Having suffered through the historical drought that scorched Texas this past summer and being befuddled by a winter that seems more like spring, many of us are embracing terms like “climate change,” “climate weirdness” and “global warming” to describe the unprecedented shifts in our planet’s weather patterns. Although we may struggle to articulate our concerns, not always knowing the precise scientific words to describe the changes to our once-stable environment, we most certainly understand that transformations affecting us and our well-being are taking place.
Due their resources and corporate populations, businesses are in a unique position to positively impact the environment and affect constructive change in our world. Here are a few resolutions you can make this year that will have positive effects on our environment:
Encourage remote working
Telecommuting has become increasingly popular and offers benefits to both employees and the planet that are far-reaching, including:
- increased productivity
- healthier work-life balance
- increased job satisfaction
- reduction in commute time
- flexible work hours
- reduced operating costs
- reduced energy consumption
In addition, the growth of telecommuting practices over the past few years has already significantly decreased our nationwide gasoline consumption and carbon dioxide emission levels.
Are you just starting to telecommute and looking for ways to improve your habit so it becomes a better fit in your life? In the past, we’ve presented several articles in support of teleworking: the business case you can present to your boss that supports regular telecommuting; which personality types better suited for working from home; and how to maintain healthy boundaries so you don’t inadvertently work longer hours once you start telecommuting. If you’re new to the practice, consider starting telecommuting just one day a week (or even a half day) and building a more regular routine from there.
Evaluate your office supplies
Another environment-friendly consideration is managing office waste. Paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, and plastic bottles can all be recycled easily. You can minimize wear and tear on your hardware by shutting down your computer at night, and you’ll save an average of $90 of electricity a year. Also, consider that it takes it takes 26 recycled plastic water bottles to create a plastic container for a one-liter bottle of water, and that doing so pollutes 25 liters of groundwater. Stop buying bottled water for the office and encourage the use reusable water bottles among employees instead. Reusable water bottles made from stainless steel or aluminum are a better choice because these materials are not likely to degrade over time, but if you choose a plastic water bottle, check the number on the bottom first: plastics numbered 3, 6 and 7 could pose a health threat, so look for plastics numbered 1, 2, 4 or 5.
For example, just a few months ago to celebrate our 20th anniversary, PGi purchased commemorative reusable ceramic mugs for all the corporate offices around the world to encourage less environmental waste as well as a warm “thank you” to all associates.
Move toward paperless environments
We get it: a completely paperless office is a challenge, especially if you work for a larger enterprise with deeply engrained processes, a dependency on the exchange of paper copies and superfluous copying. But there are several steps that you can take today, and good ideas spread:
- The new green wisdom of “think before you print”—that reminder at the end of your email—is for all documents (yes, including white papers). If you’re pressed for time, don’t just print out documents for later reading; save them to a special folder on your hard drive and read them as time allows.
- It’s not that hard to print on both sides of the paper. Yet, even though most printer programs provide that option, most of us still print only on one side of the page. Consider this: the U.S. alone uses 4 million tons of copy paper annually, about 27 pounds per person. Save dough and your local landfill. Print on two sides.
- Evaluate longer term strategies like moving your document archives to an online management system like Sharepoint. Many online document storage systems are integrated with intranet software like Jive, so be sure to check and see which systems are compatible with the systems you already have in place so that implementation is easier.
Trim your travel budget
Video conferencing and web conferencing tools provide flexible and planet-friendly alternatives to frequent business travel, cutting costs in your travel budget as well. Whenever you travel, consider purchasing carbon offsets to mitigate the increase of your carbon footprint. Better yet, employ tools like iMeet and GlobalMeet, which can avoid further damage to the planet as well as costs to the company. Whether for sales, recruiting or bringing together remote teams across the country or even the globe, video conferencing and web conferencing solutions satisfy a need without impacting travel budgets.
As you move into this New Year and are thinking of ways to improve your business and your bottom line, thinking green can support your goals while simultaneously unifying employee morale and promoting wellness for our planet.