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A guide to going green for start-up businesses

In recent years, “going green” has become a very familiar phrase, usually mentioned along with topics such as climate change, the environment and renewable energy. But what exactly does “going green” mean? In short, to go green is to commit to leading a life that is environmentally sustainable. As our awareness of the impact we have on the world around us has grown, many individuals have committed to becoming greener. There is now an expectation that procedures are implemented on a greater scale, with large corporations taking measures to offset the impact that their business has on the environment.

For those considering setting up a new business, environmental concerns may not seem to be a priority, but making your start-up green could facilitate its long-term success. Aside from the intrinsic benefits of creating a more environmentally-sustainable business, you will save money, enhance your public image and give your business an edge that your competitors might not have. Going green doesn’t have to mean becoming a radical environmentalist; there is a whole spectrum of ‘greenness’ so you can commit to do as much or as little as you like. Bearing that in mind, we’ve compiled this guide to give you an idea of the small, quick fixes you can try, as well as longer-term strategies to inspire your green start-up business.

Why go green with your start-up enterprise?

Save Money

Introducing environmentally-friendly practices to your start up business will undoubtedly save you money. Whilst there is a misconception that being environmentally-friendly is a costly indulgence, the majority of energy saving techniques will reduce your spending in the long run. There are also many free or inexpensive things that you can do to start saving money straight away.

Competitive Edge

Many consumers and businesses see a company’s environmental standpoint as being an intrinsic part of its overall service, and if you can’t provide that additional selling point, then there will probably be a competitor who can.

Through incorporating ‘green’ practices into your business, you will immediately tap into the growing market of environmentally-conscious customers.

Consider your start-up’s environmental stance as an investment in the future of your business, as it is easier and more credible to establish a set of values early on, than to adopt them at a later stage.

Quick green solutions

It can be difficult to know where to start once you’ve made the decision to make your business more environmentally-friendly. Luckily, there are many easy processes you can begin with that will cost almost nothing to initiate, and produce results straight away. Here are some of our top tips for reducing costs and wastage in your business, whilst helping the environment too.

Lighting

Most energy in the office environment is wasted through the unnecessary use of lighting. General office hours are the day’s lightest period, so keep lights off whenever possible.Another way to save on lighting is to swap conventional light bulbs for energy saving ones. Whilst the initial cost is higher than that of conventional light bulbs, energy-saving light bulbs are proven to reduce energy consumption by up to 75 per cent over the lifetime of the bulb, so in the long-term they will help you to save money.

Heating

Another huge drain on energy in the workplace is heating. When you’re starting a new business it is likely that you will be working from home, but it is still possible to cut down on energy usage in this area. Rather than heating your workspace throughout the day, layer up on clothing to keep warm, or invest in heaters that have timer features which allow you to heat the space in bursts, or at constant low heat.

Make your office paperless

Not only is paper expensive, but it also requires huge amounts of energy and chemicals to produce, and of course causes deforestation. Paper is a very easy thing to cut down on in the office as the majority of communications can be carried out via email. When it is absolutely necessary to use paper, buy recycled paper.

There are some very good tools out there that allows you to back up your data virtually, such as MozyPro, which is designed with small businesses in mind. If your business would constantly require collaborative work alterations on artwork or written documents, then cloud-based solutions such as Dropbox and Cubby.com are crowd favourites for small businesses.  They are of great value and have secure easy-to-use settings.

Long term solutions

Whilst the following options have higher initial costs, they will help to save you more money in the long run. For those just starting out, these options may not be feasible but if you can afford to initiate such practices early on they may serve as long-term investments in the future of your business.

Install insulation

If you are planning on working from home then this may be something you already have installed, but if not then you should consider insulating your work space to reduce energy consumption. A correctly-insulated ceiling can reduce energy consumption by up to 26 per cent through blocking rising heat from escaping through the roof.

Install sensors

Implementing green practices that depend on the memory and enthusiasm of employees can be extremely difficult and may often seem like fighting a losing battle. One way to eliminate this issue is to make energy reduction an automatic process. Many technologies are now available that regulate the operation of energy-consuming products such as lighting, heating and air conditioning. They sense movement to ensure that energy is only being used when a space is occupied. Whilst such systems can be expensive, they can dramatically reduce your energy usage and save you money in the long-term.

Source responsibly

Through initiating all of the above environmental practises, you’ll be making a great difference to the world around you and the sustainability of your business. However, if the people you buy your goods from aren’t doing the same things then you are inadvertently undoing your own good work. If you truly want to ensure the greenness of your company you need to make sure that the products you purchase such as office supplies and food are coming from sustainable sources. There are plenty of resources online that can help you to find environmentally sustainable suppliers, but a good place to start is with The Rainforest Alliance who provide lots of advice on finding the right suppliers, which can be found here.

Waste / Recycling / Procurement

Although this segment is probably one of the most publicized suite of practices for any business big or small, encouraging the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”  practices within the workplace will go a long way in flying the green banner.  Use non-disposable kitchen supplies, such as tea and coffee mugs and glasses instead of plastic ones and encourage the recycling of anything that can be collected in the weekly recycle run.

Finally: Ordering supplies in bulk can reduce packaging waste and can also be cheaper. Win-win!

If you want more information on how you can help your business go green, visit our help centre and blog for more tips and tricks.