Why a green plan makes good business sense
Read time: 4 minutes
One of the first rules for creating a sustainable business is learn to do more with less. Reducing waste is in the best interest of not just the environment but also your business.
Having an environmental plan will save your business money by reducing costs. Furthermore, the plan doesn't have to cost much—or even anything—to develop, and can be carried out with minimal effort.
Small changes, big savings
Start your green plan with small changes that will save you money quickly. Turning off lights and equipment at night will cut your energy bill, often significantly. You can also eliminate waste by changing the raw materials you use, modifying your processes and introducing a paperless system to save on printing and photocopying costs.
By spending a little money, you can save even more. For example, exercising due diligence regarding the environmental condition of real estate purchases can save you considerable expense down the line. And servicing of your equipment will help maintain its energy efficiency, prolong its lifespan and minimize repair costs. And purchasing energy-efficient equipment can cost somewhat more but save you substantial sums in the long run.
Another benefit of creating a green business comes from the marketing opportunities it provides. The demand from customers for environmentally responsible products and services is growing. So, let your customers know about the steps you are taking to minimize waste, lessen your environmental impact and be more energy efficient. Just make sure your marketing messages reflect real, measurable progress or else you leave yourself open to accusations of greenwashing.
Create an environmental plan
So improving your environmental performance makes good business sense from all perspectives. But where do you start?
As with any new strategic project, it's a good idea to create and implement a solid plan. Hiring a professional can be helpful when you want an outside perspective.
Here are some simple steps that any business can take to save resources. These ideas are often low cost, and can be as simple as raising employee awareness.
- Decrease the amount of raw materials you use by improving the efficiency of your operation.
- Buy durable, long-lasting materials and equipment.
- Use raw materials that are non-toxic or that pollute less, such as water-based paints rather than solvent-based paints.
- Use recycled materials where possible (e.g., reclaimed lumber, post-consumer waste paper).
- Create less waste by reducing the amount of packaging.
- Encourage recycling wherever possible—consider working together with other businesses to share the cost of recycling.
- Review your water usage and see if you can eliminate any waste by, for example, replacing leaking fixtures or turning water off when not in use.
- Reduce water pressure where possible.
- Buy vehicles that are fuel efficient or use alternative power sources.
- Minimize driving by planning deliveries and pickups carefully.
- Keep your vehicles well maintained.
- Educate drivers about fuel-efficient driving (e.g., driving at the speed limit, reducing idling time, keeping tires inflated).
- Purchase energy-efficient equipment, such as those with the Energy Star seal. This equipment can save you up to 75% in energy costs.
- Install occupancy sensors on lights in less-used areas.
- Use energy-efficient light bulbs.
- Make use of windows and blinds to help manage temperature and lighting conditions.
- Install reflectors on light fixtures to make them more efficient.
- Turn off equipment, such as computers, monitors, photocopiers and appliances, when not in use.
- Use cold water instead of hot where possible.
- Consider alternative electricity sources, such as wind-turbines or solar panels.
- Keep your equipment well maintained.
- Consider using new teleconferencing technology rather than travelling.
The federal government has a variety of programs that encourage businesses to improve their environmental performance. These programs offer financing or grants to improve manufacturing processes, reduce vehicle emissions and purchase energy-efficient equipment. Also, have a look at the specialized programs that target the energy efficiency of buildings. Most provincial governments also offer tips for small businesses that want to conserve energy.