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10 Steps Toward an Effective Green Small Business

When thinking about a “greener” office, do you envision a fresh coat of moss-colored paint, and then calling it done?

For small-business owners who already have too many items on the to-do list, researching and employing green strategies can seem like schedule overload. But it’s easy to boost energy efficiency, sustainability and environmental awareness in the office without spending much time — or even much money.

Here are 10 quick tips for making your workplace greener:

#1 Stake the Vampires: Take a look at the energy-saver settings on all electronics, and make sure they’re set to power down or off at the end of the day and on weekends. Many offices suffer high electricity bills from “vampire devices” that drain lots of energy when not in use.

#2 Check the Lights: Use motion-sensor lights on areas that are less busy or only used occasionally. This could involve installing sensors on certain rows in a warehouse or in conference rooms, for example.

#3 Go Organic: Use fair-trade, shade-grown or organic coffee in the office coffee pot. You’ll reduce employees’ exposure to pesticides and herbicides, while helping to protect rain forests, too.

#4 Replace Disposable Cups with Washable Mugs: This is a popular measure in many offices because it reduces waste. According to National Geographic, if an office of 15 people replaced three disposable cups per day with reusable mugs, they’d save about 11,000 paper cups from the landfill each year.

#5 Aim for a Paperless Office: Although this can be challenging, setting the goal to go paperless is important — and it gives you targets for best practices. For example, you could state that as of the fourth quarter of this year, all contracts will be sent through email (and electronically signed, if possible).

#6 Adjust the Temperature: In many offices, the air conditioning is set so high in the summer that employees wear sweaters at work. Setting the temp just a few degrees warmer during the summer months will be more comfortable and save you hundreds of dollars in energy bills.

#7 Share a Ride: Offer discounted bus passes and incentives for carpooling and bike riding. Not only will this help every employee have a lighter carbon footprint, but it will also show employees you care, which increases morale.

# 8 Buy Energy Star-Rated Lightbulbs, Fixtures and Appliances: Energy Star-Rated lightbulbs, fixtures and other electronics use far less energy than conventional options. Even better, use natural lighting whenever possible — it’s free.

#9 Use Power Strips for Computers, Printers and Other Peripheral: Power strips allow you to turn multiple devices off at once. It’s easier to remind to just hit one button at the end of the day (especially on Fridays).

#10 Get Employees Involved: You don’t need to do all the work yourself — employees are often excited to be part of a green movement and eager to share their ideas.

In general, many businesses find “going green” to be a strategy best achieved in slow, steady stages. Becoming more eco-conscious should be an ongoing priority, because over time it will help your bottom line. A coat of green paint doesn’t hurt, either — as long as it’s the low-VOC kind, of course.

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