On a moral level, of course companies should help the environment. Global warming is real and man-made, and there are clear negative consequences of rising temperatures in the long term. Pollution is bad. Everyone knows this. But here’s where it gets interesting: helping the environment is actually good for business.
Creating an environmentally-sustainable business is actually key to long-term success. If you invest in renewable and more efficient options, you reduce operational costs down the road. Not only will sustainability reduce overhead, but both employees and consumers appreciate sustainability efforts as well. 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for products or services from eco-friendly businesses, and 24% of employees are willing to take a pay cut of up to 10% if it helps the environment, meaning companies have a vested financial interest in going eco-friendly in addition to a moral obligation.
With so many clear advantages, creating sustainability within your business is a valid growth and marketing strategy. Here are 4 ways companies can help the environment:
- Let employees work from home
Telecommuting has been on the rise in the new millennium. Not only are companies embracing remote work, but some innovative businesses, like the freelance platform Toptal, are entirely remote and don’t have an office anywhere in the world. Believe it or not, the remote model works. As it turns out, employees are more productive and happier when working remotely. Plus, telecommuting greatly benefits the environment. It reduces the need for office space, let alone office supplies, and remote workers also don’t have to deal with commuting to work. According to an infographic from Cisco WebEx, if people with remote-compatible jobs worked remotely only 50% of the time, we could cut 54 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, effectively removing 10 million cars from the road for an entire year.
- Install solar panels
It’s not always easy to cut back on energy consumption, but an easy way to help the environment is to make sure that the energy you do use is clean. Installing solar panels at the office is a simple and effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Any roof can utilize solar power, but not every building has access to other forms of clean energy, such as geothermal or wind turbine technology. In the past five years, the soft costs of solar panel installation have been reduced by 70%, meaning it’s cheaper than ever for companies to use solar power to their advantage. Plus, Google’s Project Sunroof can help businesses identify how much they can save by analyzing how much sun a specific roof will get, simplifying the decision process for businesses that are on the fence.
- Go digital, and recycle digitally
The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper every year. That’s a huge amount of waste, as inevitably not all of that paper will get recycled. Why not just cut paper out of the equation altogether? Online collaborative tools like Google Drive and Dropbox have made it easier than ever to share documents and create a digital workspace where coworkers can edit the same document simultaneously. That doesn’t excuse the need for recycling, however. 50 million tons of e-waste, or retired and broken electronics, are created every year, and only 15% of that ever gets recycled. Entering a buy-back or trade-in program for used or broken appliances and hardware is an easy way to alleviate the amount of waste a company produces.
- Upgrade the office
While utilizing solar power can ensure that an office runs on clean energy, that’s no reason not to reduce the amount of energy used altogether. Upgrading the office to maximize efficiency is an ongoing task that’s never fully finished. Using energy efficient light bulbs can greatly reduce energy consumption, and for bigger projects, consider taking a page from Salesforce’s playbook and make sure that the office is LEED certified. Whether it’s buying new appliances like printers or refrigerators that run better than the ones that have been in the office for five years or installing hand-dryers to reduce the need for paper towels in the bathroom, there are always things businesses can do to reduce their energy consumption. These boosts in efficiency will save you in maintenance and energy bills, so while the upfront cost can seem formidable, keeping the office stocked with the best and newest is actually a savvy business decision.
How is your company helping the environment? Leave a comment below!