Best Green Business Tip Contest

A huge trend today is going green in your business.  “Going green” sounds weighty – but it’s not really.  It can be very simple stuff that brings BIG benefits — everything from making double-sided photocopies so you save paper, to swapping out incandescent light bulbs for more efficient fluorescent bulbs.  Not only are you doing something worthwhile for our environment, but you can save money.

So, to encourage others to “go green” in their small businesses, I’m collecting tips for going green.  I will publish the best ones in a “Top 100 Tips for Going Green in Your Business” roundup.

And since YOU always have the best ideas, I’m asking your help.

Please share a tip about how YOU are going green in your business, or how others can go green.  No matter how small you think a green activity is, it’s worthwhile.  And I want to hear from you.

RANDOM DRAWING

To sweeten the pot, I’ve got a great big THANK YOU.  HP has kindly donated a brand-new desktop computing suite to give away.  If you share a tip and it’s included in the roundup, I will enter your name in a random drawing.  One lucky winner will receive this powerful and energy-efficient suite of computer equipment for your office.

HP desktop computing suite

The above drawing is limited to U.S.-based people and small businesses.

INTERNATIONAL DRAWING — I separately will hold a random drawing to choose another non-U.S. winner, who will receive a $100 gift certificate to an online retailer of your choice in your country.  In other words, we’ll have 2 winners with 2 different prizes — one for U.S. people and one for those outside the U.S.

HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR TIP

There are two ways to share tips:  (1) Leave a comment below this post.  Or (2) submit your tip on this Form. Either way is OK.  Go for it!  Deadline to submit your tip is October 7, 2009 at 11:59 PM, Los Angeles time.

69 Comments ▼

Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses, and also serves as CEO of TweakYourBiz.com.

69 Reactions

  1. Ever thought about what happens to all the trash your business generates? The pop cans and paper? Making your business more green can be as simple as putting together a basic recycling program. Even if it’s only a special trash can for paper waste every little bit helps.

  2. One way to “go green” in your business is to utilize recycled printer cartridges. Instead of throwing your your printer cartridge out when it runs out of toner (or ink), hold on to it. There are recycled printer cartridge stores (and online as well) that will give you a discount on a replacement recycled printer cartridge. Not only are you saving money but also helping to reduce the amount of printer cartridges that end up in landfills across the country.

    Lisa Sims
    http://www.stretchingyourcash.com

  3. For three days, disconnect your printer from the network and connect it to one computer in the office. If every time you have to print you have to save the doc to a thumb drive and go somewhere else, you really only print those things that are must-haves. You’ll be amazed at how much less you need to print!

  4. If you still need to fax documents, retire the old paper machine in favor of a scanner or eFax service. No more separate paper, toner, power and maintenance, and you only print the ones you really need to (if any).

  5. Greening your business is easy and small things can make a big difference.

    Recycle unwanted paper & cardboard.
    Eliminate disposable cups and utensils.
    Purchase recycles printer cartridges.
    Work from home!

  6. Anita,

    WOW!

    Here’s the easiest one;

    Turn off your PC’s power strip every night. Saves over $150 a year!

    The Franchise King
    Joel Libava

  7. Green clean your office. Replacing one non-green cleaning product can have dramatic consequences. There are green cleaning choices for every cleaning job but let’s focus on windows. Example: One concentrated bottle of window cleaner can replace 728 bottles of a popular window cleaner that is not green. The toxins, chemicals and fumes would not be in the air of the office anymore, and the biodegradable green window cleaner is better for the environment. On top of that, the concentrated bottle costs about $10.00 and $3.00 for a spray bottle to add your own water to the two drops that are required to make a very effective window cleaner; the 728 bottles cost $3,232.32 at a discount store. That’s a money savings of over $3,200.00! Last, the cost to manufacture and ship the 728 bottles in terms of environmental pollution is eliminated, as well as the space they take in landfills. This one very easy to do green alternative saves money, is healthier, and helps the environment. How is that for a Win-Win-Win suggestion?

