Eco-friendly tips for small businesses

With large businesses and consumers becoming interested in all things environmental, many small business owners have found that small changes like recycling paper and using less electricity can bring benefits to their bottom line. Adopting eco-friendly practices that benefit the environment can also make a company more attractive to potential clients in many industries, including construction.

The first thing that companies should do is look for ways to save power in the office, according to a report on KLFY TVNews in Acadiana, LA. Businesses should:

  • Buy energy-efficient equipment, whether a microwave or a copier. Use LCD monitors, which use half the power of traditional models.

  • Use power strips correctly. Make sure that all electronics are plugged into power strips such as the SmartStrip and turn off all power strips at the end of the day.

  • Use compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.

  • Businesses should also be tree-friendly, a concept that might have provoked laughter some years ago. Go paperless where possible and make sure that recycle bins are available at every desk.

    Employees of the Rawlings Sporting Goods Company in St. Louis, Missouri, which manufactures leather gloves, leather balls and wooden bats for major league baseball, a business that isn't always environmentally friendly, have become conscious of the little things, KTVI – myfoxstl.com reports. Stainless steel mugs have replaced styrofoam cups and paper recycling is established in the company.

    But Rawlings employees didn't stop there. They began brainstorming, asking, "How are we doing things now and how can we do things differently," said employee Andy Pawlowski. "We kind of approach it with an attitude of there are no bad ideas."

    Employees are now trying to find ways to recycle bats and gloves, and looking to switch their packaging to potato skins, a more biodegradable option for wrapping their products for shipping.

    John Puscheck CEO of Prager Moving and Storage Co. in Naperville (IL) found that once he took the initial steps to going green, one thing led to another, but at first he was only interested in cutting costs.

    "From our standpoint, we use a lot of fuel," he said, according to the Business Ledger of suburban Chicago. "One thing we could do was lessen our fuel use and help save money right away. He purchased generators that could help heat a truck at night without having to run it in idle. He has installed some of these and found that the fuel savings quickly made up for the cost.

    Puscheck has also decided to participate in a renewable energy program sponsored by the City of Naperville by pledging to use 12,000 kilowatts of power each month from wind farms in Southern Illinois. The City charges $20 per month for 800 kilowatts of power to be used to support the construction of renewable resources, Naperville's Web site says.

    Consumer interest has driven the decision of some small business owners to adopt an environmental consciousness. Julie Phillips, co-owner of Sir Speedy Printing in Naperville said that she switched to a digital press that does not use harmful chemicals when she learned that some clients would choose a competitor using a digital printer if their quotes were close. "This press puts us in a new niche," she says according to the Business Ledger. Phillips expects she will make up for the cost of the new printer by attracting new clients and spending less for waste removal.

    "Most of our environmental initiatives have stemmed from client demand," says Todd Andrlik, director of marketing and public relations for Leopardo Construction in Hoffman Estates, a company that has completed seven green buildings. "The green movement in construction is very high on consumers' wish lists," he says.

    The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) predicts that the green building market will grow from $7.4 billion and 2 percent of housing starts to $38 billion and 10 percent of housing starts by 2010, according to the Business Ledger.

    NAHB is working with the International Code Council on a National Green Building Standard that should be completed in 2008. The NAHB has also launched a National Green Building Programs that provides tools and resources to local builders and certifiers.

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