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Guest Post: Greening your Business isn’t as hard as you think …

You might be forgiven for being slightly skeptical of a company in the industrial and warehouse supplies sector being interested in the environment but
everyone at our company was very keen to do what we could to be a bit greener. We decided in March this year we would start things off by making our head office as ‘green’ as possible as it would also set a good example to visiting customers.

Reduction of Paper Use

It may sound crass but none of our existing printers could print double-sided! As they were coming to the end of their useful lives, it was an easy decision to replace them with printers that could duplex (as well as pump out a bit less heat and noise!). There had never been a paper recycling bin (not even for re-using as scrap) and staff were also encouraged to send less letters and paper invoices when there was a PDF or email alternative. There has been a general trend at our head office over many years to use less paper, but to have this formalized and also to proactively ask customers if they would mind receiving invoices electronically was a very positive step. There was also a huge clear-out of many years’ worth of paper folders – which aside from producing a mountain of paper for recycling also reinforced the message to store things digitally – paper folders and files were not replaced.

As a business that sent out a lot of catalogues this was another concern. Over the past 5 years we calculated that the number of paper catalogues had halved and that we would try and continue this trend. We opted for a re-designed website, more product videos and more PDFs of catalogue sections which could be emailed or downloaded.

Reduction in energy consumption

The new printers used far less energy – we calculated that one of them used 80% less that an older one. Our server was getting on a bit so we again replaced it with an energy efficient version – obviously this would have been a high capital cost if the server was still quite new but for us this wasn’t an issue. We considered cloud storage, which would have been a lower cost and even more energy efficient, but were reluctant to do this since one of our legacy software systems needed a local server. Cloud storage is a great environmental solution for many companies as it is a much more efficient way to store data in one central place rather than have lots of places with huge and wasteful spare capacity.

On a less hi tech note, we also had a look at reducing the air conditioning usage. Unlike many companies we are in the lucky position that we can open our windows – so on all but the hottest days we have the air con switched off. One last thing is that we hope to be switching to a green energy supplier shortly!

More Recycling

As well as recycling paper we are also recycling glass, plastic and ink cartridges – fortunately we were able to supply ourselves with some colorful recycling bins (pictured). We have also taken some of our older office equipment (chairs, desks and a some shelving) to a local charity shop – although these items were a bit worn they are still absolutely fine to be used – I think some of the old shelving has found its way into a member of staff’s shed!

Some of these measures will cost money although others like the new server and printers were due to be replaced anyway. In the longer term, lower paper use and energy consumption will save money – which is a good way to sell the greener office idea to your boss!

Richard Bloomfield is the website editor for The Workplace Depot

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