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10 ways to make your business greener

6-minute read

Doing your bit for the environment can simply mean making a few small adjustments to everyday activities you rarely give thought to. The good news is that going greener may save your business money – and being a good corporate citizen could help differentiate you from your competitors.

Key take-outs
  • Going green may benefit both your business and the environment
  • There are many simple actions you can take 
  • This is something your whole business can get behind

1. Cut consumption

Cutting consumption could mean saving money while you’re getting greener. It’s a win-win.

 

Try searching online for companies that provide free energy audits for business. They may be able to identify ways you can reduce your power consumption that aren’t immediately obvious. For instance, you could be missing a cost-saving trick when it comes to heating or cooling your premises and heating water.

 

One trick you definitely should consider is to heat up and cool down a couple of degrees less, which your staff will barely notice. A small adjustment to your thermostats could make a big difference to your energy bills.

2. Recycle, repurpose and reuse

Recycle all the waste from your business that you can, setting up separate recycling bins for your staff to use. And now that more states have adopted cash back on cans and bottles, have a separate collection station for these and put the proceeds back in your business, or donate them to a local charity chosen by your staff.

 

Remind your staff members to separate materials thoughtfully. Here are some things to consider:

 

  • If you’re not sure if an item can be recycled, look for the triangular recycling symbol
  • Separate mixed materials, such as foam plastic attached to cardboard packaging
  • Break up boxes to reduce the volume for transportation
  • Clean your recyclables, remembering they don’t have to be spotless
  • Put the tops of clear plastic bottles into general waste, unless they feature the recycle symbol
  • Don’t put recyclables into plastic bags, as this complicates separation
  • Remember that plastic bags, food, broken glass and crockery cannot be recycled
  • Search online for local ways to dispose of e-waste such as batteries, phones and old computers.

 

Before you throw anything away, think first if there’s another use for it. Some trendy offices use nothing but recycled timber and corrugated iron for their desks, while others have large ‘reception art’ created from reclaimed rubbish. Maybe a member of staff could create one for your business?

3. Avoid plastics

We all now know about vast plastic islands floating around the Pacific and plastic in landfill that can take hundreds of years to break down. Look around your business for plastics that could be replaced with natural materials or done away with altogether.

 

From the lids of disposable coffee cups to packing materials and storage devices, there will almost always be a greener alternative and possibly one that could cost your business less.

 

Could shredded paper replace your foam plastic packing? Would reusable glass containers work better and be more hygienic than your plastic ones? Are you choosing cotton and wool over nylon?

4. Choose biodegradable products

Set the right example to staff by using biodegradable cleaning products in your bathrooms and kitchens, reducing exposure to harsh chemicals and even toxins.

 

And carry out an audit of all the chemical agents you use in your business to help identify greener alternatives. Some everyday substances such as paints, oils and solvents can have a devastating impact on water supplies and aquatic environments if disposed of down the drain.

5. Update old appliances and lighting

From fridges, heaters, aircon and office equipment to vehicles and major equipment, you could be paying a premium to operate and run outdated technology. Look out for the yellow star ratings on many products to compare energy consumption and efficiency before you buy.

 

Think about your lighting too, and whether you’re still using inefficient halogen lamps rather than LED or low energy light bulbs.

6. Aim for paperless

There are now many fully or partly recycled paper alternatives you can use, so shop around for environmentally friendly printer paper, hand towels and loo paper.

 

When it comes to business paperwork, the greenest paper is no paper at all of course – and no paper means no costly printers, copiers and toner cartridges either. That’s a dream that is hard for most companies to achieve, but there are many ways you can keep usage down from insisting on double-sided printing to promoting a paperless office with everything stored in electronic files, including the Cloud.

 

Westpac may be able to assist with this, in terms of invoicing and reconciliation paperwork at least. If you have a Business One Low Plan or Business One High Plan account you can use our handy Biz Invoice paperless invoicing tool, which is complimentary with your account. It is available within Westpac Live Online Banking and lets you create an invoice template online, then generate, email and manage invoices from your smartphone, tablet or PC – with no printing required1.

7. Plug and plant your premises

Heating and cooling are major costs for companies, yet many of us allow money to seep out of our homes and business premises. Look around to see where gaps can be filled, holes can be plugged, and ceilings and exterior walls can be insulated. And as we said earlier, check whether your heating and air conditioning appliances have good energy ratings.

 

Also, try filling some of your premises with plants, which will produce oxygen and even soak up some airborne chemicals – which may promote a cleaner, healthier workplace.

8. Travel less

Every flight puts carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Every road journey pumps unpleasant chemicals into the environment too. So before embarking on your travel – or asking staff to – think of alternatives or efficiencies such as:

 

  • More efficient meeting agendas that reduce the number of meetings required
  • Fewer non-essential participants
  • Video conferencing
  • Public transport
  • Car pooling
  • Walking or cycling
  • Flexible working arrangements.

 

These green options may help bring your costs down while reducing your carbon footprint.

9. Go for green energy

Many energy suppliers will provide green energy plans for some or all of your electricity, with power generated by solar, wind and/or hydro.

 

You could be generating your own energy too of course, with solar panels or even wind turbines, with the possibility of selling surplus electricity back to the grid or utilising modern industrial battery technology to store it for a rainy day.

10. Reward greenness  

Getting greener is a great way for you and your staff to work together for the good of both your company and your environment. You could hold a competition to identify ways to do things better, or appoint a committee that’s responsible for greening your business.

 

You could even incentivise green behaviour by sharing any cost savings achieved with your staff as a ‘green bonus’.

 

Whilst there are still some deniers, many of us recognise that getting greener in everything we do is important for the health of our planet. Given the amount of time we all spend at work, it’s a good place to start making a valuable difference – by advocating green practices.


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Things you should know

1. To be eligible for Biz Invoice you must hold a Westpac Business One Low Plan or Business One High Plan account and be registered for Westpac Live Online Banking. Terms, conditions, fee and charges apply. Before making a decision, read the disclosure documents for your selected product or service, including the Product Disclosure Statement and T&Cs, by clicking the above links; and consider if the product is right for you.

 

The information in this article is general in nature and does not take your objectives, financial situation or needs into account. Consider its appropriateness to these factors; and we recommend you seek independent professional advice about your specific circumstances before making any decisions.