Going Green Makes Cents (and Dollars too)

Even if you do not buy into all of Al Gore’s inconvenient truths, it just seems logical that our great planet has some limitations, and that we need to be good stewards of the gifts it offers. Not only does it make sense, it usually saves cents, and even dollars in the long run, to intentionally include environmental issues in your decision making criteria.

Here are a few suggestions to get started on the path to being greener next year than you are right now. It is a process involving continuous improvement, not a destination to reach and then be done. Most companies that purchase any volume of materials or products will produce waste. Waste can be minimized by putting just a little thought and effort into the process. Here are four quick ways you can make your business greener.

Work with suppliers to reduce packaging, utilize reusable containers, or recycle packaging. A lumber company was paying a waste hauler to dispose of its sawdust. We suggested he contact a livestock bedding manufacturer that uses sawdust in their process. The lumber company now sells its unwanted sawdust which resulted in a $7,000 savings and a $1,200 profit center. The total was $8,200 savings applied to his bottom line annually through solid waste reduction.

Generate less paper and packaging. Paper, newsprint, and junk mail can all be reused to some degree. Use a fax system that goes directly to a computer instead of a printer. Print double sided. Design mailing pieces that do not require an envelope. A professional services company provided everyone a personal ink-jet printer for each employee. They were in the habit of printing e-mails and other documents to read and then discard. The cost exceeded $19,000 per year in cartridges, paper, waste removal and utilities before replacing the personal printers with one high capacity, high performing, multi-function laser printer in the center of the office. A recycle tray was provided next to the copier for re-use in the default feeder tray. The estimated savings is in excess of $11,500 per year.

Reduce Utility Usage. Small changes in heating and power usage can also yield big savings. There are no capital budget items here, but the savings can start to add up quickly by performing these tasks:

-¢ Ask your electrical utility to perform an energy and rate audit. Being assigned a tariff that does not apply to your current operations can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars per month.
-¢ Perform scheduled maintenance on all HVAC and other major systems.
-¢ Buy energy efficient equipment.
-¢ Turn off power to unused equipment.
-¢ Use motion detectors in restrooms and low occupancy areas.
-¢ Replace fluorescent bulbs with low mercury lighting and use reflectors.

Doing the right thing sometimes takes a little thought and effort. Not all of these tips work for every company; and not all of them can be worked on immediately. Some take time before the savings can be seen. However, with just a little planning, you can improve your bottom line by reducing waste and energy costs. Get started down the green path. Being a good steward of our shared environment is well worth the effort!

Here are some more green ideas:

Save Water
1. Monitor water meter for unexplained changes in usage.
2. Replace toilets with low flow units.
3. Install aerators on faucets and shower heads.
4. Water lawns only when needed.

Reduce Chemical Use
1. Buy only the quantity you need for a reasonable time period.
2. Use rechargeable batteries, appliances, and tools.
3. Replace toxic markers with water based pens and markers.
4. Use soy or other low-VOC inks.

Fred Pieplow is an environmental business analyst for the Institute for Green Business Certification and a principal in Tfactor -“ Time, Tools, Talent, LLC, helping businesses build sustainable improvements throughout their organization and supply chain. He can be reached at [email protected].