Make Your Small Business More Eco-Friendly

Although BC is known for being one of Canada’s most environmentally-conscious provinces, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. BC residents accumulated almost three million tonnes of waste in 2020, with nearly two-thirds coming from industrial, commercial, and institutional sources. 

Tackling this issue doesn’t require a total overhaul of business processes. Instead, introducing small, sustained, eco-friendly habits can have a profound impact and boost your company’s bottom line.

Where Should You Start?

Brianne Miller, Co-Founder of Nada – Vancouver’s zero-waste market that ceased operations in 2023 – firmly believes in the “Five R’s” for reducing 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. Getting your company toward the goal of being zero waste is not as difficult as you think.” 

Take a look at the Five R’s and keep them in mind to help guide your waste decisions:

  1. Refuse items you don’t need (junk mail, an overreliance on paper or plastic).
  2. Reduce your consumption of the items you do need.
  3. Reuse materials and products wherever you can.
  4. Recycle what’s left.
  5. Rot (compost) any food waste you produce.

To help your small business cut down on waste, we’ve put together a list of six tips to create a more eco-friendly workplace:

1. Make Recycling and Compost Available

Combining a workplace recycling program with a company-wide effort to reduce waste doesn’t just help the environment, it also saves your business money. 

Printers are an immense source of waste in the workplace. To combat this, place recycling bins beside your printer and encourage staff to print on both sides of an individual page. If possible, discourage staff from printing altogether. Additionally, placing recycling and compost bins in the staff room reduces garbage, and lessens your waste’s environmental impact. 

Your waste management efforts shouldn’t stop there. Electronics and printer cartridges can be recycled, sometimes for a rebate on new purchases. Office furniture can also be recycled or bought inexpensively second-hand.

2. Install Energy-Efficient, Programmable Lighting

Keeping lights on overnight is a waste of energy and money. To resolve this, introduce energy-efficient, programmable lights that can be set to turn off when the office is empty. Even while the lights are on, switching to compact-fluorescent (CFL) or LED lights can save you up to $200 per bulb over their lifetime.

3. Keep Things Modern

Substituting desktop computers and monitors for laptops can lead to an energy reduction of almost 90 percent. Despite the initial expense, you’ll save money in the long run and help the environment.

Ensure you’re purchasing a laptop that’s energy efficient by looking for the 80 Plus designation on the packaging. This signifies that your laptop’s power supply is at least 80 percent efficient.

4. Conserve Water

It’s relatively easy to save money and conserve water in your small business. Aim to fix plumbing leaks promptly. Consider the installation of efficient toilets and Energy Star-rated laundry facilities. Also, if your work requires outside water use, consider a high-efficiency pressure washer rather than a hose connected to a tap.

5. Go Paperless

Consider going paperless for meetings, or emailing relevant documents to staff members before events. Alternatively, display the documents on a projector screen during meetings. 

This can also be extended to company collateral such as brochures and leaflets. Make PDF versions available, or introduce QR codes to cut down on 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.

6. Use 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. 

Canadian companies offering this service include Canadian Web Hosting, GreenGeeks, and Ethical Hosting.

Small Business BC is Here to Help

SBBC is a non-profit resource centre for BC-based small businesses. Whatever your idea of success is, we’re here to provide holistic support and resources at every step of the journey. Check out our range of business webinars, on-demand E-Learning Education, our Talk to an Expert Advisories, or browse our business articles.