How To Stay Green With Your Office Cleaning

Businesses are incorporating sustainability into their daily practices in an effort to do their part in creating a more eco-friendly future.  If you’re among the businesses that are adopting sustainable business practices such as conserving resources and reducing waste, you’re probably always looking for additional ways to go green.

An area that some businesses overlook is their cleaning practices. Many conventional cleaning products contain chemicals that have a negative impact on people, animals, and the environment. Chemicals in cleaning products can cause health problems such as asthma, cancer, and birth defects. After the products are used, they typically get washed down the drain. Water treatment facilities can get rid of some of the contaminants but not all. These contaminants then get washed into our rivers and lakes, where it can have a negative impact on wildlife.

This is why more businesses are incorporating green cleaning into their business practices. If you’re looking for additional ways to stay green, it’s time to look at your cleaning practices.

What is green cleaning?

Green cleaning is when you use cleaning methods and procedures that are designed to preserve human health and the environment. Typically, this means using products that contain environmentally friendly ingredients. Most green products are also manufactured in an environmentally friendly way and are biodegradable.

Most green cleaning products contain a label on their packaging that indicates the company has met certain environmental and labor standards. However, it’s important to remember that some companies can get this label just by donating to environmental causes or using recycled packaging while their products still contain harmful chemicals. You should always check to see what ingredients are in the product to ensure that it is environmentally friendly. Avoid products that use phosphates, chlorine, artificial fragrances, and artificial colors.

The right green cleaning products smell more natural and will still clean your business just as well as conventional cleaning supplies.

How do I switch to green products?

If you would like to practice green cleaning, the first thing you’ll need to do is to find out what you’re currently cleaning with. If your business does its own cleaning, go around your business and make a list of all your products. If you’re using a cleaning company, ask them to provide you with a list.

After you have your list of products, go through and see if any of them are green products. You can do this by seeing if any of them have an ecolabel or checking to see if they are EWG verified.  If any of them are, great! You’re already using green products.

If they don’t, you’ll want to see if the vendor you buy your supplies from offers a green product line. If you’re using an outside cleaning company, see if they’re willing to use green products. Most companies will already have alternative products on hand. Some companies, such as Executive Cleaning Services, LLC, will also let you provide your own green cleaning products while still doing the cleaning for you!

Aren’t green products more expensive?

No, not necessarily. Depending on where you buy your products, you can get them for around the same price as conventional products.

There are a number of ways to make green cleaning affordable. If you’re a small business, you can consider making your own cleaners out of natural ingredients. If you purchase your products from a vendor, see if you can buy in bulk or buy concentrated products. You’ll spend more money upfront, but the products will last longer.

You should also eliminate unnecessary products to help reduce costs. There are many all-purpose cleaners out there that can be used on multiple surfaces.

What other ways can I stay green with my cleaning?

Switching to green cleaning products is the best way! If you’re not using green products, then you’re not practicing green cleaning.

However, it’s also important that your entire team is on board. If your employees go out and buy conventional cleaning products to clean their own cubicle with, it defeats the purpose of your company using green products. Engage your employees in the process of switching to new supplies so that they have a say. Some might even start practicing green cleaning at home!

In conclusion

If you’re already practicing sustainable business practices, make sure to add green cleaning to your list of practices. Or, if you’re trying to find ways to start being sustainable, green cleaning is a great first step! It’ll take some time to review your current cleaning products, but once you identify new green cleaning products, you’ll be good to go.

5 Ways on How To Prepare Your Business For Natural Disasters

Natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, and floods come with a lot of collateral damage which affects homes and infrastructure. They also affect our businesses, which are sources of livelihood for many.

Imagine building your enterprise from the ground up, only for it to be dissipated in hours or seconds by the freaks of nature! So how can you prepare your business to weather the storm in the face of a sudden natural disaster? Here’s my ‘Hitchhiker’s guide’ to business disaster preparedness.

Safety Protocols

All lives matter, human resource is the backbone of any business. So having Standard Operating-Procedures(S0Ps) for disaster preparedness can mitigate any occupational risks during such times.

Simulating disaster drills can also go a long way in disaster preparedness if employees know emergency exits and evacuation protocols. Keeping a well-equipped disaster kit is commended too, and it should come complete with survival supplies for at least 3 days.

