation and/or local bike renting programs
  • Allowing employees to work from home a certain percentage of the time

Allowing employees to work remotely is one of the recent trends transforming business culture. Enabling employees to work from a location of their choice even once a week can drastically reduce the amount of resources used on the commute.

Establish Responsible Waste Disposal Immediately

Often, starting a business involves some waste. Maybe you’re moving into an office that has outdated equipment. Maybe you have to go through several product prototypes before you get it right. Even if your only real waste is marketing materials, that can add up. There are several steps you can take to responsibly deal with waste:

  • Set up office recycling. If you have separate waste bins for compost and recycling, make sure all employees are aware of how to properly use them. Also ensure that your janitorial staff properly disposes of the contents of each bin.
  • Implement a “Necessary Printing Only” policy. Make sure all drafts of marketing materials are approved digitally and only final copies are printed.
  • Establish a relationship with an electronics recycling service for when you upgrade office equipment. They can ensure that hazardous materials are dealt with accordingly. They can also find places to donate outdated equipment that is still in working condition.

If your company produces hazardous waste or chemical byproducts, you already have a whole big set of regulations you have to follow. Look at whether there are stricter standards you can adhere to. Often, this can qualify you for environmental certifications, grants, tax deductions, and other tangible benefits. You also reduce the risk of having to change your processes later when waste disposal policies become stricter.

Think of “Green” Intersects

Building An Eco-Friendly Business

Some companies are more prone to green initiatives than others. For example, this large format printer. Their most obvious strains on the environment come from ink and paper. So, they committed to using water based soy inks in recyclable cartridges and recycling all paper and packaging. Think about where your company most closely impacts the environment and address those issues first.

These are only a few of the ways you can build an eco-friendly business from the ground up. Have you tried any of these methods? Share your experiences in the comments!

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