The Smart & Sustainable Way to Go Green
Since 1970, every April has been recognized as Earth Month. So, with only one month dedicated to the environmental movement, it’s now more important than ever to get things corrected and heading in the green direction.
U.S. Produces More Than 12% of the Earth’s Solid Waste
While Americans make up only 4% of the world’s population, its citizens produce more than 12% of the planet's trash. That equates to a staggering 4.9 pounds of municipal solid waste per US citizen. That’s a lot of garbage. Eventually, the materials and products produced for consumption end up in a landfill—and they’re not going anywhere for a long time.
What Does Going Green Mean?
The need to go green is more prevalent than ever. But what does going green really mean? For businesses, going green could come to life with a number of initiatives on a variety of scales. Everything from being responsible for their carbon footprint to catering to consumer buying power with environmentally-friendly products and services, to simply providing their employees with opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle.
How Can Businesses Go Green?
1. Take active steps to reduce their carbon footprint
2. Offer environmentally friendly products and services
3. Provide employees eco-friendly opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle
Reduce, Reuse & Recycle
Let’s talk about those three R’s. Three very important r words in the future of the planet and business. Reduce, reuse and recycle. You know that circular symbol with the folded arrows? The one that has become synonymous with recycling is actually the icon to reduce, reuse and recycle. Some people might not realize that recycling comes last for a reason. The goal is to have human beings reduce what they consume, then reuse what they have consumed, before finally recycling it.
Taking Green Steps Around the Office
While reducing and reusing what we consume is extremely important and vital to a healthy planet, finding ways to recycle is an easy first step businesses and their employees can participate in. It’s as easy as setting up recycling waste cans in and around breakrooms, employee work areas or other places employees discard trash. Having recycling bins on-hand for larger items or even the collection of smaller materials like aluminum cans is a must. Not everything falls into the three R category, so providing trash can and bin options for employees is extremely helpful.
When you stop and think about it, humans generate a lot of waste. Consider the office cafeteria or work kitchen. All of the plastic or paper bowls, cups, plates, utensils and napkins end up somewhere. Going green lets you give Mother Nature a break but also gives your employees an opportunity to do so as well. Choosing biodegradable, recyclable, or compostable food trays, drinking cups, to-go food containers, napkins and cutlery helps reduce your carbon footprint and offer options that can be recycled.
Take a look around the office or workspace, chances are there are probably even more opportunities to go green. For example, what about a water bottle filling station? Bringing your own reusable water bottle reduces the number of plastic bottles an average American uses by 156 plastic bottles annually.
Shipping products can also be environmentally managed. Using packaging products made with recycled materials also allows businesses another option for going green.
LED light bulbs use 75% less energy, and last up to 25 times longer, than incandescent bulbs.
Another idea for going green is the lightbulb. One of the simplest changes businesses and residences can make is to switch to energy efficient lighting. LED light bulbs use at least 75% less energy, and last up to 25 times longer, than incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs can last an average 25,000 hours, while incandescent bulbs usually only last somewhere around 750 hours. It costs an average of $240 to light an incandescent bulb for 25,000 hours, compared to lighting an LED bulb for just $40 over that same time frame. As a result, switching to LED lightbulbs can potentially save a business thousands of dollars over the course of a single decade.
Besides the significant amount of savings that results from using LED light bulbs, the lessened environmental impact and workforce productivity is equally as substantial.
1. LED light bulbs can be recycled, unlike incandescent bulbs
2. Employee productivity & performance is shown to increase with LED bulbs
3. LED light bulbs offer a 20% increase in visible light quality vs incandescent bulbs
4. A reduction in heat, emissions, and noise occurs with LED bulb usage
5. LED light bulbs do not contain toxic mercury
Green Opportunities Outside the Office
Considering green options outside of the office can also result in several environmentally friendly choices. Take the rubber speed bump for example. Made from recycled rubber, this eco-smart speed bump allows you to use recycled materials. Providing a workforce the opportunity to get outside for some sunshine and fresh air at picnic tables and benches is another green option. Not only does it foster a positive mood and productivity, but it also saves on energy expenses if lights and monitors are shut down while they are on break.
A Greener Return for Your Bottom Line
As you’ve learned, taking actionable steps to transform your business into a smart, eco-friendly company starts with some small, yet simple changes. Going green will not only result in a smaller carbon footprint, but it will also benefit your business in terms of increased financial savings. Here are several ways companies can go green beyond the basics of recycling. These will require more involvement, but net a higher return for your bottom line, as well as for the planet.
1. Use clean, renewable energy to power your business (wind, solar, hydro powered)
2. Replace inefficient, outdated, or broken equipment with green energy or energy efficient options
3. Move to a paperless company with the use of servers or cloud-data storage
4. Use natural materials/ energy like sunlight, wood or stone materials and live plants.
5. Utilize “green” suppliers for your products and services
6. Organize community cleanup/recycle drives
The hope is that by taking these steps, big or small, we can begin to do our part and make a difference with each green initiative we undertake. After all, we only have one planet, let's start doing something to protect it.
 United States Environmental Protection Agency, National Overview: Facts and Figures on Materials, Wastes and Recycling, 2022
 Grand View Research: Reusable Water Bottle Market Size Report, 2022-2030
The information contained in this article is for informational, educational, and promotional purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. It is the reader’s responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, rules, codes and regulations. If there is any question or doubt in regard to any element contained in this article, please consult a licensed professional. Under no circumstances will Global Industrial® be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on this article.