If you run your own small business, you already know that there’s no room for waste. But how do you cut back on inefficiency? Think about it – you consume and dispose of materials in your workplace the same way you do at home, so think of all the methods you use to maximize your efforts at home, and apply them at the office for ways to reduce waste. Sounds simple, but you may not be able to put your finger on exactly how. Here are some straightforward ideas on reducing waste AND saving money for your small business.
Do a Waste Audit
You might think of an audit as a financial thing, but a waste audit can be a goldmine for small businesses looking to make big improvements in efficiency. Government agencies from your local area, your waste hauler or even the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WasteWise program conduct waste audits. It can provide you with valuable insight and analysis on your waste stream by identifying where you’re producing the most waste and what to do about it.
Recycle to Save Money
If you notice that recycling bins tend to overflow or are *gasp* mostly empty, then it’s time to boost your business’ recycling program. The easiest and most convenient way to do this is by getting informed on your area’s recycling requirements and methods for proper disposal. Talk to your local waste management branch to see if it offers any specialized handling of a company’s waste. By doing so, this will make recycling more efficient and even profitable for both of you. The less you have to pay someone to haul your waste away, the more money you will be able to save.
Properly Dispose of Electronics
To safely recycle or dispose of outdated, broken, or unused electronics (iPod Shuffles and flip phones, anyone?) you can do a few different things. Many programs accept old electronics and devices for charitable purposes, so take a look and see if your old stuff can get a new life with someone else first! It’s also a bonus if an organization will compensate you for it. If that’s not an option, check for the closest e-Stewards recycling location. Since 80% of electronic waste ends up overseas and can be toxic when handled incorrectly, e-Stewards commits to the safe disposal of electronics.
Compost Your Food
This is a tricky one. Composting is hugely advantageous for businesses and the environment, but because of the gross-factor, many people are resistant to it. However, if you purchase a useful compost container (which are often relatively cheap and easy to find) you can contact your local waste management and find pick-ups or drop-offs. Composting prevents a large amount of food waste from going straight to landfills, which means less carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Composting will also save you money by reducing the load your waste hauler needs to carry, so it’s worth your time and energy.
Use Less Paper
We know, we know. This seems impossible. Offices are synonymous with paper, and reams of it. Given the current status of our digital world, it’s surprising how many businesses still rely on paper for official documents and formal correspondence. However, there are some simple and efficient ways to use less paper, and it’s just as affordable, like:
- Set your printer to print on both sides of the paper and recycle it.
- When you need to purchase more paper, look for mostly post-consumer recycled content that is chlorine and bleach free.
- Identify processes in your workflow that can be made paperless, yet still ‘get the job done.’
Reduce Water Use
When you are looking to cut back on water use, there may be more of an initial investment to make than you thought. However, installing pricier items like a leak detection system, ultra-low-flow toilets, high-efficiency aerators for faucets, and flow restrictors for showerheads can save you almost double the amount spent.
So, consider this a long-term and highly productive investment to help your business reduce waste and costs. Congratulations, you’re already on your way to a greener future!
Bryn Huntpalmer lives in Austin, Texas where she currently works as editor-in-chief of Modernize.com with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.