It is difficult for many people to see how their actions or decisions can have a significant impact on the environment, but this is not true when you are talking about business. Businesses produce materials that eventually end up in landfills or oceans, they buy products from suppliers who may be harming the environment, they make decisions that affect the natural resources available for future generations. And while most businesses don’t start with environmental protection as a goal of theirs (or maybe even know what that means), more and more are realizing just how important it is.
Why Businesses Need to be Environmentally Friendly
There are several reasons why business owners should make the effort to go green. Perhaps the most important reason is that it’s just the right thing to do! If your business can help reduce waste or pollution then you’ll feel good about what you’re doing. This may translate into more satisfied employees, better brand recognition, increased sales, and more. The point is, if you’re not making an effort to be environmentally friendly then someone else will likely take your place on the market.
How to go green in your business setting
Usually, a business will consult with experts for advice on becoming more sustainable. But even before asking others, business owners should also practice due diligence and educate themselves on ways to lessen their negative impact on the environment. Also, there are times when needs arise and expose parts of a business that needs improvement, sustainability-wise. Nevertheless, here are some common and simple ways to become more sustainable as a business:
Use sustainable panels for construction.
A sustainable building or green power structures include solar panels, wind turbines panels, and geothermal heating systems which use the ground to help heat a building. These types of green structures can reduce a business’s carbon footprint by a significant amount.
Purchase energy-efficient appliances and machines.
Many modern appliances have an “Energy Star” rating which means they are 10 times more efficient than other similar models that don’t have this rating. Look for Energy Star ratings when purchasing new appliances for your business. Also, check with local retailers to see if they offer rebates for buying “green”. For example, you might get $20 back on a $100 purchase of an Energy Star appliance.
Buy “green” vehicles and public transportation passes for employees.
Public transportation is a great way to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, which reduces pollution and reduces traffic. Buying transit passes for your employees is also a simple way to keep them happy and healthy (because they’re not driving). Be sure that there aren’t restrictions or regulations that disallow you from buying such services or goods for your employees if they happen to work too far away from home/workplace.
Donate unused office supplies to schools and charities.
Offices will sometimes have surplus stationery supplies or even unused equipment like computers and printers. While it’s good to look for recycling companies that can take in your unwanted supplies, your business can also opt to donate them instead. Schools can especially benefit from this, as it can be expensive to buy paper, pencils, pens, and other supplies for students regularly.
Regulations and Compliance Related to Environmental Protection
Even before starting operations, a business should have all the necessary permits, licenses, and procedures at the ready. This is true no matter what business you operate, whether it’s an office, manufacturing facility, logistics, etc. When it comes to protecting the environment, regulations may vary depending on the type of business. Most regulations are also enforced by local or federal agencies that oversee different aspects of environmental protection, so it’s best to research before making changes to a business’s operations.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a government agency that regulates businesses and their use of chemicals. Developing a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan has been mandatory for construction and commercial properties that have a large enough impervious surface cover to cause problems with stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff causes erosion, flooding, and water pollution.
As always, there are exceptions to every rule so be sure to do thorough research before taking action. If the law seems unclear or unfair then contact your local politicians, so they can vote on legislation that will help clarify it so you can make the most educated decision possible.
Businesses are responsible for their actions and should take every step necessary to reduce their negative impact on the environment, including using environmentally friendly products in their office. Also, businesses owners should be aware of any regulations that pertain to the environmental issues that affect their business, so they don’t accidentally break a law or regulation that could cause them trouble in the future.