Make Your Small Business More Eco-Friendly

Here on the West Coast, we’re known for being one of Canada’s most environmentally conscious provinces, but there’s still plenty of scope for improvement.

BC businesses accumulated almost three million tonnes of waste in 2014, an increase of over seven per cent since 2012. Despite access to recycling, composting, and information on green initiatives being more prevalent than ever, this figure formed part of a broader growth in waste across Canada.

Tackling this problem won’t require a sea-change from business owners. Instead, small sustained habit changes can make a profound environmental impact, as well as a positive effect on your company’s bottom line.

Brianne Miller, Co-Founder of Nada, Vancouver’s zero waste market, is a firm believer in the “Five R’s” for cutting down on waste:

“A great place to start is by doing a ‘waste audit’ of your business,” Brianne said.

“Take a look at the garbage you’re producing, the items you’re throwing out most, and tackle the issue. Remember the Five R’s and have them guide your waste decisions

  • Refuse Items you don’t need (junk mail, an over reliance on paper, plastic)
  • Reduce your consumption of the items you do need
  • Reuse materials and products wherever you can
  • Recycle what’s left
  • Rot (compost) any food waste you produce

“Getting your company toward the goal of being zero waste is not as difficult as you think,” she concluded.

In an effort to help your small business cut down on waste, we’ve put together a list of six tips for an eco-friendlier workplace.

Make Recycling Available

Combining a workplace recycling program with a company-wide effort to reduce waste won’t just help the environment, it will save your business money. Printers are a tremendous source of wasted paper in the workplace. Place recycle bins beside your printer, and encourage staff to print on both sides of an individual page. If possible, encourage staff to refrain from printing altogether. Placing recycling bins beside staff desks will also cut down on waste relating to food packaging.

Your recycling effort shouldn’t stop there, electronics and printer cartridges can also be recycled, sometimes for a rebate on new purchases. Office furniture can also be recycled, or bought cheaply second hand.

Energy Efficient/Programmable Lighting

Take a stroll around any business district at night and you’ll see countless offices and workplaces with their lights left on overnight. Not only is this a waste of energy, it’s also costing money to keep the lights on while nobody is home. Fit your workplace with programmable lighting that can be set to turn off automatically when nobody is at work. Even while the lights are on, switching to compact-flourescent (CFL) or LED lights can save you up to $200 per bulb over their lifetime.

Keep Things Modern

Those old desktop computer and monitor combos are commonplace because they’re reliable, but they are far from energy efficient. Substituting a laptop in their place can lead to an energy reduction of almost 90%, saving you money in the long run for an initial outlay. You can ensure you’re purchasing a laptop that’s energy efficient by looking for the 80 PLUS designation on the packaging. This means your laptop’s power supply is at least 80 per cent efficient.

Make A Splash

Following a summer where wildfires raged across much of British Columbia, the topic of water conservation has come to the fore. It’s relatively easy to save money and conserve this valuable resource in your small business. Endeavour to fix dripping taps and plumbing leaks. Consider the installation of efficient toilets and Energy Star rated laundry facilities. If your work requires outside water use, consider a high-efficiency pressure washer rather than a hose connected to a tap.

Cut Down on Handouts

We’ve all attended meetings where a small forest worth of paper handouts were distributed. Consider going paper-free for staff meetings, or emailing relevant handouts to staff members before the event. Alternatively, display the handouts on a projector screen during the meeting. This thought can also extend to company collateral such as brochures and leaflets. Make electronic PDF versions available to cut down on glossy paper use. Considering how much business is now carried out online, it’s not as far-fetched of a request as it might have once seemed.

Green Web Hosting

Energy conservation can even extend to your web hosting solution, with more and more Canadian companies offering eco-friendly web hosting services. These companies offset their carbon footprint by using renewable energy, planting trees, or buying carbon offsets. The good news is that most of these services are comparable in cost to those using fossil fuels. Companies offering service in Canada include Canadian Web Hosting, GreenGeeks, and Ethical Hosting.

Here to Help

No matter what stage of business, or what problem you face, Small Business BC offers a range of seminars and one-on-one advisory sessions to suit any business.

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