Bright Ideas That Will Make Your Business Greener


Going green is all the rage. From Al Gore to the neighborhood grocer, it has become a trend that corporations, politicians and consumers are trying to profit from. Earth Day 2008 saw an outpouring of green initiatives from major corporations – a far cry from the first Earth Day in 1970 that was seen as a counter-culture movement by a bunch of hippies.

This year, Macy’s (M) offered a 20% discount if you donated $5 to the National Park Fund, Dell (DELL) offered to plant tress for customers and Verizon (VZ) offered tips on saving the planet.

While there is nothing wrong with these efforts they are just as much about saving the planet as they arte providing good PR to the company. Major corporations have the resources to make major donations and grandiose gestures, but how does the small business “go green” and maintain profits?

It is actually quite simple. With little time and money, the small business owner can “go green,” improve the environment and reap the benefits of a little positive PR.

Here are three ways:

1. Reduce your paper consumption:
There was a time when computers were supposed to create a paperless office. Well, that sure didn't happen, did it? Paper use in offices is higher than ever.

But actually reducing the amount of paper your small business uses can have significant environmental and financial impact: Not only does it save forests and reduce landfill use, but it also saves energy and money.

• Institute desk-side recycling;
• Create memo and scratch pads out of used paper;
• Reuse old file folders by turning them inside-out;
• Recycle incoming shipping boxes into outgoing mail packages.

2. Change light bulbs:
Those squiggly new light bulbs can make a real difference. Called compact fluorescent light bulbs, they use far less energy than conventional light bulbs and last more than 10 times longer.

3. Use green products:
From environmentally friendly janitorial supplies and eco-office furniture to earth-friendly toner and recycled office products, there is fast becoming a plethora of green products to choose from when outfitting your business.

Yes, some of these may cost more and that may just be the price you pay for doing business this way.
Another thing to consider is buying electronics and other equipment that come with the "Energy Star" label. This EPA designation means that the product uses less energy than similar, standard products.

With a little effort and cost, you can make every day Earth Day.

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