Data Backup

Yes backups are quite the norm now. But having a ‘backup’ of your backup is advisable. Having an extra digital location where your most sensitive documents, emails as well as digital records and databases are stored.

This can allow you to switch to a ‘virtual business’ till the dust settles and enable you to work and deliver remotely.It gives your business a much needed lifeline as virtual records can help in the rebuilding process a lot. Be sure that your backups are done frequently and can be automated.

Insurance Cover

Get yourself flood insurance if your geographic code is prone to weather disasters. The average flood insurance policy costs about $800 and most Insurance companies now offer business interruption policies, property as well as disaster packages at good premiums.

Statistics show that 2 in 5 businesses open after natural disaster. So, to help alleviate the hustles of reopening, insurance could come in handy.I’d advise you take time to meet your insurance agent to ponder over business insurance covers.

Infrastructure Precautions

Considering the barrage of destruction Hurricane Harvey brought on the Texas Gulf-Coast causing property damage of up to $80bn, certain measures and precautions can’t be ignored. This is especially so when it comes to the resilience and structural safety of your work premise. Be sure to do a structural audit on your location and assess any possibilities of vulnerability.

Do take time to verify that your business location meets specified building codes. Also surely endeavor to test and service the premise emergency generator under load. If weather disaster strikes, do make an effort to use protective material such as plywood to seal off windows. You can also secure first floor doorways with sandbags while relocating your most sensitive office equipment to innermost portions of the building.

Emergency Savings

An Indian friend told me once “In India we save for a rainy day, because it basically rains every day”. That could explain why many Asians are good at saving because they understand that nature can’t be negotiated with.

As a rule of thumb, it’s advisable for businesses to save 20% of their profit per month into an ‘Emergency Trust’. On top of the insurance monies or low interest loans from the Office of Disaster-Assistance, this money can reduce the burden of loss of assets on your business.

We saw the adverse effects of Hurricane Katrina on employment and the New Orleans economy, they can still be felt 13 years later. Bad news never has good timing and at times one can never be too prepared. However, if you take the above precautions chances of salvaging your business are way better.

About the Writer

Leona is part of the content and community team at Specialty Fuel Services – providers of emergency fuel continuation services, in locations affected by catastrophic events.

An Easy Guide to Make Your Business Sustainable

The adoption of sustainable practices is an opportunity for growth, but it also presents a challenge. Though you’ll eventually enjoy the economic and environmental benefits of your changes, implementing them takes commitment. You need to approach the transition with subtlety.

So what are the main points to keep in mind as you continue? What are practical strategies to reduce carbon emissions and excessive commercial waste? We’ll answer those questions and others like them, providing an easy guide for professionals who want to improve their standard of sustainability.

1. Assign a Sustainability Team Lead

One of the key factors in your success is communication. You need every employee to understand and accept your proposed changes, and that coordination is no small responsibility. If you’re going to increase sustainability in your workplace, you’ll need the assistance of a sustainability team lead.

Their role is to share your objectives with other employees and encourage them to adapt their behavior. They serve as an advocate for your new policies, putting them into action and helping others do the same. In short, your sustainability team lead will facilitate cooperation.

2. Invest in Practical Adjustments

When you’re operating a business, your bottom line is your top priority. You can’t afford to make changes if they compromise your profitability. Fortunately, you don’t need to make that kind of sacrifice, as certain practices are beneficial for both the environment and your expenses.

As an example, you can digitize documents to limit paper waste and lower the costs of printing and ink. You can also connect a group of devices to a single power strip, then turn it off when you leave the office. It’s a simple adjustment which will increase the lifespan of your devices and reduce e-waste.

3. Maintain Careful Record-Keeping

Over the past two years, many companies have engaged in the practice of sustainability reporting. Investors are starting to ask for this type of report, and if business owners are unable to provide it, they may encounter issues. Naturally, you need to give thought to record-keeping.

Are you documenting your changes? Do you have the necessary information from project and property managers? Investors need more than a promise to feel secure in your company’s improvements, and you can instill confidence when you offer reports with the relevant data.

4. Work With Similar Companies

Many companies have made it their goal to “go green,” and you should seek their support. Check for a list of green vendors in your area, and when you find one that meets your needs, reach out. You’ll come across sustainable alternatives for many products and services you currently depend on.