    Vicki
    http://www.EarthDayCleanEveryDay.com (check out the savings link)

  8. Joel had a great tip. Not sure this is a green tip (still learning) print only on draft setting and use both sides of paper. If this doesn’t qualify position your desk to capture all the sunlight when possible.

  9. How about not trashing the papers but collecting them and giving them for bulk recycling?

  10. Do your best to go paperless:

    * Don’t print out directions, have them sent to your phone.
    * Go electronic with all your monthly bills and statements.
    * Scan/shred/recycle/store/backup all important paper documents.

    - John

  11. I believe it’s time to return to using the old but faithful #2 wood pencil. How many pens to you through away each year? The wood pencil does the same job as the pen except when you need to sign any “legal” documents.
    I also reuse/recycle paper from my printer. I just turn over the printed paper and use the other side then put in recycle bin if I don’t save. I tend to buy a lot less paper each year.

  12. I turn my wireless mouse off every evening. It seems to really extend the life of my batteries which means less batteries in the landfills.

  13. A local retail business I worked with started a program called “change for bags”.

    They asked everyone if they wanted to refuse a bag – notice they didn’t say “do you want a bag”. Every time someone refused a bag they dropped a nickel into a jar on the counter. When the jar filled they donated the money to an environmental cause. Double Green!

  14. Did you know that Energy Star recommends that you power down all electronics — computer, monitor, printer, and other peripherals — when not in use? This includes unplugging power strips at the end of the day, because they consumer energy even when the equipment is shut off. But be sure to power down all equipment connected to the power strip first.

    You can find more tips at hp.com/PowerToChange

  15. Tips that I gather to create e-books and downloadable reports are written on the back (blank side) of my old business cards.

    This is better for me than writing on paper, as I usually misplace the paper before I’m done.

    One tip is written on each card, and all cards stay in the original shipping box until I’m ready to compile the ebook or report.

  16. Anita,

    I used the Google Docs spreadsheet. It is about the increasing sales of laptops compared to PCs and the next generation of lithium-ion battery technology by Boston-Power.

  17. Everyone is different so the best way to go ‘green’ is to first get an accurate reading of what you are using and how much. This can be of anything like energy, water or paper for example. This is called getting a base line. If you don’t get a base line first you will never REALLY know if you are doing better or not with all of the different ways to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. All of the ideas are great and they will work but for maximum benefit you need to know where you are starting from. This also means that you can choose goal and have a celebration when you achieve it. This goal setting is very important in keeping your focus on what YOU want to do and not some consultant like myself.
    Keep up the good work!
    Barry

  18. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. There are the three Rs and are on their way to becoming good business practice for many small businesses for going Green. It is the buzz going on these days. Promoting green practices can be helpful to your Business success.

  19. Change your business toilets from regular tank to dual flush–save tons of water. Switch from paper coffee filters to reusable filters. Buy air pots for office coffee rather than keeping a brewer “on” (coffee tastes better too). Buy a water filter and eliminate bottled water. Use recyled printer paper–you can barely tell the difference these days. Recycle everything the city allows: paper, cans, glass, plastic bags, cardboard, plastic bottles. You’ll be surprised at how little trash you make when the intention is to reduce–if you do that you may be able to reduce plastic trash can liners as well.

  20. My Tip:

    When someone tries to give you paper — resume, brochure, pamphlet, legal document, anything — tell them:

    “I can’t accept anything on paper. Please send me an electronic copy and I’ll file it.”

    If they press you, or if you feel like it, you can follow with:

    “If you give me that I have no place to put it — no filing cabinet, no drawers, and so forth. I have an excellent filing system on my computer. So if you hand this to me I will literally just put it in the trash, but if you send me it I will keep it forever.”

    This is a nice way to pay it forward!

