Monday, January 18, 2010

Tip: Be A Green Small Business, Part 2

I worked on many blog posts over the years with Jenny Martinez, Creative Director at, when we were with the Cartfly and Sellit brands. Please enjoy Part 2 of our "recycled" Green Small Business series from back in July of 2008.
We started with Marketing Materials and Shipping Supplies, but why stop there? Greening your office can also mean saving some cash. Part 2 of Being A Green Small Business: Your Office and Supplies.

Whether you work from your kitchen table on the weekends or have a dedicated office space with a staff, here are some tips to get you started.

1) Office Supplies

Being a designer and merchant running my own business I tend to burn through a lot of paper if I'm not careful. I've learned to get into the habit of printing on both sides for drafts, which also cuts down on my paper costs. I have a paper-only bin in my office that I toss fully used paper to (or this can be shredded to become free packing material!). And I support businesses that make recycled products by purchasing 100% post consumer recycled paper and supplies.

Toner Cartridges
Instead of throwing disposable ink cartridges into landfill, you can use refillable computer ink cartridges. Most office supply stores carry these products now, but if you need a good online source The Green Office is a great place to start.

2) Equipment & Energy

Compact Fluorescent Lighting
This is an easy thing to check off the list. Your electric bill will drop and the bulbs will last longer. Don't forget you have to dispose of these properly because they contain mercury. Home Depot recently started a CFL disposing program.

Power Strips
Another easy one. Don't plug your chargers directly into the wall, they will always drain power whether or not your device is plugged in to charge. Add them onto power strips and switch the strip off when not in use.

Energy Star Rated
You can find Energy Star fax machines, copiers, printers and more. These will use less energy, save money and have less of an impact on the environment. Dell even has a line of Energy Smart computers.

Electronics Disposal
If an older electronic is not something you can sell or give away, as a last resort there are companies that will properly dispose your toxic gadgets. I've used Green Citizen who "provides convenient, safe and accountable solutions that make it easy for individuals and organizations to help save the environment from harmful electronic waste."

Energy Audit
If you've got a dedicated office space you can find out what changes to make by getting an energy audit. Most utilities offer this service for your business at a reasonable cost. And your changes are likely to offset this initial cost.

3) Shared Kitchen Space

Water Filters On Tap
Wow, Americans spend more than $8 Billion a year on bottled water. Install a water filter that will cost pennies a gallon, instead of expensive bottled water. You won't notice a taste difference and you won't have to recycle all that plastic.

Bring your own mug and do away with the disposable paper and styrofoam cups. Make sure that the cups are washed with green cleaners and you're totally good. Did you know that according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency more than 3 million tons of polystyrene is made in the U S each year and almost all of it ends up in landfill? This stuff practically never goes away.

Green Coffee
Oh how the office loves it's coffee. But do we realize that most coffee is imported after being cultivated on small farms in the tropics? For the highest standards, buy coffee that bears the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal of approval. This means that this product is from farmers who pledged to control pollution, conserve natural resources and wildlife habitat, while treating their workers responsibly.

For Further Reading and Advanced Greening!
The amount of online information about eco-responsible practices is endless. In addition to the links above, here are 3 great online resources all aimed at reducing your environmental impact.

Green Living Toolbox from Mashable
(80+ Green Sites & Resources)

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