Friday, April 22, is Earth Day and we’re coming to the end of Earth Month. It’s a time to increase our commitment to saving and sustaining the planet we call home.
Small business owners already have so much to deal with every day. So why should you even bother to care about Earth Day, Earth Month or worry about environmental issues any day, for that matter?
“It’s not worth my time,” I can imagine some of you saying. “Small businesses need to concentrate on keeping their workers employed, their customers satisfied, their companies in business, and all that environmental talk is just a bunch of political baloney.”
But going green is actually a smart move for small businesses, regardless of your political or environmental philosophy. Even if you’re not worried about saving the planet, I’m guessing you’d like to save money. It’s just good business to reduce your energy consumption (especially with the cost of gas going through the roof!), And when you do, you’ll also reduce your bills.
Better yet, saving the environment may actually help save your business. Thousands, if not millions, of small businesses have already been impacted by climate change, especially due to fires, floods, hurricanes, tornados. These “acts of God” are becoming more frequent and more dangerous due to “acts of humans.” And small businesses may be the companies most vulnerable to climate change because they typically have: fewer resources to deal with unexpected disasters: or to relocate or adapt as climate changes affect their business.
REBUILDING AFTER ‘ACTS OF GOD’: Insurance and aid are not covering the cost of disasters in America. Is it time to relocate?
I’ve got seven easy steps you can take to save money and the earth at the same time:
1. Aggressively go after waste:
“Waste” is just something you paid for but did not consume. It might be lights and heat left on over the weekend, over-ordered inventory, excessive raw materials due to inefficient production methods. Examine every aspect of your business to be more efficient, use fewer resources and cut out waste.
2. Reduce packaging:
In my condo building, almost all of the stuff in the recycling container is packaging material. Much of that won’t actually be recycled, and recycling itself uses lots of energy. Instead, reduce the problem at the source. If you sell or ship things, find ways to lessen the packaging to its absolute minimum amount. If possible, find ways for customers to bring their own packaging. Use the smallest, most easily recycled packages and materials possible.
3. Buy and use environmentally friendly products:
Whether you are a manufacturer, retailer, service business, whenever possible, choose non-toxic, non-plastic, recycled products.
4. Reduce commutes:
Commuting devours an immense amount of energy and time. Allowing more employees to continue or start to work from home means less energy use. And encourage – even reward – employees to walk, bike, carpool or take public transportation.
5. Reduce “vampire” energy drain:
At night, electronic equipment often remains in “standby” mode: rather than actually being turned off. Turn equipment fully off before you leave every night. The extra minute it takes to warm these up in the morning isn’t really that much of a hardship, is it?
SKY-HIGH ELECTRIC BILL? Save with smart power outlets, power strips, LED bulbs, thermostats:
6. Buy hybrid or electric cars or trucks:
Need a new car or truck for your small business? Make energy efficiency a priority. One look at the price of gas and you’ll immediately understand the financial benefit as well as the environmental benefit of such a choice. Whatever you drive, however, make sure your cars and vans are well maintained and tires are properly inflated. That reduces energy use.
7. Do not buy or accept crypto-currency:
“Crypto” may seem cool, but every: cryptocurrency transaction is actually a large use of energy: due to the computer processing power required to mine bitcoin. In fact, according to one study, every BitCoin transaction is equivalent to six weeks of electricity consumption of a US household. Some coal plants have been reopened just to power crypto transactions (and coal is a dirtier source of energy than renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydroelectric).
Little things add up. Reduce waste, turn off lights, wear a sweater when you’re cold and open a window when you’re warm. You’ll have more greenbacks in your pocket when you choose to go green. And you’ll help save the planet as well as your business. Make every day Earth Day in your small business.