Sustainability now goes hand in hand with profit. Across Canada, employers of all sizes are competing for environmental leadership. Smart resource use not only helps you reduce costs and get access to special funding, but also makes for great marketing, as the public becomes increasingly informed and keen to support environmentally friendly businesses.
By 2013, “nearly half of all consumers stated that they [were] inclined to buy environmentally friendly products.” Four in 10 claimed they would be willing to pay a little more for those products. By appealing to this growing market you can use your green credentials to distinguish yourself from competitors. Here are some easy steps you can take to green up your business this year:
Consider sourcing some element of your business — whether it’s a raw ingredient or a product made by another local business — from the surrounding community. In addition to meeting growing consumer demand, local sourcing cuts down on fossil fuel use (and shipping costs). Plus, many consumers appreciate knowing how your product or service fits into a sustainably green approach; consider posting a list of local producers you work with on your menu, around your store, or online.
Upcycle and reuse.
With a variety of online marketplaces now selling quality used and reclaimed furniture, there’s no need to by anything off the factory line anymore. Buying recycled furniture helps the environment, saves you money, and spices up your storefront design with something a little more unique. Contemplating a business makeover? You can also donate a variety of used supplies — including technology and e-waste — to companies that help their communities, such as Free Geek Toronto.
Conserve natural resources.
While LED light bulbs may be more expensive up front, they save loads of energy and money in the long run. LED bulbs can use up to 30 percent less energy than incandescent light bulbs and last 25 times longer. In fact, some LEDs can last 20 years or more. Switching out 100 bulbs that are typically turned on for eight hours a day could save you more than $1,000 a year.
Fix those leaky taps. Install low-flush toilets. Don’t pre-rinse your dishes. Opt for drought-resistant plants. There are just about as many ways to cut back on water use at your office as there are at home. By using water- and energy-efficient appliances, you can save on utility bills and other expenses as well.
Consider installing energy-efficient appliances. Things like refrigerators, air conditioners, heat-pump water heaters, and certain commercial ovens can help you save big time.
Tap into funding.
Wondering how to manage the up-front costs of the changes above? There are sizable grants available to businesses of all sizes that make efforts to go green. The specifics vary from province to province. To see what sort of incentives apply to your business, check out these programs for everything from sustainable agriculture practices to energy efficiency. There are even more resources for greening your business on the Canada Business Network.