Being Good to the Environment is Good for Business

How is Going Green a Benefit to My Business and The Business Community?

•    Increased energy efficiency and conservation saves money and encourages/supports shareholder investment
•    Efforts to reduce your company’s footprint earns consumer trust
•    Reducing global warming pollution, preserves forests and biodiversity and helps to keep our air and water clean.

Simple and Affordable Ways to Lower Your Impact on the Environment


•    The average office tosses out about 350 pounds of paper per employee, per year.  Use old trashcans, divider trays or cut up boxes as bins for discarded paper.  Place one at each employee’s desk and encourage him or her to recycle all of his or her paper. Place a regular large recycle bin in a central place in the office where people can dump their recycled paper.  Place a large recycle bin for cans, glass and plastic in your office kitchen. If you don’t have one, make one out of a large box.  Talk to your building’s management office and/or city hall about pick up.  Most metro Atlanta municipalities use waste management systems (WMS) for pick up of all recycled materials.  Send large ink cartridges back to manufacturer to be recycled.  Collect old batteries in a container and recycle them.

Energy Conservation

•    Make sure all lights, equipment and computers are turned off at the end of the day, install timers and/or sensors, replace old lighting with compact fluorescent lights. Set computers to sleep and loose the screen savers. Flying toasters and slideshows can use up approximately $50 of electricity in a year per computer.  Look for power management or energy saving features on the control panel for Windows or system preferences under the Apple menu for Macs. 
•    Contact your local utility company to arrange for a free or inexpensive energy audit.
•    Follow regular maintenance schedules on office/manufacturing equipment
•    E-mail reports and documents instead of printing them; set your copier to print double-sided.

Water Conservation

•    Check all faucets and toilets for leaks, install aerators on faucets and toilet tank banks in toilets.  Install dual flush toilets. Don’t leave faucets running, if you are waiting for the water to heat up, fill up a container or pitcher with the cold water until it gets warm. Use the cold water for indoor plants and humidifiers. Set timers on outdoor landscaping so that outdoor watering occurs at night and only in 15- 20-minute intervals.


•    Encourage carpooling by mapping out where your employees live; schedule a meeting just to discuss carpooling options, bike riding and telecommuting.  Offer incentives and be a little flexible to make it happen. 

Involve your staff

•    Employee participation is essential to a successful environmental initiative.  Bring together a team of employees to promote environmentalism in the workplace.  These people can educate co-workers on environmental issues and keep track of the recycling, energy conservation, water conservation and transportation activities of your company. Consider creating incentives and recognition for employees who drive your company’s environmental efforts.

Create a Healthy, Sustainable Work Environment by Replacing Antiquated Systems

Heating & Cooling

•    Maintain your heating and cooling systems and make sure they are checked annually.  Replace your air filters regularly with charcoal based air filters.
Set the temperature on your water heater to no more than 120 degrees.   Replace old water heaters with a gas or tankless water heater. Install programmable thermostats. Replace or add insulation that is made from blue jeans or cellulose. Contact your local power providers and see if they offer renewable energy credits from renewable-energy sources such as solar, wind power and geo mass.

Office Furniture & Equipment

•    Refurbish old office furniture, purchase used office/hotel furniture or purchase office furniture made from natural or recycled materials.  Rent or lease copiers, computers and other equipment from manufactures that will take back and properly recycle their goods. Replace worn carpeting with carpet tiles made from recycled carpet materials.

Office Supplies

•    Use copy paper made from recycled paper/material; stock bathrooms with recycled tissue products. Tissue manufacturers destroy forests when they turn virgin wood into throwaway paper products.  Buy chemical free/toxin free cleaners.  Refill small ink cartridges.


•    Incorporate xeriscaping practices; condition the soil.  Determine which areas get the most direct sun and cover that ground with mulch and drought tolerant shrubs & plants. Dedicate more of your landscape to drought-resistant ground cover and less to grass or plants that require moderate to heavy watering.  Water grass and ground cover with stored rainwater.

Support the Local Green Business Community and Grow Your Business


•    Calculate your facility’s carbon emissions and work to offset them through tree planting or contributing to forest protection organizations.  Investigate state and local initiatives that provide tax credits, financial incentives for environmental efforts.

Social Investing

•    Ask your brokerage firm about the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and invest in those companies.

Environmentally friendly actions don’t have to be large to have an impact.  Consistently reducing the amount of energy, water and paper businesses use can make a huge difference, both to the environment and to our pocketbooks.

This article appears in the upcoming Guide to Best Practices in Green PR and Corporate Social Responsibility, Volume 3. It was written by Sandra Cummins, director of To order or find out more information about the guidebook, go to