You may benefit from an eco-friendly cleaning service if your present service isn’t adequate. On a smaller scale, you can purchase business cards from a company that uses recycled materials. The point remains the same: You have options, and you should explore them.

5. Keep Convenience in Mind

As you modify your office, consider the convenience of your changes. An employee is far more likely to recycle paper and plastic products when they can easily access a recycling bin. If you’ve placed the bin in a location that doesn’t see much foot traffic, you’re not going to get the results you want.

Naturally, the ideal place for a recycling bin is the lunchroom or a similar area where your employees tend to congregate. The choice to recycle shouldn’t take more effort than the choice to use a conventional bin. Make both bins available to employees and trust them to make the correct decision.

6. Start Planning Today

Sustainability isn’t as simple as it first seems. A business owner may have good intentions, but unless they take time to prepare, their initiative won’t yield the desired results. With that in mind, review the steps in this guide and start planning your sustainability program today.

12 Ways Small Businesses Can Save Energy

Saving money is important for businesses and saving energy is important for all of us – so here is the perfect mix of both and some great tips for small businesses to save on energy.

  1. Get A Free Energy Audit

A full energy audit helps identify issues that might be causing energy wastage – these include insulation issues and air leaks. Most electricity utility companies offer these audits free of charge. The inspection not only helps you determine how energy is used but also ways to address energy wastage.  The audit report will also recommend ways to keep your energy usage on the low, such as investing in energy efficient lighting and equipment.

Inquire with Josco Energy Corporation about a free audit.

  1. Invest in Energy-Efficient Office Equipment

Energy efficient (energy-star rated) appliances use up less energy as compared to older non-rated ones. That said, it would be advisable for you to lease/buy energy star rated office electronics.  This should help see your energy bills drop significantly, hence substantial cost savings in the long run.

  1. Avoid Peak Demand

Peak demand can be defined as the time of the day when there’s a high demand for energy. These are the hours when energy usage is the highest. The typical peak hours start from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Reducing your demand for electricity during these times and only running the factory and heavy equipment early in the morning, and later in the evening can help reduce energy consumption. Reducing your demand for energy during peak hours also means the business spends less on energy usage at the end of the day.

  1. Use Programmable Thermostats

Smart thermostats make it easy to monitor and control temperatures in the workplace when everyone is in the office (9 – 5), and away. The thermostat can be programmed to turn OFF the heating and cooling appliances during the night, and back ON a few minutes to ‘work hours’. This in return sees you save lots of energy that would have otherwise been wasted had the HVAC systems remained on through the night.

  1. Switch Off Lights in Unused Areas

Most offices have an always-on lights setup. This means the lights in all rooms including bathrooms, conference rooms, breakrooms, and even unused corridors. This leads to energy wastage which can be preserved if lights were only turned on when needed. Installing sensors to turn the lights on or off when required could help too.

  1. Switch to Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs use up more energy for the same amount of light when compared to CFLs and LEDs that use just a fraction of it. Switching from incandescent bulbs to CFL or LEDs should help the company use less energy in lighting. This is the simplest and easiest ways to save energy in the workplace.

  1. Make Use of Natural Light

Always take advantage of the natural sunlight whenever you can. You can do so by drawing the blinds, curtains, and opening the windows to allow the sunlight in. Be sure to switch off lights in well-lit areas well. Letting the sunlight in also means you get passive heating from the sun, hence no need to have the heaters on. While it may seem like nothing, taking advantage of the natural sunlight should help save the business a few kilowatt hours a day.

  1. Run Fans

Have fans installed in showrooms, warehouses, kitchens, and offices alike. The fans will help keep the air moving, hence facilitate optimal air circulation. This means the HVAC system will run more efficiently and smoothly translating to lower energy consumption.

  1. Power Down Computers and Other Office Equipment When Not in Use

Having everyone power down their computers at the end of the day should help save lots of energy. You might also want to set the laptops to go to sleep or hibernate if not used for a certain number of minutes or hours. Be sure to turn off and unplug other electronic devices from the mains sockets.

Although modern toasters, coffee makers, printers, and other office appliances have a ‘sleep’ mode when not in use, these continue to draw some current if left plugged. Unplugging these will save some more kilowatts. 