  21. A unique way to go green is to reduce and eliminate the unnecessary need of payroll checks and paystubs.

    You can now store paystubs online so that your employees can access them when they want them. The added cost of paper and sometimes check paper to print this information is useless. Most employees don’t need them anyway until the end of the year.

    Payroll checks can also be eliminated by having the use of a paycard for employees who do not have checking accounts. A lot of construction, temporary agencies and janitorial companies make use of a paycard.

    More information on Green Payroll Here: http://www.entreorp.com/green-payroll

  22. Buy a coffee mug and a water bottle for every employee, plus a few extras for guests who come in for meetings. Stop buying paper cups. Period.

    Also, take the coffee grounds (no doubt your office makes several pounds each day, at least), put them in a large plastic container, and take turns taking them home to fertilize your gardens or add to compost piles.

  23. We at Say Leadership Coaching adopted this mantra as part of our Core 2009 Initiatives: “Less is More: Use it or Lose it.” It started out as clutter-busting to streamline the office environment and move toward more mobile and virtual work. However once we’d warmed up with the usual material culprits we turned our attention to all our business practices – outdated coaching/teaching curriculum, workshop exercises we were tiring of – just about everything. We have found the mantra is helping us break auto-pilot routines and put any sacred cows out to pasture where they belong. Going “green” in your thought processes can release a lot of creativity and banish complacency.

  24. In this age of heightened technology, in which online business is becoming more and more popular, HOPEFULLY businesses are becoming more green in some ways without even realizing it. One BIG example of this is paper. With the use of online applications and multiple methods of backing up information electronically, there should be a drastic decrease in the amount of information that needs to be printed out on paper.

    So my tip- don’t print on paper unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you do need to print something, make sure to proofread and make sure it is error-free BEFORE printing it out to eliminate having to print the same thing twice.

  25. Allow telecommuting at least one day a week, if it’s feasible for your company. By doing this, you reduce the energy produced in the office. Employees can reduce their carbon footprint (gas or public transportation) once a week as well.

  26. Implement paperless bill management and payment. Use new web-based services that make it easy for vendors to send bills directly to the service, saving the environmental cost of postage and saving paper. Use these services to route bills to the right people in your company, saving paper and ink needed for duplication. And finally, use these services to make electronic payments to both large and small vendors. You’ll save on the time and cost of managing and paying bills, and also dramatically reduce your carbon footprint.

  27. Some things we do:

    1. Set up a compost pail for food scraps, paper towels, paper plates
    2. Purchase carbon credits for office electricity use
    3. Contact your power company to see if they offer wind energy as an option. For about $4.00 more per month we are purchasing wind power instead of non-renewable sources.
    4. Wrap packages in 100% recycled kraft paper instead of using plastic bags
    5. All promotional banners are made out of recycled pop bottles and printed with water-based ink.

  28. For the upcoming holiday season, send clients and other business contacts a green holiday greeting card…cards are 50 percent sugarcane by-products and 50 percent recycled paper content, envelopes are from 100% recycled paper: http://bit.ly/oRNUJ

  29. All Restaurants , for takeout purposes, should provide containers made from non-plastic containers or at the very least recyclable containers. There is still too much styrofoam, plastic lids, and hard plastic containers everywhere! Also utensils made from cornstarch or potato are great! A great direction restaurants should start to go is to charge customers for takeout containers, encouraging patrons to bring their own containers from home.

  30. Shop and support local companies…by shopping locally you save on emissions and help the local economies.

  31. Replace your ancient equipment! Computers are in every office and they stay on for hours at a time. Make sure that yous is energy efficient. Take a look at the Energy Star site to help you choose the right one http://tinyurl.com/2c2d2f.

    I’ve just upgraded to MacBook Pro, it’s super energy efficient http://www.apple.com/macbookpro/environment.html

  32. This is what our competition doesn’t want you to know when you need to upgrade your datacenter:

    Instead of spending thousands of dollars replacing your server control systems, repurpose them with IP gateways so you can merge rather than splurge on your IT.

