By: Zoe So, a Special to Overdrive
If all your business aims to make is money, then you’re not doing it right. Overfilled toxic waste dumps, child labor and nuclear melt-downs have all been brought to us by the pursuit of fortune. Isn’t it about time we started shifting our business focus a bit broader than a single bottom line?
As it becomes more apparent that we are running out of viable resources, water and even air, what’s it going to take to get Joe Businessman to kick himself into gear and make positive changes? You don’t have to chain yourself to a tree, start a non-profit and eat a vegan macrobiotic diet to make an impact on bettering our world. There are many relatively painless changes you can make to improve the environment.
Make Your Paper Go The Way of the Dodo
You might speculate that candy wrappers, dirty diapers and old food dominate our landfills, but they are, in fact, heavily burdened with office paper. According to the EPA, office paper accounts for 40 percent of all the space in our landfills, and the worst part of it is that paper is almost 100 percent recyclable.
So what can we do? Most offices don’t fully take advantage of paperlessness. Invoices, memos and especially emails don’t need to be printed out. Filing systems can be digitalized and backed up in case of crashes. Even post-it notes can be replaced with white boards. Nowadays, even most contracts can be signed and stored electronically. Every time you reach for a piece of paper, ask yourself if it’s really necessary.
Use Green Friendly Suppliers
There are some supplies that offices can’t live without, and for your essential overhead costs, there are plenty of green-friendly office suppliers ready to meet your needs. Each state generally has directories for local green-centered businesses. Oregon, for example, has Envirocenter.org, and California has Greenbiz.ca.gov. You can find them by simply conducting a search for “green businesses in [your state].”
Whether you print business cards online, or you want to find a water delivery company online, spending an extra 3.2 seconds of research locating the most environmentally friendly business in your price range is worth the effort. The future world will thank you.
Nip Your Energy Use in the Bud
According to The Economist, Americans waste more than 3 million dollars a year on “vampire electricity,” or electricity that’s not used, by setting appliances on standby or “sleep” mode. Although the study isn’t exact, as estimations have concluded that it is highly probable that a significantly higher amount of energy is wasted.
Although companies like Dell and Element have begun using technology like Energy Star, which helps cut down on idle energy wastes, our offices and homes are still bursting at the seams with devices that waste enough energy to zap the resources of 18 power plants. There are simple ways to combat this: unplug your computer when you aren’t using it, limit office printer usage to one or two hours a day, use natural lighting. It may not seem like a big deal, but when it all adds up it could save us years of desperation in the future. When you’re projecting your goals and bottom lines, focusing them on more than just profit will reward you with more than just money, because you can’t replace that with clean air!