Global climate change is obviously a big, big issue. So what can we as small businesses do about it? As part of Blog Action Day 2009, BatchBlue turned to our resident experts in all things small business (our customers and our contact network, of course!) to find out what they are doing not only to bring in the green, but also to be green in their business practices.
During Tuesday’s small business Twitter chat #SBBUZZ, we discussed how there are many small steps you can take to help green up your business (and thus help do the big work of saving the planet!)
We were fortunate to be joined on #SBBUZZ last night by green expert, author and professional organizer Candita Clayton, who helped guide the discussion about what small business can do to save energy, reduce waste and fight climate change. Here are some simple, easy-to-implement tips that came out of our discussion:
Recycle: Make it easy to recycle paper, glass and plastic. Set up separate bins where they will be seen and used. If your business doesn’t have a program in place, start one! It’s worth it to be the squeaky wheel on this issue since it’s so important. And many communities have programs in place where you can drop off unwanted computers, printers etc. Keeping these hazardous items out of the landfill will go a long way in helping to halt pollution and resultant climate change.
Reuse: Before you toss something in the trash, see if it has a potential secondary purpose. Tricia Mumby from Mabel’s Labels says “We have found a very unique way of disposing of some of our paper waste: donate to day cares and schools! Some of our cardboard, paper and plastic waste is very much appreciated for craft time!” Mumby adds that one of their goals is to generate as little trash as possible, so they make sure to provide their breakrooms with adequate dishes, cups, tea-towels and containers that are re-usable.
There’s also the great site Freecycle.org, which allows your trash to become someone else’s…well, you know!
Power down: Several folks suggested unplugging computer equipment and related electronics when not in use. I chimed in with an idea I heard a while ago: plug all your electronics into a Clapper, then “Clap Off!” when you are done working for the day. So much fun, you’ll never forget to do it! (Clappers can be purchased via Amazon.com)
Promote green computing: Nancy Cobado from Brain Trust Technologies suggests trying electronic document management, online meetings and collaboration. “Print less, consume less power and travel less,” says Cobado,”It’s amazing what you can save!”
Go paperless: Another popular suggestion was to try for a paperless office. There are many small business web apps out there that will help you manage tasks like invoicing, payroll and contact management (ahem!) without killing a single tree. Check out our friends on the Small Business Web for inspiration.
From a practical standpoint, Fernando Labastida of KPIOnline.com suggests the following: “Small businesses can use Business Intelligence tools to track the purchases of line items such as copy paper, notebook paper, tissue, set disposable reduction goals for these items, and track them on a monthly basis. The pure act of measuring something spurs creative ideas for improving the metrics of something that needs improving.” He adds, “If your goal is to reduce copy paper consumption by 20%, you now have a way of actually measuring the consumption of your copy paper.”
Telecommute: At BatchBlue, we’re huge fans of working from home (or the local coffee shop, or waiting for the kids’ soccer practice, on a train etc.) Mobile technologies and laptops have freed us to work where we choose to work rather than being arbitrarily tethered to a desk. There’s even a name for this brave new way of working: Workshifting. This site is full of advice for those either currently workshifting or seeking to start. And on our site, BatchBlue president Pamela O’Hara has written a blue paper about how you can set up and manage your own virtual office.
Obviously…the difference of the impact on gas consumption and related climate change between commuting two hours and walking to your dining room table? Huge.
Small business, big change
BatchBook customer Daniel Mark Wheaton summarizes his company’s efforts nicely “At Canuka Web Solutions, we’re a pretty small company, but we try to take little steps to be as green as possible. All of our invoices are e-mailed, or printed on recycled paper. Our promotional material is also printed on recycled paper and placed in folders made from 100% recycled material. And by using technology to share ideas and teleconference, we cut our costs as well as minimizing our impact on the environment by reducing unnecessary travel.”
Leave a comment, save a fish
We know you’ve got even more great ideas, so please feel free to share them in the comments below. Or just say hello! BatchBlue will donate $2 for every commenter on this post to the Blue Ocean Institute. Because a healthy climate means healthy oceans and vice versa, and because we love the work they are doing to save the world’s oceans and coastlines. As an added bonus, one lucky winner will be randomly selected to win their very own Clapper!
Thanks for joining us in thinking about how small business can help combat climate change. Please try some (or all!) of these tips and let’s join the fight against climate change one small business at a time.
UPDATE: Well, we didn’t get as many comments as we hoped, but we’re still making a donation in the name of small business to The Blue Ocean Institute. And the lucky winner of the Clapper will be contacted within the next couple of days. Thanks everyone! –MRR