    Adding new technology on top of existing legacy IT systems to a business is less costly and more efficient than replacing the whole IT infrastructure.

    Save on new expenses:
    Upgrade your business within a reasonable budget
    Lower Installation costs
    Maximize past investments
    Continue to reap the rewards of prior infrastructure investments
    Leverage corporate know-how
    Don’t throw away perfectly working products (green approach)
    No extra training costs

  33. I own a catering business, and large portions of our events are wedding. As I am rebranding the business, Catering Celebrations, and recreating our website, we are making a new position within the company to help reach the wedding market.

    Our website needs to be a “hub” that attracts brides naturally through the search engines, through the blogosphere, and through the social media sites. Brides will always be 23 – 28 years old and we will continue to market to them by whatever means they communicate by.

    I am creating a ‘Coordinator of Cool’ position in our company. We have college students work as interns, whose job is to reach out and market the business in the social networking internet world. A world they know well. They create, update and maintaining the business image on the internet. They help market the restaurant and catering on MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, etc. and look out for the next up and coming social media site. They will assist with blogs and post about special events, menus, types of catering we are doing or have just done, which in return will keep the SEO high, with fresh content. Why is this Green? I’m not advertising in Magazine, newspapers, handouts! Has saved us thousands of dollars and generated business, and save me precious time from being on the computer!

  34. Use rechargable batteries in your wireless mouse / keyboard, prevents all those batteries from filling landfills

  35. 1. Use a coin-operated printer/copier/fax so people thing before they print.
    2. Purchase an energy star projector that can be used in meetings and eliminate the need to print anything
    3. Use Google Docs so that people can access documents from anywhere w/o ever having to print something out
    4. Motion detector-activated lights in every room
    5. Buy/rent in sustainable living architected buildings
    6. Take cube walls down to provide light and facilitate air flow
    7. Ask your cleaning staff to use natural cleaning products

  36. For small business IT systems, use free virtualization products like VMware ESXi, VMware Server and desktop to run multiple virtual machines (windows or linux) on single physical machine. There will be lot of savings in capex (hardware) and opex (power and administrators). Productivity also will improve as less management is required. Similarly use free software like Edison to switch off PCs automatically during end of business and weekends

  37. Ready for this? Adjust your thermostat! Set it at 74 to save on air conditioning. Nobody is going to cook at a few degrees warner temps. In the winter, 70.

    Here’s a generic tip. Ease your organization into green. Get a list of all (most) of the ways to green your office. Pick one and start doing that. In a couple weeks or even a month, pick the next one, then the next. Before you know it, you will be practicing, not just talking about it.

  38. We recently moved to a green home we built in Asheville, NC. I had an old desk that wasn’t in the best of shapes. Instead of buying a new desk and giving this away, I found an artist in town who reclaimed the wood, added metal and created a gorgeous “new” desk for me. Tip: Before you through out or even give something to Goodwill, ask yourself if there is a way you can use what you have with some modification such as painting it, sanding it, or finding someone who can transform it into something wonderful.

  39. Buy environmentally friendly supplies. Yes, they may cost a bit more. But the more people who buy them, the more affordable for everyone they will become.

  40. My tip is to reuse all packaging that comes into your office. Padded envelopes, bubble wrap, cardboard boxes, mailing tubes and carefully opened envelopes can all be reused. I love tips that save the planet but **save me money too** – it’s makes total business sense.

    Each day I carefully slice envelopes and packaging open and store them. When I have some letters or a parcel to send, I select the right packaging from my reuse stash!
    It also means I can pass P&P savings on to people who buy things from me! AND it’s so simple that colleagues can be empowered in the process which helps plants seeds about being careful with resources.