  1. Avoid ‘Phantom’ Energy

As mentioned earlier, some equipment will continue to draw electricity when plugged in.  That said, making it a habit of unplugging such devices or using a power strip on them, can help save some energy. With a power strip, a simple flip of the switch will cut electricity supply to the connected devices. 

  1. Make Adjustments to the Surrounding Landscape

If you have control over the landscape around, you can then use it to your advantage. Energy-efficient landscaping, such as planting trees strategically to block winds and provide shelter, will go a long way in reducing heating and cooling costs.

  1. Involve the Employees

Encouraging the employees to take on energy-efficiency practices can help reduce electricity costs and energy wastage too. Train the employees to turn off their computers after work, switch off lights, as well as use energy efficient appliances in the workplace.  Inspiring them to save more energy should work well for the company. You can see more tips and tricks on how to improve employee energy-saving practices here.

Managing Your Business Maintenance Waste

Just 6% of businesses consider their maintenance department to be well established, showing just how little attention companies are paying to this area. As a result, wastage is often high, which eats into profit margins. When an office is refurbished, there will inevitably be some waste created, which the company must pay for. In order to mitigate the damage, business managers should put more attention into their maintenance strategy, acting preventatively rather than reactively. This way, waste will be limited. The resulting waste can then be converted into energy, thus becoming a money maker rather than a drain on resources.

Benefits of Sustainability for Business

Sustainability is really a no-brainer from a business perspective, yet many companies are failing to hit a sustainable level of waste management. US consumers are beginning to care more about a business’s environmental impact over the price of their products, with 67% supporting an end to single-use plastic straws. Not only will restructuring your waste strategy save you money on cleanup, but it will improve the image of your company. In these eco-conscious times, this is essential.

Furthermore, a recent poll by Michigan State University found that 88% of Americans take steps to reduce their food wastage. This shows how high a priority this is for the average customer. If you can target more resources towards sustainable waste management, then you are bound to see increased profits in other areas.

Scheduling and Planning

Cutting waste is all about taking preventative actions rather than reacting to circumstances as they arise. By planning your maintenance ahead of time, it is possible to identify areas where wastage will occur and take steps to avoid this. Work with the most experienced maintenance waste managers for the best results. You are probably already a top planner when it comes to marketing and sales, but are you using these skills when maintenance work needs carrying out?

Before any big construction or renovation project, have an expert identify the quantity of waste that will be produced. You will then be able to schedule in workers to come and remove it immediately, increasing efficiency and lowering costs. It is then up to you to dispose of this waste in a way which is responsible.

Profit From Your Waste

The average business uses between 15,000 and 25,000 kWh per year. This energy has to come from somewhere. Given the amount of waste produced by a typical company, why not put this back into your operation by converting it to energy or transforming it into useful products? This is a win-win situation. You get to carry out the necessary maintenance to keep your business running, while receiving free energy to power your company and promoting an eco-friendly brand image.

Maintenance is an important part of every business, but many managers neglect the cost of waste. Staying on top of your waste management is guaranteed to cut costs and boost profits. Have a waste management schedule in place and use the trash to provide a sustainable energy source as well as useful products.

Easy Ways to be Greener in Your Marine Business

Do you run a marine-oriented business? If so, then you may have a unique opportunity to practice environmental conservation. Water, as you know, plays a major role in sustaining life on Earth. Anything you can do to preserve and protect water goes a long way in helping to combat climate change. Here are a few easy ways to make your marine business greener. Marine work covers a wide range of fields, but we found a few tips and tricks that may be applicable to most relevant businesses.

Use Less Chemicals in Pools

Here’s a tip for those who work in pool maintenance: use less chemicals. You can use fewer chemicals and also maintain a clean and healthy pool. This may take some strategic planning on your part, but it’s possible.

There are two main chemicals that are used to kill bacteria in pools: chlorine and bromine. Chlorine is more commonly used because it’s cheaper. But bromine is a longer-lasting chemical. Chlorine requires weekly doses because it’s neutralized quickly. You don’t need to dose the pull with bromine every week because bromine is more resilient. When you use bromine, you’re using less chemicals, which is better for the environment.

