Being able to say you run an environmentally responsible organisation is an accomplishment that is relatively new for most small businesses. Going green can seem like a high standard to meet, and small business owners may feel like they’re navigating unexplored territory.

Here are three steps to help your business go green without sacrificing productivity or profits:

Step One Know what it means to be green

Why is going green something your business wants to do? List these motivations in order of your priority (or add your own):

  • Getting market advantage being able to market your company or products as green
  • Saving money on energy bills, taxes, and materials cost
  • Taking pride in being an environmentally responsible business

Next, determine where your green priorities fit in with your company’s mission. You may need to do some research into how being green-certified can attract new business and expand product opportunities.

Step Two Identify Obstacles to Change

Black and white thinking. From the outside, green practices seem non-negotiable you’re either environmentally responsible, or you’re not. It’s true that there are certain standards to be met before you can become green certified, but integrating conservation to save costs and attract customers can be a process of simple changes implemented over time.

Procrastination. When you think of kick-starting new conservation-oriented standards for your company, what reasons quickly come up to put it off to another day? Here are some common ones, and ways to defeat the perceived obstacles:

It costs too much money.Think in terms of the true costs of NOT going green.Odds are that your company is leaking money like a sieve if you haven’t already tightened it up to green standards both in energy and in lost potential business.

I don’t know where to start. Establish a baseline. Create a list of areas in your business where you know you could improve on energy efficiency and conservation. Do a SWOT analysis of your company’s green capabilities.

I don’t have the time or staff. Start small. Introduce a weekly or monthly Green Day at work where you launch a new initiative, such as shutting down machinery and power strips when you close the office. The key is to start generating momentum and then maintain it.

Automate conservation. Look for ways you can automate your business for increased efficiency, while at the same time adding more environmentally conscious tools and solutions:

Buy a printer capable of duplexing (printing to front to back).

Reuse the blank side of discarded printed pages for notes or printing drafts.

Include an evaluation of green practices when considering new vendors, suppliers, and partners.

Step Three Explain, Train, Sustain

Explain. Communicate the importance of green practices to your staff. Involve your HR, PR, and marketing teams to craft a green message for your products, your customers, and your staff.

Train. Make sure all of your staff members are using technology to its optimal productivity. Demonstrate the behavior you want them to model through your own actions.

Sustain. The underlying message in all green activities is that of stewardship a healthy respect for the resources that surround us, and a long-term commitment to maintaining and preserving those resources. This service-oriented attitude is what will further the momentum in your new endeavours towards higher standards and, over time, attract new customers who will in turn sustain your business.

ISO 14001 – Environmental Management systems

Organisation trying to improve their green credentials should consider developing and implementing systems that meet the requirements of ISO 14001 Environmental Management systems. The ISO 14001 requirements assists organisation to start and stay on the green journey


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