    I’ve collected so much packaging in the past I’ve had to give it away on Freecycle, it’s amazing what you can collect once you start :)

  41. Great tips, everyone. I am SO enjoying these — already found some I will use in my own business. Keep them coming!

  42. I second many of above, we’ve done them too.

    In addition, if you market through trade shows and events:

    Save money and help the environment by selecting (or switching to) light weight portable displays using fabric graphic displays created with low-VOC inks.

    What makes them green? Key points = less impact on environment from low-VOC inks, less impact from aluminum or aluminum alloy frames, and *significantly* less gasoline/carbon used in shipping due to much lower weights.

    (Low shipping wts and easy setups save tons of $ too)

    Also for small charge extra, you can get graphic panels made out of recycled and recyclable materials!

    For a bit more detail on what you can do, read

    “DOES “GOING GREEN” AT TRADE SHOWS NEED TO COST YOU “GREEN”?”

    at http://imprintedoriginals.com/pages/trade_show/trade_show_tips-15.htm

  43. For larger manufacturing facilities, they could have $50K in savings and help the environment by switching all their halogen bulbs to fluorescent bulbs!

  44. If you’re like most businesses, you have loads of meetings and special events. Often businesses think that if they “go green” for celebrations, that means a lot of money needs to be spent. Just not true.

    Make an effort to green meetings and special events like office parties, anniversary parties, picnics etc. Look at each aspect of the event: food, decorations, activities and gifts/awards/prizes. In each of these areas, what can you do to reduce waste? Here are a few answers:
    1. Buy less. We toss 10-25% of what we buy and most ends up in landfills. You can have a great party without having tons of leftovers.
    2. Aim for zero waste. If you do have leftovers, compost, recycle bottles etc.
    3. Instead of giving “things” as gifts or awards, offer experiences, tickets to events or privileges within the company.
    4. Stage events during the time of day when the least amount of electricity is used for both lighting and heat/air conditioning.
    5. Set up carpools if events are offsite.

    None of these ideas cost money, but all can contribute to a healthier planet.

  45. Anita,

    Thanks for the chance to win a new computer suite.

    1. Worm composters in kitchens,(Calf. #2 idea for businesses that want to green their offices.)
    2. Pull out all power chargers that aren’t charging something and coffee makers that aren’t brewing. Phontom loads add up!! Kapeshe?
    3. Have inner-city students visit your business or intern there. Social responsiblity is part of sustainabilty and urban students need business role models.

    That’s it. One more note and hope you don’t mind. I have posted a notice of your contest on my blog http://buildingctgreen.com/AuggieVGreenBlog/

    Best,

    Adam

  46. Conserving energy/electricity use in the office or home office is one way of Going Green for your business. Turn off unnecessary lights and electrical devices not in use. Also, make the most of our online tools to collaborate projects and share documents with everyone in the team. In this way, we lessen up the need of printing every document needed to be shared thus saving a lot of resources.

  47. Oh now this is a giveaway made for me! I have built me business around growing others green, specifically paperless. There are so many ways to reduce or eliminate paper in the office.
    My biggest one, I try to practice what I preach, when I moved I did not connect my printer back to the computer… that was a year ago!! Just go for it, paperless contracts, online document sharing, blogs, social media, there is simply no need to print! Just DON’T do it!

  48. Get in touch with your electric utility. Many offer free energy audits, giving you more ideas on how to cut down on your electrical consumption. Some water utilities do the same.

  49. Pocket Box (Ceral box type largest~ not coragated cardboard box)
    take a largest empty box for recyling
    unfold the ends to make flat,
    then fold in flaps on one bottom,
    now flaten all other boxes and insert into
    the largest pocket box Stuff box full of the other flatten boxes
    even foling some to fit
    Good and easy way to contain the boxes for recyling

  50. Creat a Green Suggestion Box & place it somewhere with a lot of workplace traffic, in a very visible location. Pass the recycled packaging box, appropriated cooler or whatever you use around & ask different departments, groups or people – whatever the case may be – to decorate it with a fun, upbeat green workplace theme. These can be drawings, things pasted on the box, items affixed to the box, etc.

