Running an eco-friendly business is good for the environment, good for your business image – and good for your finances too. Consumers and clients are becoming increasingly interested in how businesses they work with or buy from are taking steps to be more environmentally-friendly. As an article by the Business Development Bank of Canada explains,
“In many industries, (being environmentally friendly) is now essential for attracting and retaining customers, employees and suppliers.”
So, here are five tips on how you can make your business, whatever its size, more environmentally-friendly for 2019.
1 Save energy at every opportunity
If you’re reading this at your workplace, take a minute to look around and spot any energy being wasted. Are there computers switched on but nobody working at them? Are lights switched on that could be turned off, both inside and outside? Any devices on standby such as photocopiers, printers or display screens? Is the heating / HVAC system making your workplace too warm – or not warm enough? Taking small steps to reduce energy consumption wherever and whenever you can, will help reduce your energy bills and help conserve energy too.
2 Invest in an energy audit
If you own or lease your business premises, an energy audit can reveal how you are using energy, and how you can improve energy efficiency. The Save on Energy incentive can cover up to 50% of your audit costs, depending on your premises size. Almost any business can receive this incentive, including:
- Commercial buildings, including offices, retail stores, restaurants, hotels and warehouses
- Institutional buildings, including hospitals, schools, universities, colleges, government and civic buildings
- Industrial buildings, including manufacturing facilities and warehouses
- Multi-family buildings, including apartments, social housing and condominiums
- Agricultural facilities, including dairy, swine or poultry farms, greenhouses and nurseries
Small businesses can apply for free energy assessments, and incentives towards upgrades, such as the Small Business Refrigeration program and the Small Business Lighting program.
For more details, see the Save on Energy website
3 Cut down on waste
Much of our everyday business waste can be recycled, such as paper, cardboard and recyclable packaging – if your business provides the facilities. The more you can offer employees efficient and easy ways to recycle and reduce waste, the more likely they are to do it. If you change from plastic cups for drinks to recyclable cups, provide recycling points where employees can dump the cups!
Think too about recycling food waste, even from a small office. Here’s how one initiative uses food waste from offices in the GTA to create natural biofertilizer for Ontario farms and community gardens.
4 Keep data secure
Security and being environmentally-friendly can go hand in hand. Use a commercial paper shredding company to securely dispose of your printed documents, and you’ll be avoiding data breeches or leaks. All your paper will be securely shredded and recycled, along with all those metal staples and paperclips. (Check with your provider for items allowed.)
Many shredding providers also offer a hard drive destruction service, for the secure destruction of old or broken drives, USBs and data stored in office equipment and devices such as photocopiers or printers. The process totally destroys the drive, making it physically impossible to retrieve any data, and the materials in the drive can be recycled.
Make sure, too, that any end-of-life electronics are recycled, after data has been removed. The Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES) estimate that up to 90% of the components in electronic equipment can be recycled and reused. Simply drop off unwanted electronics at your nearest Recycle My Electronic location, or call them about disposal of larger equipment such as floor-standing printers or phone systems. For more information, see Recycle my Electronics.
5 Prevent pollution (P2)
As the Government of Canada website says: “P2 is good for the environment, for consumers and for your employees.” The site suggests seven techniques to reduce pollution:
- Substituting materials to use more environmentally friendly alternatives where possible
- Redesigning or reformulating products to try to improve their overall environmental impacts over their entire life cycle
- Changing equipment or processes to improve efficiencies and reduce environmental impact
- Preventing spills and leaks
- Recovering, reusing and repairing on-site to reduce the need to new purchases
- Changing inventory and buying practices to reflect your ‘green’ values
- Changing operating practices and providing training so employees can spot potential pollution and report it quickly and easily.
For more information, and a quick pollution self-assessment, visit this government site.
Bonus Ask for advice at your next Chamber networking event
Our Business After Five events are the perfect opportunity to ask local business people to share how they have “gone green”!