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4 Ways Your Business Can Improve Environmental Stewardship
December 27, 2019
Eco-Friendly Office Towards Improving Stewardship

4 Ways Your Business Can Improve Environmental Stewardship

In recent years, more small businesses than ever have been using environmental stewardship to their advantage. Regardless of your industry, it can make a positive difference in your reputation, operations, and overall bottom line.

 In addition, environmental stewardship can protect the environment and help create a sustainable future. 

When you focus on sustainability, your employees and customers are more likely to be loyal to you  for years to come. So, what is environmental stewardship and how can your business improve it? Keep reading to find out. 

What is Environmental Stewardship?

Environmental stewardship involves using a variety of conservation and sustainable practices to protect the natural world. It strives to clean up previous contamination, reduce operational impacts, and work towards a sustainable future. 

Unfortunately, most small businesses don’t promote environmental stewardship. This is simply because they’re either unaware of it or don’t know how to implement it into their operations. The good news is that creating a sustainable workplace doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.

There are many affordable stewardship practices that you can implement to encourage your employees to take steps to protect the environment. Once you teach them about environmental ethics, you’ll find that many of them are excited to jump on board. 

While it may take some time for your employees to adapt to eco-friendly practices, they surely will in time. After a few months, it’ll become second nature to them. They’ll likely adhere to your new policies without even thinking about them. 

No matter how busy you and your employees are, avoiding environmental issues is an attainable goal. When you achieve it, you’ll be glad you took the plunge and reap its benefits for years to come.

Benefits of Environmental Stewardship For Small Business

When most people think of environmental stewardship, they consider how it helps the environment. As a small business owner, however, it’s important to think about how going green can help you meet your goals.

First and foremost, a sustainable culture can allow you to save money on energy costs over time. It may also be a great way to attract quality employees and gain loyal customers. In addition, it can open the doors up to government contracts and qualify you for tax incentives. Lastly, if you’re looking for investors, environmental stewardship may be just what you need to impress them. 

How To Improve Your Small Business’ Environmental Practices

Although it takes dedication to improve environmental practices, you’ll find that your efforts will pay off in the end. Fortunately, you don’t have to completely overhaul the way you operate. What you do have to do, however, is make several small changes and encourage your employees to consider environmental impacts. Here are some tips to get you started. 

1. Increase Use Of Recycled Materials

Look around your office and ask yourself which items can be used multiple times. You may find that you can recycle things like packaging boxes and stationary items. Encourage your employees to save any recyclable materials so they can be used at a later time. Not only will this eliminate the need to buy new items, it’ll also reduce what goes to the landfill. 

To recycle materials, place recycle bins with labels in high-traffic areas and clearly label what goes in each bin. In addition, send out an email or host a meeting so that everyone is aware of what these bins are for.

2. Utilize Energy Efficient Lighting

Thanks to energy efficient lighting, you don’t have to hurt the environment to have light in your workplace. If possible, use compact fluorescent (CFL) or light emitting diodes (LED) lights. Although these light bulbs will cost more than traditional ones, they can save you a great deal of money on energy. Plus, they usually last about five times longer.  

Do your research before buying energy efficient lighting. Some companies offer bulk deals or business discounts that can help make CFL or LED lights more affordable. This is a great way to go green without much effort. 

Utilize Energy Efficient Lighting

3. Ink and Toner Disposal Remedies

In a perfect world, you’d never need to print on paper in your office. However, there will be times where printing is your only option. When this happens, it’s wise to use remanufactured ink and toner cartridges.

Essentially, these cartridges are recycled. A manufacturer takes a used cartridge, replaces its ink and toner, and resells it to a business like yours. Compared to brand new cartridges that most businesses use, these remanufactured options are far more sustainable. By using this type of ink and toner cartridges, you can help keep empty cartridges out of landfills. 

4. Switch To Eco-Friendly Chemicals for Cleaning

Whether you clean your office or hire a cleaning company, switch to eco-friendly chemicals. Not only will this help the environment, it’ll also improve your employees’ and customers’ health. After all, many of the chemicals found in common cleaning products can negatively affect health. In fact, these chemicals can contribute to cancer, asthma, and increased birth defects. 

We suggest selecting cleaning products that have received third-party certificates such as Green Seal, Safer Choice, and Ecologo. Fortunately, many of these products can be found at your local Target, Costco, or Safeway. In addition, they are almost the same prices as traditional ones. 

The Benefits of Energy Audits for Your Small Business

The reality is that energy is a major expense for small businesses in the country. Believe it or not, it accounts for more than $60 billion of operating costs every year. By being conscious of how much energy your small business uses, you can uncover opportunities to become more efficient. That’s where an energy audit comes in. 

An energy audit is a detailed inventory of the energy performance in your small business. It’s a great way to analyze the cost and efficiency of energy usage within your organization. With an energy audit, you can:

  • Cut Energy Costs: Once you understand your business’s energy consumption, you can make smart energy decisions. By doing this, you’ll save money on your energy bills.
  • Set Goals: After you conduct an energy audit, you’ll likely be motivated to set energy-saving goals. Over time, you can measure your progress and continue learning about environmental sustainability.
  • Create an Energy Efficient Culture: An energy audit can give you the opportunity to share your findings with your employees. That way, you can create a culture that promotes energy efficiency.

You can perform an energy audit on your own. However, to ensure accuracy, contact your state or local or government or an electric utility company who can recommend a professional.

Next Level: Switching To Solar

If you’re serious about improving environmental stewardship, you may want to switch to solar energy. This is a green energy source that’s free of anything that may harm the environment. It doesn’t release any greenhouse gases or chemicals.

If you install a solar system, you won’t have to do much to maintain it. As long as you give it an annual cleaning, your solar panels should last anywhere from 25 to 40 years. 

If you go the solar route, you’ll have to put aside money, as the average commercial solar system is $2.87/Watt. This is before any incentives or rebates. But, switching to solar will significantly reduce your energy costs, which continue to rise year after year.

Another noteworthy financial benefit of using solar energy in your small business is federal tax credits. Once you install your solar system, you may receive a federal tax credit for 30 percent of its cost. 

Solar panels will also increase the value of your commercial property, which can be beneficial if you decide to sell it. In short, installing a solar system is a strategic decision that guarantees a solid financial return for your small business. 

Solar Panels to Improve Efficiency

Environmental Stewardship Matters

Even if you don’t have many employees or have only been operational for a few years, environmental stewardship is important. This is particularly true in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. By being environmentally friendly, you can stay ahead of the competition and do your part in protecting the environment.

At Fora Financial, we strive to help small business owners succeed. Sign up for our newsletter today for more information on environmental stewardship and a variety of small business tips.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the environmental stewardship definition?

Environmental stewardship uses a number of conservation and sustainable practices to protect the natural environment.

Why should I care about environmental stewardship as a small business owner?

Fostering a sustainable culture can allow you to save money, attract great employees, gain loyal customers, and impress investors.

What is an energy audit?

An energy audit is a comprehensive inventory of your small business’s energy performance. It can give you the chance to understand how your organization uses energy.

Fora Financial

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Fora Financial is a working capital provider to small business owners nationwide. In addition, the Fora Financial team provides educational information to the small business community through their blog, which covers topics such as business financing, marketing, technology, and much more. If you’d like to see a topic covered on the Fora Financial blog, or want to submit a guest post, please email us at [email protected].