Seven ways to make your online and offline business more eco-friendly

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Consumers who feel passionate about going green seek out companies with a focus on sustainability. In a recent study, researchers found that across every category, sales for sustainable products grew by at least double over non-sustainable counterparts. Even though your upfront costs for going green might be a bit higher, the long-term savings and profitability of committing to sustainability will balance out that investment.
If you’ve been thinking about making your business more eco-friendly but aren’t sure where to start, consider these seven key ways to make both an online and offline business greener.
1. Get an energy audit
Brick-and-mortar stores should begin with an energy audit. Your local power company may offer one for free, or you can hire an independent consultant. You don’t have to go completely solar to take advantage of energy savings such as programmable thermostats and insulated window coverings. Look for ways to reduce the overall energy your company uses in day-to-day operations.
Think about small changes, such as adding motion sensor lights in bathrooms or opening windows for fresh air rather than turning on the air conditioning on days with mild weather.
2. Seek out green website hosting
When it comes to sustainability, not all web hosting companies are equal. Perhaps the majority of your business is an online model, and you aren’t sure how you could save on energy usage. Fortunately, you can commit to the environment by seeking out companies with green practices. Green hosting companies advertise themselves as such but dig into what methods make their company green before choosing a company.
Look for a server that follows green practices in every possible area of their operations. You can do your part toward encouraging bigger companies, such as large hosting companies, to develop green practices by taking your business to a group with the same commitment you have.
3. Choose green promotional products
Do you regularly set up booths and attend trade shows to get the word out about your product or service? If you’re touting yourself as a green-friendly company, make sure everything about your booth is eco-friendly too. Hand out promotional items created from entirely recycled materials, for example.
Pass out items that encourage others to love the earth, such as a reusable tote bag or seed packets with your company design on the package. Look for recycled promotional items as well as products that encourage people to consider the environment.
4. Avoid sending and opening spam
Online, reduce your carbon footprint by limiting the time you spend surfing mindlessly. Don’t send or open unwanted emails. Every year, around 62 trillion spam emails use as much energy as 1.6 million cars. Every second you spend online uses up power.
In addition to not sending or opening spam, encourage employees to limit their time online, and train them to work more efficiently.
5. Create a four-day workweek
If you want to make a more significant commitment to living green, create a shorter workweek for you and your employees. If you teach employees to work more efficiently, you’ll find that the same amount of work gets done in less time. If no one is in the building for a full day, you can lower heating and cooling costs and turn off all the lights to reduce your brand’s carbon footprint.
6. Reduce paper use
Reduce paper use in your company. Replace any disposable cups or plates in your break areas with personalized coffee mugs and washable plates and forks. The average worker uses about 10,000 sheets of paper each year, but about 45 percent of it ends up in the trash the same day it’s printed. Go digital wherever possible, and train workers to consider if they need to print a document or can view it on their screens.
7. Drive less
Most working Americans spend 17,600 minutes driving every year. What if you could encourage employees to reduce all those carbon emissions? Some employers offer an incentive to employees who take public transportation, such as paying part of the cost of a transit pass.
Another idea is offering carpool-matching and giving employees an incentive for carpooling, such as a start time that’s 30 minutes later or letting them leave a little early at the end of a workday. If you used the four-day workweek idea above, that’s also another day employees aren’t commuting to the office. Consider adding additional days by allowing people to work at least part of the time remotely.
Advantages to a green office
Reducing your company’s carbon footprint comes with many advantages. You’ll preserve precious resources for future generations and also attract customers who care as much about the environment as you do. Small changes create a significant eco-friendly impact — try some out and see for yourself!
This is a guest post by Lexie Lu. Lexie is a web designer and UX strategist. She writes for Marketo, Creative Bloq, Manta, Website Magazine and Cats Who Code. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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