Good earth busıness for theand
Small steps can lighten
your company’s footprint
By Carrie Madren
ONE WAY TO honor Earth Day on April 22
can be to make small changes that benefit both
your local environment and your bottom line.
Cutting resource use and implementing more
efficient operations is smart business, because
these moves save money in the long run.
“In most cases, going green is really just
another word for reducing waste,” says Jennifer
Kaplan, a Costco member and author of the
book Greening Your Small Business (Prentice
Hall Press, 2009). Examine your balance sheet
to see what resources you’re spending money
on and where you can cut waste, she advises.
“There’s no doubt that little steps add up.” •Switch out incandescent light bulbs for
longer-lasting light-emitting diode (LED)
bulbs or compact fluorescents (CFLs) that use
less energy and save on your energy bill. LED
bulbs use at least 75 percent less energy and
last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs,
according to Energy.gov. Save even more
energy by shutting down computers, printers,
copiers, fax machines and other equipment at
night or when not in use.
Theresa Polley, a Costco member and
owner of Retreat in the Pines in Mineola,
Texas, estimates that using CFL light bulbs,
setting the thermostat higher in summer and
lower in winter, and purchasing energy-saving
appliances has saved about $10 per month.
“Over the last five years, that’s about $600
total,” she says. •Consider your paper flow: Adjust your
computer’s print default settings to double-sided printing and reuse single-sided sheets
before recycling to slash your paper use.
“Going paperless, or trying to go
paperless, is probably one thing that
almost every business could benefit from,”
Kaplan says. Do this through using electronic
signatures on contracts, emailing releases and
billing online. In addition, there’s little need for
a fax machine anymore, Kaplan suggests.
The Costco Connection
Costco and Costco.com offer LED and
CFL bulbs, energy-saving appliances and
water filters and coolers. Costco also
offers a water-delivery service (visit
Costco.com and click on "services,"
then on "water delivery").
deliveries, to greatly lighten your company’s
footprint. “Make fewer and longer trips, and
maximize delivery routes,” Kaplan says. •Consider how to conserve food resources,
which make up the bulk of landfill-bound
items. Reduce food waste at meetings where
food is catered or served by taking note of
what food gets thrown out and learning to
purchase or order less in the first place.
Finally, be upfront about what you’ve
been able to do and what you hope to do.
“Greening is not a checklist; it’s a journey,”
says Darby Hoover, senior resource specialist
at the Natural Resources Defense Council,
www.nrdc.org. “There’s always a next step you
Virginia-based freelance writer Carrie
Madren regularly covers sustainability issues.
• Switch from paper to electronic
documents or email.
• Reuse shipping and packaging
• Use LED or CFL light bulbs and
buy energy-saving appliances.
• Offer chilled tap water or use a
water service instead of buying
• Audit your company’s waste
stream to see where you can
• Educate your employees about
what you hope to achieve.