The downside to bromine is that it’s much more expensive than chlorine. If you have clients who are passionate about the environment, you could explain this to them and ask if they’d be willing to pay a slightly higher fee for bromine chemicals. Remember that you might be able to reduce the number of visits to that pool if you use bromine on it, which could reduce your operational costs.

Use Pool Covers

Water naturally evaporates from pools, and pool owners spend a lot of money having to top-off the pool with water every month. It’s a bigger problem in warmer areas, like in Nevada or Southern California. Water is a resource that’s taken for granted, and some of those aforementioned regions experience severe water shortages in times of drought. You should try and limit how often your clients’ pools are re-filled.

Convince your clients to use pool covers during months when they don’t use the pool as frequently. Covers reduce the amount of water that evaporates from the pool. You may be able to charge clients for having your employees cover and uncover the pool. You can use pathos to argue your case; pool covers also prevent young children and small animals from drowning.

Practice Eco-Friendly Boating

Do you run a business that involves boating? Be careful about which chemicals you use when you’re cleaning and maintaining your boat. Some chemicals contribute to harmful emissions, while others can pollute the ocean or lakes and kill marine life.

You should use marine foam and marine paint when you’re doing maintenance on the hull and exterior features. Those materials are eco-friendly. You should avoid using antifouling paint, which is very dangerous for marine life. You should also limit your use of household cleaners. You don’t want these chemicals spilling into the ocean. Try and use natural cleaners instead, like vinegar, lemon, and baking soda.

It’s illegal to dump sewage in any body of navigable water because sewage is bad for the ocean. Always properly dispose of sewage at a pumpout facility. Be proactive in fixing leaks, and always have absorbent towels on hand to clean oil off the bilge.

SCUBA Conservation

If you run a dive shop, be vigilant in protecting the reefs where you take divers. Educate divers—especially new divers—about not touching coral reefs, and about being careful where they kick their fins. Most scuba divers are respectful of the underwater ecosystems, but there’s a bad apple in every bunch. If you have to, threaten to end dives short if any diver knowingly disobeys your environmental rules.

Recycle

Last, but certainly not least, recycle! Recycling is one of the easiest and most simple ways to make your marine business more eco-friendly. Regardless of whether you’re a contractor or if you work on a boat, you should always have recycling bins where you can toss used plastics and glass. Take these materials to recycling facilities so that they can be properly re-made into new items. Some recycling facilities even pay you for bringing in materials.

If you run a marine-based business, you have the potential to protect the environment in a huge number of ways. Practice eco-friendly cleaning methods and sustainability, and educate your clients on how they can contribute.

Ideas That Could Reshape How Companies Use Energy

Recent projections show that the world’s energy demands are about to increase by close to 25% between now and 2030. Population and wealth growth are the leading factors behind the increased need for energy. Additionally, issues related to pollution and climate change are compelling companies and investors alike with respect to how they produce and use energy.

Grs a global resource solutions company offers a plethora of services that could help industries reshape and streamline their energy consumption.

Energy efficiency is playing a vital role in helping the world achieve its power needs and progress.

Increase in Fuel Prices

The prices of energy have kept rising over the years even when oil prices have dropped as was the case in 2014-2015.Such sudden fluctuations can be difficult for businesses to deal with. Also, declines in energy prices have called into question whether the efforts in energy conservation and efficiency are worth it.

According to various financial analyses, energy costs form a considerable chunk of operating expenses. Worldwide, cement, chemical, mining and metal companies, for instance, spend almost 30% of their operating budget on energy. Additionally, the percent of the budget spent on energy is higher in developing nations due to the cheap cost of labor.

Energy Efficiency

Statistics and research show that operational upgrades can cut energy consumption by approximately 20%. Nonetheless, investment in energy efficiency technologies can reduce energy usage by even 50%.

The reports and findings show that it is not a pipe dream for manufacturing entities, which account for almost half of the world’s energy usage, to meet energy requirements in a way that is environmentally friendly and economical as well. Advanced technology could substantially reduce energy usage and save companies more than six hundred billion dollars per year.

There are technologies currently in place that can help industries reduce energy use. The ideas cover a range of manufacturing and production groups like cement, mining, oil refining and chemicals. Nonetheless, firms are facing the challenge of how to put energy efficiency technology in place how to renew the technology so that it stays relevant year in and year out.

