9 Earth Day tips

Earth Day is Friday, April 22. While its purpose is to spread awareness about our fragile environment, it’s also a great opportunity for business owners to showcase their eco-friendliness. Even if you’re not particularly green, consider: Research consistently shows that customers prefer eco-conscious businesses.

Earth Day 2016Here are nine ways to go green this Earth Day and every day, earn customer loyalty and save some green too.

  1. Emphasize your green-ness. Almost every firm can point to eco-friendly policies, products for services — what’s yours? Some businesses, like BDP client Triple R Recycling are thoroughly green, and make that a selling point. You have to be honest, however. If you use language like “green” or “organic,” be sure you’re telling the truth. “Organic” in particular is carefully defined and regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so if your product doesn’t meet these standards, legally you can’t use the term.
  2. Go paperless. How many bills do you pay online? For most of us, it’s all or nearly all of them. Why not do the same in your business? And what about those brochures, pamphlets, save the date cards and newsletters? Tell your employees to curtail their printing, too. At the very least, tell them to print on both sides of a sheet. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the average U.S. worker uses goes through 10,000 sheets of copy paper per year. That’s a lot of trees.
  3. Dial it back. Install a programmable thermostat. When no one is in the building (typically eight or more hours a day), it can adjust the temperature by 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit (cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer) and reduce energy bills by more than 10 percent.
  4. Turn it off. “Phantom” loads are power used keeping equipment in the “ready” mode. Use power strips to completely shut down energy consumption of equipment not in use. Digital equipment (computers, microwaves) uses 75 percent of their¬†energy in standby mode. If a piece of equipment has a “black box” plug, it is using energy even when off.
  5. Ease off. Sure, gas is relatively cheap now, but for how much longer? We’ve already seen prices creep up recently, with more likely increases on the horizon. Try driving a bit slower — even under the speed limit, and always at a steady pace. If you have more than one car at your disposal, use the most energy-efficient one as often as possible. Avoid rush hour and peak traffic times when possible, too, when you can spend minutes sitting with both you and your car fuming. When the air conditioner is on, make sure the air is being recirculated instead of bringing in hot, outside air.
  6. Install high efficiency plumbing fixtures and appliances. Seen those automatic toilets and sinks? It’s hard not to. They’re everywhere these days. And they’re everywhere for a reason: Newer or automated toilets, pre-rinse spray valves, clothes washers, dishwashers, public sinks, kitchen and bathroom aerators and showerheads save significant amounts of water and money.
  7. Reduce shipping and packaging waste. Request that any materials be shipped in returnable containers. Replace cardboard boxes with durable, reusable boxes for shipments to your branch offices, stores and warehouses. Return, reuse and repair wooden pallets or find a supplier that uses resilient plastic pallets. Reuse foam packaging pellets (“peanuts”) and cardboard boxes, too, or find someone who will.
  8. Find profitable ways to re-use your business waste. Visit the Missouri Recycling Association’s (MORA) materials markets and exchanges page¬†to see if you can donate, exchange or even sell your byproducts.
  9. Take advantage of tax credits and incentives. The federal Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was expanded in 2008 and has been amended a number of times, most recently in December 2015. It now allows credits for solar energy, fuel cells, microturbines (small wind-energy systems), geothermal heat pumps and much, much more. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) shows 59 energy incentives and policies in Missouri alone, ranging from a City of Kansas City solar easement and geothermal access credit to a St. Louis program that offers financing on everything from solar water heating and photovoltaics to ceiling fans.

Going green isn’t just hip. It can and should be profitable.

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