When it comes to environmentalism, going green doesn’t have to be painful. Sometimes, it just takes small changes over time to reduce a company’s carbon footprint and change its polluting ways.
Nick Chandler, manager of public relations and community for Nitro PDF Software , offers small business owners nine ways they can reduce their impact on the environment.
1. Making recycling an official policy
Whether it’s the paper your office is printing, bottles the staff are drinking at meetings or old computing equipment that the IT department says needs to go, set up an official recycling policy in your workplace to lessen the impact of waste on the environment.
2. If you absolutely need to use paper, be smart
Technology isn’t perfect -- yet -- and for some businesses, going completely paperless simply isn’t realistic. It’s also unreasonable to expect an entire office to stop using paper overnight. Even still, it’s possible to make a significant impact on paper consumption by simply printing more intelligently. Remember, paper is double-sided, so print and copy on both sides. Use recycled paper in all printers by default, and make sure employees have convenient access to multiple recycling locations -– a single receptacle in the office kitchen isn’t likely to encourage good behavior.
3. Set up a commuting program
Incentivize your staff to lessen their carbon footprint by setting up a commuting program in your office. Take turns driving to work in a carpool or even track the monthly “spare the air” days to promote taking public transportation versus cars.
4. Digitize physical archives
Filing cabinets are expensive, space-intensive, and clumsy to search -- and they’re also subject to human error. Digital archives are instantly searchable, easily integrated, and can replace hundreds of filing cabinets in a device that’s smaller than a desktop computer. PDF/A is the archival standard for PDF -- a future-proof variation of the format designed and built for long-term storage and support. Beyond the obvious green benefits, it also reduces physical storage space requirements and time previously wasted by employees attempting to manually locate files.
5. Turn off appliances and equipment whenever possible
Employees aren’t in the office 24 hours a day, yet many businesses never even switch off their electronic equipment. Make sure employees shut computers down when leaving, refrain from leaving equipment on unnecessarily, and unplug unused cords (where possible) at the outlet, effectively halving the electricity consumption of these devices.
6. Make landscaping part of office team-building
Suggest giving back to the environment for your next office team-building exercise. If one tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide in its lifetime, an entire office staff who plant trees every few months could make significant impact to the earth every year.
7. Sign documents onscreen
Consider the typical workflow every time you receive a document that requires your signature. From purchase orders to HR policies , most businesses still endure the process of printing, signing, scanning, and sending. Industry estimates suggest that switching to digital signatures reduces time spent on the contract signature workflow by up to 500 percent. Digital signatures provide an efficient, secure way in which businesses can sign and process the entire contract workflow with even greater security.
8. Collaborate digitally to save time and paper
Paper-based review cycles can incredibly time-consuming -- transcribing physical feedback to the document itself, scheduling meetings to discuss and review, and attempting to track who said what, and when they said it. Digital documents facilitate more efficient collaboration, allowing every participant to review and contribute simultaneously, without ever leaving their desks. Add sticky notes, mark-up text, reply to individual comments, and track the entire process from start to finish, without using one sheet of paper.