10 Ideas to Make Your Business Greener

1—Recycling Bin: It’s easier to recycle when you know where it goes. There are great recycling bins that separate your paper, glass and aluminum cans making it easier for your employees to recycle.

2—Lights: Change out those old energy-sucking bulbs with LED or fluorescent lights, which are about five times more efficient than their incandescent cousins.

3—Motion-Sensor Light Switch: In addition to switching out those bulbs, install a motion-sensor light switch to turn your lights off and on in places that frequently don’t have anyone in them, like bathrooms and break rooms.

4—Programmable Thermostat: Oh, darn! I forgot to reset the thermostat. Setting a thermostat to automatically cool or heat your office at certain times can help save you way more money than the cost of that thermostat.

5—Green Your Purchases: More than 60 percent of the waste produced in the United States comes from manufacturers. According to OnEarth.org, “consumer goods, their use, and their packaging are responsible, over their life cycles, for 44 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.” Buy in bulk or choose from many manufacturers who have reduced their packaging.

6—Maintain Your Fleet: Keeping your trucks in good, working order will help reduce emissions. Make sure to recycle your any automotive fluids.

7—Avoid Disposable Products: Instead of stocking the break room with disposable products such as paper plates, plastic utensils, styrofoam cups, paper napkins, etc., use items that can be washed and reused.

8—Turn It Off: Make sure that computers, fax machines and printers are turned off when people leave or in power save mode.

9—Buy Energy Efficient: Make sure the appliances and products you buy are the most energy efficient.

10—Recycle Your Waste: When it comes to recycling, think outside of the box. Does your company produce or take in anything that could be put to use somewhere else?

Here are some companies that turned their trash into treasure (originally reported by Fast Company) and reduced their costs by recycling:

• General Mills stopped paying to have the oat hulls used to make Cheerios hauled off and realized it could be burned as fuel. Now they sell it for a profit.

• Coors annually produces three million gallons of ethanol by distilling waste beer and sells it to Valero Energy to be sold at gas stations in Colorado.

• Texas Instruments could hardly give away their scrap silicon wafers a few years ago. Those same scraps work great for solar cells. Now, Texas Instruments sells about 1 million scrap wafers for $8 million.

• Computers generate a lot of heat and server rooms can get awfully hot. Intel decided to use the water that chills the rooms by absorbing heat. It is now recycled to warm the building in the winter and heat the showers in the gym.

• JPMorgan Chase built a rainwater collection pan on top of their 53-story building in Manhattan. The water goes into a 55,000 gallon tank, which is filtered and then distributed for toilet flushing helping them cut water usage (when paired with low-flush toilets) by 30 percent.

• The University of New Hampshire gets 80 to 85 percent of its power from a landfill.

• Target recycles or refurbishes its broken shopping carts, broken plastic hangars, shrink wrap, and rechargeable batteries.

Story by Jennifer Taylor