    Get a few thrift shop tchotchkes or old trophys & green them up in a silly way. Offer a monthly prize of something small, but coveted, for the best tip. Usually people in different parts of an operation have a lot of direct insight as to what improvements can & should be implemented & when you make it fun, competitive & ongoing, you’re sure to get the best ideas.

    The prize can be anything, really- an extra half hour for lunch one day, a nice reusable coffee cup or grocery bags, or just the possession of the biggest, best trophy for a month.

    Make reviewing – & implementing- the suggestions a regular part of the office/workplace routine & you’ll find many smart, money saving tips flow in on an ongoing basis, ones that are tailor made for your workplace.

    Give people a way to share, and believe it or not, they usually will.

  51. Extremely low-cost and energy efficient:
    1. Shut the entire office down every Friday pm (and I mean everything).
    2. Work 10 hr days and shut down Friday, Saturday and Sunday (every week, every other week or at least once per month–employees will love you as well).
    3. Turn the thermostat down on the water heater and a/c.
    4. Swap out all the light bulbs.
    5. Recycle everything (and I mean everything)that can be recycled.
    6. Subscribe to efax for everyone in office.
    7. Use online servers (free or low-cost)for storing docs.
    8. Learn how to properly utilize natural light sources in the winter (warmth) and to control in the summer (keep area cool)
    9. Make going green fun for the entire office: best ideas= awards, time off, coupons to for energy efficient appliances, etc. (but by all means, please do not form another committee!!)
    10. Install a water filter (instead of delivered bottled water)

  52. Instead of printing a document and throwing it out after we’re done with it, we re-use it to print on the blank side of the paper. It has cut our paper costs dramatically. We’re also conscientious about printing in the first place.

  53. Going paperless as a company is easier now than it has ever been. With email, track changes and digital signatures, almost any reason to print is eliminated. Try it for a week, then see if it’s possible from there. Going paperless means: no more printer problems or toner; no more copier problems or toner; and no more need for a fax machine (…or toner!).

  54. Utilize reusable shipping containers and pallets instead of disposable ones. If you eliminate 11 wooden pallets from your business you save 1 tree!

  55. The best thing we’ve done is replace paper coffee cups with mugs!

  56. Since “going green” means both saving on expenses and caring for the environment, going “paperless” will be one good contribution to any office environment. My opinion is that if we take the steps to take full advantage of computer applications by writing down information which we used to jot down on paper before, we could reap several favorable results like being able to save on paper and ink, save on the time and effort required to ruffle through a junk of paper files, being able to move much easier around an office that has less clutter and even avoid worrying about having to throw the trash away often.

  57. Hi there,

    As a blogger, one of the important aspects we focus on other than blogging is trying to keep the environment green. Our tip to be green is : To Enable remote access to applications to facilitate
    home and on-the-road working to cut commutes and Reduce the number of printers and Print on both sides by default.

    Thanks,
    Eddie

  58. On the outset, this Go Green concepts and ideas is a great exposure to learn various ways in which energy can be saved. My idea for a Green Green World

    - Avoid Printouts at meetings.
    - Invitations for any function can be made as an e-invite. It is more likely to reach quickly and saves on paper cost.
    - In companies that use Docking stations for Laptops, the power to it should be switched off before the end of Day. this will save a lot of power.
    - One sided waste printouts should be made as a notepads and distributed to employees for daily use.
    - Default print setup can be set to double sided prints.

  59. Something people often overlook is their lighting. Switching to energy saving bulbs saves a lot of money over the course of a year, and since they need replaced less it saves on bulbs and on maintenance. In a big office, that adds up fast!

  60. Best Green Business Tip Contest – http://shar.es/14NlB

  61. Best Green Business Tip Contest – http://shar.es/14Nl

  62. In companies that use Docking stations for Laptops, the power to it should be switched off before the end of Day. this will save a lot of power.

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