Think Circular

Consider your product to be a future source that can be used many times. In other words, when developing a product, strive to move away from the traditional linear supply chain. Take, for example, a data services provider. Put in place the think circular standard by using an analytics system to develop a facility that restructures energy to its core function. This results in more capacity and less operational expenses.

Profit Per Hour

Whenever making any changes, remember to create a comprehensive review of the full profit equation. During the study, evaluate aspects such as yield, throughput and energy. Nonetheless, profit should be of the highest priority before effecting any changes.

Think Lean

It is vital for an organization to create a resource productivity plan. Lean thinking and green thinking are based on similar principles and will blend in together well.

Think Holistic

When making changes, ensure that they not only focus on a specific aspect. Instead, you should also focus on the management system, behavior and mindsets.

Zero-Waste Trends in the United States

Most people don’t see what happens to their trash. They throw it in a black plastic bag, toss the bag into a dumpster and the trash man collects it once a week and makes it disappear. Magic, right?

Wrong.

Most of our trash ends up in a landfill where it is buried and mixed in with decades-worth of junk. Certain items will break down over time while others are essentially just stored there, in a graveyard of forgotten items and a mountain of garbage.

In the year since China banned the import of other countries’ plastic recyclables, the global recycling industry has been in flux, resulting in plastics ending up in landfills, incinerators and littering the environment. This is causing countries and citizens across the globe to reexamine their recycling systems and highlights the need for zero waste practices.

Zero waste is the concept of eliminating the amount of trash thrown away by only purchasing reusable items. That’s a significant shift from the 4.4 pounds of trash that the average American tosses every day. But certain trends are helping make the idea of zero waste a reality in the United States. Let us have a look:

Replace Single-Use Packaging With Reusable Materials

Way too many plastic items that we use every day are meant to be used only once. And the amount of packaging that goes into shipping one box, that will simply get tossed in the garbage after the parcel is unwrapped, is astounding. In fact, 40 percent of plastic produced is packaging, which is thrown away after it arrives at your doorstep.

Plastic bag and straw bans are on the rise across the globe. Consumers are becoming more conscious of how their use of these items contributes to the trash crisis. Recent data shows that customers are more likely to buy products from brands that promote sustainable business practices.

Reduce Energy Waste By Choosing Renewable Options

Many industries are opting to reduce energy waste by pursuing renewable energy sources. U.S. manufacturers account for 30 percent of the nation’s energy consumption, which means manufacturers must take the lead in reducing fossil fuel consumption and energy waste.

The U.S. is the leader in energy waste. Americans spend $350 billion on energy costs each year, yet three-quarters of that energy goes to waste. One way to reduce the burden on our power grid — and our wallets — from all that lost energy is by switching to renewable sources.

Air compressors are vital to the upkeep of a successful farm, and many producers in the agricultural sector are also reducing waste by switching to high-powered air compressors that, when properly maintained, can reduce energy usage and cut costs.

Eliminate Food Waste

About 94 percent of food waste ends up in landfills, which contribute to methane gas emissions. Reducing food waste not only helps the environment, but it also decreases the amount you have to spend at the grocery store. It also helps to conserve energy, as less power is needed to grow and produce food if less is wasted.

Individual consumers can help eliminate food waste by freezing leftovers to preserve them and composting uneaten food, as opposed to tossing in the trash.

Restaurants can use these tactics and others to cut down on food waste, such as donating leftovers and properly training staff to get on board with waste reduction. They can also hire auditors to help them identify ways to reduce waste and streamline business practices.

Never Too Late to Make a Change

Though the statistics may seem disheartening, the reality is that it’s never too late to make a change in your individual or business habits to help cut down on waste and work toward the goal of accomplishing zero waste. Following these trends and implementing others is just one way to do your part to eliminate waste and protect the environment.

How to Incorporate Sustainability into Your Business

Since catapulting to the frontlines of news headlines and global consciousness, climate change is one of the most talked about and concerning topics of the modern age. Fortunately with this shift in cognition, manufacturers all across the globe have banded together to create green products in hopes of a more eco-friendly future. It’s these very products that can transform any business from a wasteful guzzler to a green success. With this guide, we’ll walk you through how you can incorporate sustainability into your daily business practice.

