Here are some suggestions on how to make your business environmentally friendly:
- Before purchasing office supplies, check if you have supplies at home that you can use. Since I started my own business, I bought very few office supplies since I have enough stationaries to last me a long time.
- Buy paper products that are made from recycled materials and avoid envelopes with windows.
- Avoid buying stickers and labels whenever possible. Consider printing addresses directly unto the envelope.
- Avoid printing on paper whenever possible. For example, I generate invoices and email the invoices to my client instead of printing and mailing them to my clients. This saves me paper, stamp, a trip to the mailbox and my clients get the invoices the same day instead of 2 days later.
- Set up a system to go paperless. You can either pay a service provider and save everything in the cloud or invest in external hard disk to back up your files. If your company has a few employees, you may want to consider setting up a server as an alternative to the cloud.
- If you do print, print double sided whenever possible or save paper that has an empty side and print on the empty side. Make double sided printing the default setting.
- Every time I receive paperwork from my clients, I will scan it and return the hardcopies to them. This allows me to use my filing cabinet for more important things.
- Sign up for paperless billing whenever possible.
- Pay your vendors using bill pay. It’s usually free, you will save on stamps and everything will be recorded properly in your bank statements.
- Consider making payments and filings online instead of using paper.
- Consider electronic signatures whenever possible.
- When you purchase anything, choose electronic receipts instead of paper receipts.
- Stop giving out free pens and useless plastic gadgets. Consider giving out eco-friendly and reusable items and educate your customers about it.
- Consider advertising using materials that are eco-friendly. For example, avoid printing cards and advertisements on glossy paper since it is difficult to recycle.
- Support eco-friendly and sustainable companies that share the same values.
- I considered having a simple reminder at the bottom of my email to remind people to print consciously but it’s actually wasteful because it adds data and email signatures replicate itself constantly when the recipient forwards or responds to the email and it takes up unnecessary space in the cloud or your hard disk.
- When you start your business, you will get a lot of junk mail in your mailbox. Consider unsubscribing from junk mail. When you sign up for business license, bank account or any services, tell the account manager that you do not want your address forwarded to advertisers.
- Dispose electronic waste responsibly. Currently, Best Buy accept electronics for recycling including wires and chargers.
- I’m not sure about using toner refills from third party manufacturers but I buy high yield toner cartridges instead of the regular toner cartridges. I also avoid printing in color whenever possible and if I have to print in color, I will go to a third party provider. When the toner is done, I return the empty cartridges to Staples for recycling.
- Consider deleting files that are no longer relevant or required. Even though data appears to be invisible, it still takes up space in your server / cloud so make it a point to declutter your data at least once a year.
- Instead of jotting everything down on paper, consider using an app whenever possible. For example, use TripLog or MileIQ to keep track of your mileage, Quickbooks to keep track of your expenses, Google Keep to keep track of your notes instead of jotting everything down on random pieces of paper. Ideally, get apps that are able to sync with each other to minimize the need to transfer information across different platforms.
- Buy secondhand whenever possible. I am convinced that it is possible furnish the office with secondhand furnitures and still make it look nice.
- To also consider doing without if possible. For example, there is no reason to invest in so many bookshelves or a filing cabinet system if everything is saved on a server/ cloud.
- When doing research, I use online resources or borrow them from my local library. I try to avoid purchasing research materials whenever possible because these materials are expensive and get updated regularly.
- If you work from home, it’s good idea to place your desk near the window so you can take advantage of natural light.
- Also consider a second hand desk lamp if you need lighting for the desk to avoid lighting up the entire room just because you are working at your desk.
- Since I work from home, a lot of my business is conducted by phone or email. Occasionally I have to meet my clients face to face and when I do it, I try to organize all my meetings on the same day to minimize travel whenever possible.