According to a new Office Depot survey, "green" has gone mainstream in the small business community. Half of all respondents are interested in making their offices "greener," according to a survey of 2,500 business professionals commissioned by Office Depot, a leading global provider of office products and services. The survey also found that cost and understanding are the two primary factors preventing businesses from going greener at the office.
"It is encouraging to see such strong interest in going green among small businesses," said Yalmaz Siddiqui, Director of Environmental Strategy for Office Depot. "The good news is that creating a greener office is simpler than ever. Not only are there more high-quality, low-cost greener products available than ever before, but the range of solutions to help reduce waste and energy has also grown significantly."
Although more than half (55 percent) of the survey respondents stated they do not associate going "green" with saving money, this is a common misperception Siddiqui said. "There is actually a range of cost scenarios that a business could face when deciding to go green," he explained. "Some choices, like remanufactured cartridges, cost less; some require an upfront investment but come with long term cost savings, like compact fluorescent lights; some products entail no price difference; and some green ideas do cost more. The trick is to understand the different options and not assume that going green will always result in higher costs."
To help business professionals understand how simple and cost effective it can be to go green, Office Depot has created Small Steps to Your Greener Office: Saving Money while Taking Care of Your Business and the Planet. Available at www.officedepot.com/greenyouroffice, the free online guide outlines a simple way to think about going green, and helps any workplace – be it a home office, a small business, or a larger company – become more efficient and less wasteful.
To get started, Siddiqui suggests four key steps:
1) Ask Why Green? Each organization has a different environmental impact, as well as its own business priorities and practices. The key is to decide what to focus on. If the desire is to save money, then choosing green ideas that deliver cost savings should be prioritized. If the organization is concerned about climate change or toxic chemicals, then the focus should be on those actions that reduce fuel and electricity and non-toxic alternatives to current product choices. And if the focus is on simply saving money, businesses should rethink the products they are buying and habits they are practicing. The important thing is to step back and think before embarking on a greening program.
2) Buy Green. Once a business is clear on its priorities, deciding how to allocate dollars to greener product choices is the next question. Within the office environment, historically "going green" meant just buying recycled paper. Today, greener choices go far beyond recycled paper and include items with a range of green benefits, such as:
Reduced waste and pressure on resources, including remanufactured cartridges, rechargeable batteries, pen refills and recycled products;
Reduced energy and greenhouse gases, including Energy Star qualified electronics and lights, and items powered by renewable energy; and
Reduced harsh chemicals, including Greenguard-certified furniture, non-toxic writing instruments, supplies and cleaners, and bio-based or biodegradable packaging and dishware.
Office Depot offers more than 5,000 products featuring environmentally preferable attributes, all available online at www.officedepot.com/buygreen. Additionally, to make buying green even simpler Office Depot recently introduced a new brand of green office products named Office Depot Green.
3) Be Green. Being green is about changing your everyday practices – whether they be at work or at home. Simple changes in habit such as printing less paper and defaulting double-sided printing can both reduce waste in an office and save money. To help reduce waste even further, replace disposables with reusable coffee mugs and water bottles. Another step organizations can take is to implement a recycling program (i.e. recycling paper, ink and toner cartridges and technology). For businesses interested in saving energy, money and greenhouse gases, an effective step is to install power strips with switches and encourage employees to turn technology off when not in use.
4) Sell Green. New green thinking is all about encouraging small steps in a greener direction without using guilt or demanding sacrifice. By "selling" the idea that employees can personally benefit or feel good by participating in greener office program - they are more likely to join than resist. Start communicating green by developing an "identity" for your greener office effort. Using posters or other daily reminders can help reinforce your organizations commitment to go green.
For additional tips and advice from the Small Steps to a Greener Office guide, go to www.officedepot.com/greenyouroffice.