Switch out the incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs for a longer-lasting and more energy-efficient brilliance. Compact-fluorescent (CFL) and LED light bulbs tend to carry higher price tags than the average fluorescent bulb, however they offer a far more attractive projected lifespan than typical fluorescent bulbs which tend to offer 1,200 hours of  light.

LED bulbs, on average, cost around $5 and offer 25,000 hours of light, while CFL light bulbs cost about $2 and offer 10,000 hours of projected lifespan. Not only are CFL and LED lights more practical from a sustainability standpoint, but they will also save you thousands on your business’s electric bill.

Using biodegradable kitchen supplies to save on plastic waste. Unless your office is the type of place where employees keep personal dishes in the kitchen cupboard, you will likely need to keep a stash of utensils, cups, and plates on deck for any catered lunches or work parties. Instead of giving into the cheap prices of eco-unfriendly plastic ware, invest in biodegradable kitchen packaging for a greener feast. With fewer resource requirements, these biodegradable forks, spoons, and knives will leave your business with a reduced carbon footprint.

Green SMEs

Recycling ink cartridges is a great practice to put in place for businesses equipped with a number of printers. Believe it or not, the vast majority of discarded ink cartridges end up in harmful, toxic landfills that eventually end up in our oceans. Ink cartridge recycling is the most eco-friendly solution to this preventable problem. There are a number of simple ways to take those empty cartridges off your hands and into the hands of a trusted recycler:

  • Find a local recycling facility: You may not even know where your local recycle center is located. Luckily Earth911 can guide you to the nearest location for easy cartridge recycling.
  • Find a local office supply store: Did you know most office supply stores offer recycle programs? Check online or call in to see if they accept ink cartridges.
  • Consider refilling original cartridges: Do a bit of research on the brand of your empty ink cartridge. You may find that they are able to refill your cartridge and you won’t ever have to worry about tossing them!

Opening up windows is an easy solution to a stuffy, warm office. When people are packed like sardines into their tiny cubicles, the air can quickly become stale and stifling. Instead of wasting money and energy on air conditioning, open a few windows to let fresh air flow in. Air conditioners put hydrofluorocarbons, a type of greenhouse gas emission, into the environment—so while you may feel refreshed, the earth is further harmed. Reduce your business’ contribution by saving the AC for the more-unbearable summer days.

Invest in renewable energy sources for a long-term, energy-efficient, and eco-friendly power solution. Every year, we see more and more solar panels sitting atop rooftops, which means the time to invest in solar panels is now. By converting sunlight into a sustainable power source, solar panels are the greenest source of energy on the planet today. Solar energy can be used heat buildings and provide energy to power lights on.

Turning to post-consumer waste to escape the cycle of high-volume paper waste is an exceptional solution for any company that uses a lot of paper. PCW paper is paper re-made at recycling facilities. According to the Environmental Paper Network Paper Calculator, PCW paper saves on

  • 5,610 gallons of water
  • 5,000,000 BTU of energy
  • 376 pounds of solid waste
  • 1,035 pounds of CO2 greenhouse gas emissions

In 2019, there are no more excuses for why a business is stuck in the past. The future can be a bright one if we all put our best foot forward and make the effort to make our spaces greener!

Waste Minimisation – Role of Public, Private and Community Sector

waste-minisationWhen it comes to waste minimisation and moving material up the waste hierarchy you will find partisan advocates for the roles of the public, private and community sectors. Each will tell you the reasons why their sector’s approach is the best. The private sector will extol their virtues as the only ones capable of efficiently and effectively doing the job.  They rightly note that they are the providers on the front lines who actually recover the vast majority of material, that the private sector approach drives innovation and efficiency, and that if waste minimisation is to be sustainable this must include economic sustainability.

The community sector on the other hand will make a strong case to say that their model, because it commonly encompasses social, environmental, and economic outcomes, is able to leverage value from recovered materials to dig deeper into the waste stream, to optimise recovered material quality, and to maximise employment and local economic benefit.

Before recycling and composting were economically viable prospects, community sector organisations led the way, developing many of the techniques now widely used. They remain the leaders in marginal areas such as furniture reuse, running projects that deliver environmental outcomes while providing wider community benefits such as rehabilitation and training for marginalised groups.

