15 Easy Ways Your Business Can Go Earth Friendly

Want to save money by reducing your costs, gain time by increasing your efficiency and build more reasons for clients to do business with you?  Be earth friendly!

By following the familiar reduce, reuse, and recycle mantra you can save financially, which will allow you to invest more into growing your business or free up family finances.

You can increase your efficiency and get more organized by making small “green” changes such as printing less. For example, fewer piles of overflowing paper will make it easier to keep that working space clean and uncluttered so you can stay focused.

Sharing that you care (whether it’s about the planet, the people, or some other angle or cause) helps you connect with your market. In fact, it’s smart marketing!

So with those benefits in mind, here are some small steps you can take to make your business greener:

1) Reduce the amount of paper you use and reuse/recycle as much as possible.

Before you print, think. Do you *really* need to print out that email or document? If you just need a backup copy, pick up an inexpensive USB thumb drive and use it to save copies of important files.

Keep a small box or tray for paper that you’ve printed on but no longer need and announce to your children that they are welcome to color, paint, cut, etc with the paper. Kids don’t mind recycled paper and some really creative projects can result from paper that’s already been used.

2) Monitor your electricity usage. 

Buy EnergyStar appliances and equipment when you can.  Watch the energy usage on any appliances you purchase–computers, sergers, sewing machines–whatever tools are required for your trade. Always turn them off when not in use.

3) Go paperless for billing.

Many business models easily lend themselves to e-billing. If yours does, do it. It will save you not only paper/envelopes, but also time and postage. Bills get where they need to go quicker, too.

4) Use organic, recycled and/or natural elements.

If you’ve got choices in the materials you use, take a few minutes to research your options. You may be pleasantly surprised by the range of choices available.

5) Choose reusable or electronic.

Instead of notebooks and paper for your to do lists, consider a dry erase board or go to a digital online version.

Try Google Calendar instead of a paper planner.

If your products require certain materials during the production process, can you choose something reusable instead of disposable?

6) Buy in bulk. You’ll save time as well as trips back and forth to the store if you purchase in bulk.

7) Change your lighting. Open the windows in your home office or working area and enjoy the beautiful, natural light! Replace your old style light bulbs with energy-saving fluorescent bulbs to save energy and reduce your electric bill.

8) Choose a VA (virtual assistant) or outsource to independent contractors online.

Work with employees or contractors who work from their homes and you’ll help save the gas and emissions from cars driving back and forth as well gain as many other benefits.

9) Combine errands and schedule meetings selectively.

Can you do them all on one day? Fewer trips in your car are better. If you can eliminate some errands by having the USPS carrier (who’s already driving by) pick up packages or meeting with clients via Skype instead of in-person, consider it.

10) Buy Green Tags or Go 100% Replanted.

With green tags you can compensate for your CO2 usage. I purchase mine through https://www.greentagsusa.org/GreenTags/index.cfm

Through http://www.replanttrees.org you can have trees planted to make up for your paper usage.

11) Choose your packaging materials carefully.

You can find green packing materials starting at http://www.sustainablepackaging.org or http://clearbags.com/?category|BIOBAGS Recycle or reuse when feasible.

12) Deliver your products digitally.

Can you offer a digital version of your products? How about offering your patterns as a PDF download? Or a PDF ebook option of your printable book? Encourage the digital options. Check out http://www.e-junkie.com or Premise for WordPress for an easy way to sell digital items online.

13) Sell locally.

No need for shipping if you sell to local customers.

Try craft shows or farmers markets if they fit your products. You can find listings online at http://www.indiecraftfairguide.com or http://www.indiecraftshows.com

Depending on your products you could also work out discounts or commission based deals with tourist shops, locally owned bookstores and other businesses or organizations in your local area.

14) Support green businesses.

Does your webhost power their servers with green energy? Does your printer offer recycled paper for brochures or business cards?

Look for ways to support other businesses who are making an effort to be green.

15) Share your commitment!

Websites listed below maintain link directories of eco-aware businesses. Add yours if you’re taking action steps to be earth friendly.

