10 Steps to Green Your Small Business


(ref: San Francisco Chronicle article by Ilana DeBare, 6/8/2008 )

Wondering how to make your business more environmentally friendly? Here are some beginning steps that can be taken by many small businesses:

1. Consider your biggest impacts. Does your business devour paper? Guzzle gas? Use toxic products? Focus on areas where you will have the most effect.

2. Change the lights. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, or older T-12 fluorescents with energy-efficient T-5 or T-8 fixtures.

3. Recycle. In addition to providing bins to recycle business materials, allow employees to bring in batteries and compact fluorescents from home for recycling.

4. Minimize driving. Provide incentives for employees to carpool, bike, take transit or telecommute. Letting people work from home even one day a week can help.

5. Buy paper with recycled content – at least 30 percent and ideally 100 percent post-consumer content. Bay Area office supply stores like www.waldecks.com or www.thegreenoffice.com specialize in green products, but even big chains like Office Depot now carry high-quality recycled paper. For more information on environmentally friendly paper choices, see www.conservatree.org.

6. Look for the federal government’s Energy Star label when buying office equipment. For computers and monitors, there’s also a new program called EPEAT that gives bronze, silver and gold rankings to equipment that meets a variety of environmental criteria. See www.epeat.net for a list of approved models.

7. Turn off lights and computers at night. Make sure the power management settings are activated on your computers, allowing them to enter “sleep” mode when not in use.

8. Switch to less-toxic cleaning products. The federal government has information on green commercial cleaning products at www.ofee.gov/gp/greenjanitorial.html.

9. Cut waste. Buy supplies in bulk rather than small packages; minimize printing and mailing; eliminate nonrecyclable packaging.

10. Patronize other environmentally conscious businesses. You can find a list of Bay Area certified green businesses at www.greenbiz.ca.gov. [Ed: Also check out the National Green Pages, a project of Coop America, www.coopamerica.org ]

Want more info? You can find information on becoming a certified green business at www.greenbiz.ca.gov. Some local utilities and government agencies also offer rebates for becoming more energy efficient.

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