Finally, in the public sector corner, advocates will point out that the profit-driven private sector will only ever recover those materials that are able to generate positive revenues, and so cannot maximise waste minimisation, while social outcomes are strictly a secondary consideration. The community sector, on the other hand, while encompassing non-monetary values and capable of effective action on a local scale, is not set up to deliver these benefits on a larger scale and can sometimes struggle to deliver consistent, professional levels of service.

The public sector can point to government’s role in legislating to promote consistent environmental and social outcomes, while councils are major providers and commissioners of recycling services and instrumental in shaping public perceptions around waste issues. The public sector often leads in directing activity towards non-monetary but otherwise valuable outcomes, and provides the framework and funding for equity of service levels.

So who is right? Each sector has good arguments in its favour, and each has its weaknesses. Does one approach carry the day?  Should we just mix and match according to our personal taste or based on what is convenient?

Perhaps we are asking the wrong question. Maybe the issue is not “which approach is better?” but instead “how might the different models help us get to where we ultimately want to go?”

Smells Like Waste Minimisation

So where do we want to go?  What is the waste minimisation end game?

If we think about things from a zero waste perspective, the ideal is that we should move from linear processes of extraction, processing, consumption and disposal, to cyclical processes that mimic nature and that re-integrate materials into economic and natural systems.  This is the nirvana – where nothing is ‘thrown away’ because everything has a further beneficial use.  In other words what we have is not waste but resources.  Or to put it another way – everything has value.

Assuming that we continue to operate in an essentially capitalist system, value has to be translated into economic terms.  Imagine if every single thing that we now discard was worth enough money to motivate its recovery.  We would throw nothing away: why would we if there was money to be made from it?

So in a zero waste nirvana the private sector and the community sector would take care of recovery almost automatically.  There might evolve a community and private sector mix, with each occupying different niches depending on desired local outcomes. There would be no need for the public sector to intervene to promote waste minimisation.  All it would need to do would be to set some ground rules and monitor the industry to ensure a level playing field and appropriate health and safety.

Sectoral Healing

Returning to reality, we are a long way from that zero waste nirvana.  As things stand, a bunch of materials do have economic value, and are widely recycled. Another layer of materials have marginal value, and the remainder have no value in practical terms (or even a negative value in the case of hazardous wastes).

The suggested shift in perspective is most obvious in terms of how we think about the role of the public sector. To bring us closer to our goal, the public sector needs to intervene in the market to support those materials of marginal value so that they join the group that has genuine value.

Kerbside (or curbside) collection of certain materials, such as glass and lower value plastics, is an example of an activity that is in effect subsidised by public money. These subsidies enable the private sector to achieve environmental outcomes that we deem sufficiently worthwhile to fund.

However, the public sector should not just be plugging a gap in the market (as it largely does now), but be working towards largely doing itself out of a job. If we are to progress towards a cyclical economy, the role of the public sector should not be to subsidise marginal materials in perpetuity, but to progressively move them from marginal to genuinely economic, so that they no longer require support.

At the same time new materials would be progressively targeted and brought through so that the range and quantity requiring disposal constantly shrinks.  This suggests a vital role for the public sector that encompasses research, funding for development of new technologies and processes, and setting appropriate policy and price structures (such as through taxes, levies, or product stewardship programmes).

Similarly, the community sector, because it is able to ‘dig deeper’ into the waste stream, has a unique and ongoing role to play in terms of being able to more effectively address those materials of marginal value as they begin to move up the hierarchy.  The community sector’s unique value is its ability to work at the frontiers.

Meanwhile, the private sector’s resources and creativity will be needed to enable efficient systems to be developed to manage collection, processing and recycling of materials that reach the threshold of economic viability – and to create new, more sustainable products that fit more readily into a waste minimising world.

In the end, then, perhaps the answer is to stop seeing the three models as being in competition. Instead, we should consciously be utilising the unique characteristics of each so that we can evolve our practices towards a future that is more functional and capable of delivering the circular economy that must eventuate if we are to sustain ourselves on this planet.

Note: The article is being republished with the kind permission of our collaborative partner Isonomia. The original article can be viewed at this link