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5 Simple Steps Your Business Can Take to Be More Eco-Friendly

A recent CNN report revealed that the U.S. is one of the top 10 polluting countries in the world.

Reducing our enormous ecological footprint will require the combined efforts of the government, individuals, and businesses.  While this may seem like a daunting task, there are five simple steps your business can take to be more eco-friendly - and as an added bonus, some of the steps can also reduce your operating costs.

Step 1: Reduce Power Use

Save energy by reducing power use throughout the building. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends programmable thermostats for the most energy-efficient use of your heating and air-conditioning system. For example, the thermostat can be programmed to activate the system an hour before employees arrive, as opposed to operating all night while the building is empty.

In addition, office equipment that is in “standby mode” continues to use small amounts of electricity. Known as “phantom” or “vampire” power loads, these continuous power saps can increase your company’s electricity costs by 10%. However, you can install power strips through the company so employees can conveniently turn off office equipment when it is not being used for extended periods of time.

Step 2: Look for the Star

Another way to reduce energy use is to purchase ENERGY STAR qualified office equipment and appliances. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if all of the computers sold in the U.S. adhered to ENERGY STAR standards, the savings would reach $1.8 billion a year, while the reduction in greenhouse emissions would be equivalent to the exhaust from two million vehicles.

From computers to electronics to heating and cooling to plumbing, products bearing the start can reduce energy consumption and costs. Many businesses also have refrigerators and dishwashers, and ENERGY STAR certified appliances can save your business anywhere from 10% to 50% on water and energy costs.

Another way to save energy is to leave at least a three-inch gap between the back of the appliance and the wall, which allows for better air circulation. Also, clean the condenser coils on a regular basis. Both poor circulation and an accumulation of dust and debris will cause the appliances to work harder, which uses more energy – and increases your energy bill.  

Step 3: Reduce Paper Use

According to Mother Nature Network’s statistics on U.S. paper use and waste, every three seconds, 9,960 pieces of business mail are printed, mailed, and thrown in the trash. In addition, every five minutes, Americans use 15 millions sheets of office paper. 

Your business can help to reduce these numbers by swapping out flyers, circulars, handbills, pamphlets, and other forms of paper advertisements with opt-in email marketing. Also consider placing environmental messages, such as “Please consider the environment before printing this email,” at the bottom of your email communications.

Step 4: Think Before You Drink

Mother Nature Network also states that five million plastic beverage bottles are tossed in the trash every five minutes. In addition, the average office worker tosses 500 disposable cups in the trash each year.

If your company provides bottled water for employees, consider discontinuing this environmentally-expensive process and installing a water filter on the faucets. Then, purchase stainless steel or BPA-free water bottles. (BPA stands for bisphenol A and is an unhealthy chemical found in hard plastic bottles.) Also, although you’re encouraging recycling efforts, discourage your employees from reusing plastic bottles, since they are a breeding ground for bacteria.

Although many people may prefer bottled water to tap water, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) states that consumers can’t verify the purity of these products. EWG tests revealed the presence of 38 contaminants in 10 well-known bottled water brands.

Step 5: Make the Connection 

Contact the EPA for more eco-friendly tips. The Agency can provide you with specific information for your particular industry, and also help you connect with other green-minded businesses. In addition, once you begin to operate as an eco-friendly business, the EPA can furnish you with promotional material to help you market your company as being green, and this designation will appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. It’s a win-win situation.


Terri Williams writes business book summaries for EBSCO Publishing and ethics articles for Loyola University Chicago. In addition, she writes business, communications, and marketing articles for various websites.