Got more suggestions? Leave a comment below and share your ideas.

Image Credit: jaylopez/sx.hu

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11 Comments

  1. Michelle,

    Thanks for these great tips.

    A few reactions:

    5. I dragged my feet on giving up my paper pocket calendar, but since getting a smart phone and was able to sync my computer and phone, I’ve been a happy camper. I’m happy to say I’m fully weaned from a pocket calendar.

    6. Caution about buying in bulk. Make sure it’s something you use frequently or can keep track of once it’s in your cabinet. My pantry was so full at one time that the canned milk had expired (by a long shot) by the time I discovered it all the way in the back of the cabinet. It’s no fun wasting food.

    9. Combine errands and meetings. I mastered this one when I was chauffeuring kids and grandkids for years. One time I scheduled physicals for my first three all at once when they were young. The doctor was surprised when he walked into the examining room to see three topless kids sitting side by side on the table.
    Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D. recently posted… What’s Trending When Publishing and Literacy Shake Hands?My Profile

    1. Hey Flora,

      Me, too on the calendar! I really didn’t want to switch from paper but about 4 months ago I finally did and I’ve Google calendar setup to sync with TimeDriver and show up on my computers, Kindle Fire, and iPod touch — I’m so more more organized now. :)

      With office supplies buying in bulk works well (since paper has no expiration date) but for food it can be a challenge. I’ve had the same thing happen with canned milk. Must be something about that specific item… LOL

      Love the approach on the appointments for your kiddos. Great strategy.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 15 Easy Ways Your Business Can Go Earth FriendlyMy Profile

  2. Hello Michelle,

    I agree with Flora when you chauffeur kids and grand kids you become a master at combing various tasks. As a single divorced mom of 4, many of the things we did to control our monthly expenses not only saved us thousands of dollars but were also good for the environment.

    Now that my children are all grown these environmentally friendly habits are still with me.

    Your tips are easy to weave into the fabric of everyday life. # 1, 2, 3,5,7,9, and 11 are part of my everyday living. #6 is not important now that my children are grown.

    I Hope you had fun with your family on this beautiful Earth Day 2012.
    Adalia John recently posted… 9 Things I Do For Earth Day Every DayMy Profile

    1. Isn’t that great? I love that being a conscious shopper can fit with a budget. :)

      We did have a nice day, hope you did, too, Adalia.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 15 Easy Ways Your Business Can Go Earth FriendlyMy Profile

  3. Awesome tips! I do so many of these already. And the great thing is, not only is it good for the environment, it’s great for your bottom line!
    Nicole Bandes recently posted… Why Reality TV May be Good For YouMy Profile

    1. Hey Nicole, you’re absolutely right. :) I love when doing the smart thing is smart for more than one reason. Win-win all around.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 15 Easy Ways Your Business Can Go Earth FriendlyMy Profile

  4. Brilliant post Michelle. So good to see people spreading this type of advice. Keep shining the light, one by one, we can get people to make the changes.
    Neil Butterfield recently posted… How a healthy woman really works – the ultimate guideMy Profile

  5. Wow, it looks like there is a lot more I can be doing to reduce my carbon footprint.

    Many of those changes are easy to make for most businesses, and could make a huge difference. I hope that everyone can take at least one point away from this that they can improve on, :)
    Sam recently posted… Time to be differentMy Profile

  6. Great stuff. Long live paperless business. My wife & I try to be as green as possible. People should endeavor to work from home so that they cut down on traveling. There are so many small ways that each of us can make a huge difference to protecting mother earth.
    Neil Butterfield recently posted… Digestive Health: How to avoid discomfort & stomach ailmentsMy Profile

  7. Buying in bulk is a great way to save the environment and your pocket. It costs less to transport and uses less packaging. Bulk purchases are also typically less expensive.

  8. Awesome post Michelle. I am proud to say that I adhere to most of what you have suggested here. Just this weekend, we had LED electricity saving globes installed and we are getting a geyser timer switch installed. We are paperless and used boards to jot down any notes. :-) We also work from home and do not travel much by car.

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