When it comes to being an environmentally and socially responsible entrepreneur, you might feel like the power for real change is outside your limited reach. Yes, maybe you can’t institute the kind of changes a Fortune 500 company would be able to, but little alterations in your behavior can still have a huge compounding effect toward the greater good of your community (and thus the world at large).
Don’t feel overwhelmed by the big picture if it keeps you from taking small steps locally. Here are three simple steps to contribute to the greater good that are effective and affordable:
1. Lean into green. You don’t have to give up on doing something just because you can’t do everything. Better to lean into being green and take small steps toward change.
There are tons of inexpensive steps you can take around the office that can make a big difference. Try switching out the standard light bulbs for energy-efficient bulbs, swap out disposable products in the kitchen or common areas for real dishes that can be washed and reused, eliminate paper towels in the kitchen and bathroom and replace them with cloth towels that can be laundered and maybe even offer ride share or other incentives for your commuting staff.
There are also ways to reuse paper by printing on both sides for internal memos and recycling all the paper that isn’t confidential. Additionally, look into your local or state government environmental incentives and programs such as those offered at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE).
It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach -- try mapping out a plan for decreasing your environmental impact and stick to your initiatives with your team.
2. Recycle your “rubbish.” More than just recycling your paper materials, think about the common office equipment and technology that gets thrown away each year. That printer you’re no longer using and those cell phones your staff members are tossing for the latest version can all be recycled. Don’t just throw away or scrap your outdated equipment, look for opportunities to recycle or donate them to companies looking for supplies.
Check out groups such as the National Cristina Foundation, which uses donated equipment to help train and teach people with disabilities to work with technology and lead more independent lives. TechSoup.org takes donated equipment or software and matches them to other nonprofits, local libraries and groups in need.
If either of those groups can’t take what you’ve got, check with the EPA’s website to learn where to go to properly recycle electronics that can be repurposed or disposed of in an environmentally-correct manner. Don’t be wasteful.
3. Staff a cause. Most employees and individuals no longer consider it enough to “just” have a job. They want to work somewhere that embodies the values and ethics they feel are important and represent them. So why not get the staff involved in choosing a local charity to donate to or community event to volunteer at?
It’s not only great for building up team morale, it makes a positive impact in the communities where you live and work. Do your part by making these events easy to attend, working with your staff to hold them accountable for showing up and getting the whole team involved in making a difference.