How Your Business Can Help the Environment and Save Money


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By Kristina Anderson

Your office can generate a lot of waste that costs you money and hurts the planet. Fortunately, there are things every business can do to be a bit more environmentally sustainable while cutting costs.

Let There Be Light: To begin with, incandescent lights waste extreme amounts of energy and hike up your monthly bill. They also do not last. Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) are significantly better and last an estimated 8,000 hours. But if you really want to do this right, try LED. The sticker price is a bit more, but they will last more than five times longer. Nobody likes climbing a ladder to change a light bulb anyway!

Ditch the Disposables: Paper plates and plastic cutlery generate enormous amounts of waste. Plus keeping disposables in stock means constant trips to the store to buy more. Avoid recurring costs by going to a thrift store and buying real plates, silverware, and cups (they don’t have to match).  This will cost less than a few months worth of disposables, and will save you more trips to the store. Your employees will get used to washing their dishes, I promise.

Do-it-Yourself Disinfectant: Most store-bought disinfectants are toxic and smell funny, plus you have to keep buying them. Instead, buy a spray bottle (check out Target or Home Depot) and a cheap bottle of vodka. Fill the spray bottle with one-part vodka to four-parts water, screw the top back on, and you are set! This will sanitize computer screens, mold, counter tops, you name it.

Advanced tips for offices committed to long-term sustainability:

Go Paperless: Take the paper towels out of the restroom and install a hand dryer. Hand dryers use air to dry hands, so there is no residual waste involved. Plus you can stop buying paper towels. I highly recommend the Dyson Airblade (and we are not affiliated, so this is unbiased!). I have used hundreds of hand dryers and this one is the best. It is super fast and does not blow dirt particles from around the restroom back onto your hands.

Install Low-Flow Toilets: Low-flow toilets can save nearly two gallons of water per flush compared to their older, less conscientious counterparts. Smaller water usage equals a smaller water bill.

Filter, Don’t Bottle: Bottled water is expensive, horrible for the planet, unregulated, and leaks synthetic estrogen (BPA) into the water itself. Those huge water jugs you have delivered to your office aren’t so great either, so install a water filter in the sink. There’s no heavy lifting, there is not much upkeep required, and the water is always available. A friend of mine was working at NBC Universal when they decided to try their hand at sustainable cost-cutting, and this is exactly what they did in order save a ton of money for a huge, thirsty office.

For related articles, see:
Be the Office Eco-Hero!
Women Eco Leaders in Film, Fashion, Corporate Responsibility 

© 2012 SCGH, LLC.

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