In much the same way that plants and animals exist in an interwoven web that we call the environment, so business exists in an interwoven web called the economy. Sustainable business can be thought to exist at the intersection of three important areas: economy, environment, and ethics. (See What it Means to be Green.)
This is why it is so crucial to consider the Triple Bottom Line of people, planet, and profits in every business decision. Fortunately, a lot of evidence suggests that when businesses take the long-term view, practices that benefit the welfare of society and the environment actually improve profits and endurance.
Improving the “People” aspect of the triple bottom line requires integrating the concept of social responsibility into company decision-making. This means considering the impacts of business on society, and incorporating practices that benefit public interest and welfare. A good way to begin is by providing for employees.
Basic necessities like childcare and healthcare, including access to therapists, are important to the wellbeing of society and businesses. Companies can further improve employee health through preventive programs such as nutrition and exercise classes. Veg-Appeal, a locally owned San Diego business, provides short, lunchtime, worksite nutrition education and cooking demonstrations.
Empowering employees to participate in social and environmental justice programs benefits the Triple Bottom Line directly, through improvement of morale, and indirectly through their efforts. The Boston Consulting Group is ranked no.2 in FORTUNE magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, in part because of its Social Impact Practice Network (SIPN). Employees can also facilitate many green initiatives around the office.
Below are simple suggestions to green your business. They can be initiated and accomplished by a “Green Committee” of employees who are motivated to take ownership of their office space and reduce their environmental impact. Since green practices will vary depending on the nature and location of your business, empowering employees to find creative solutions will allow your business to adapt unique and innovative practices. These days you are bound to have at least a few “greenies” in your business.
If your business has already reached an advanced level of green, congratulations and good job! If you are just starting out, however, these are some good ideas to start with. Many of them you have probably heard before, maybe several times. I challenge you to take action now, or have your Green Team get started today.
- Use Less Paper
- Change the default setting on your computer so that the font is slightly smaller, margins are slightly wider, and printing is double-sided.
- Email newsletters instead of mailing.
- Sign up for paperless billing.
- Instead of purchasing water cups, encourage employees to bring in water bottles. Be sure to have reusable plates, mugs, and silverware in the kitchen instead of purchasing paper.
- Use Less Energy
- Turn off and unplug electronics not in use.
- In the winter have the thermostat set to 68 degrees or less, and in the summer 78 degrees or more.
- Use Less Water
- Install a water meter to monitor water use and check for leaks.
- Repair leaks immediately.
- Install water saving devices and variable flushing handles on toilets.
- Fit spray inserts into taps.
- Save paper that has been printed on one side to print test sheets on the opposite side, or create your own notepads.
- Use natural dish soap so you can water the office plants with the leftover dishwater.
- If you’re business is expanding, consider buying refurbished furniture.
- Make sure there are plenty of blue recycle bins around your building.
- Purchase paper products that contain the highest percentage of recycled post-consumer material as possible.
- If you are upgrading your electronics, make sure to bring the old items to an e-waste facility. If the items are still in working order, they can be refurbished and sold. If not, they can be dismantled in order to separate out reusable materials and properly dispose of toxic chemicals. See Download Your E-waste Here.
Green Envy Promotions is a local San Diego business, and member of the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce. Owner Elizabeth Rosales told me about a few tools that her business uses to be greener.
“Green Envy Promotions uses several simple methods of working in a green environment. We like, the US Green Chamber work with the lights off and try to use natural light from the sun as much as possible. I personally love my stapless stapler. It’s extremely useful – it saves on waste from not using staples and it saves on cost. Another green way of doing business is using a USB drive. I use my bamboo usb drive all the time for storing documents, files and for my presentations. It saves from printing and using paper.
I also like bringing in my own lunch and use repac sandwich bags. They are reusable and can be used over and over again. It saves on using wasteful plastic bags and of course on cost.
These are a few simple steps on working in a green environment. It’s easy, effective and it has benefited Green Envy Promotions by saving on cost.“