Being green helps improve your brand image, and is an increasingly important point to consider given that customers are more aware of their environmental footprint. As the world aligns with one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by the United Nations (UN) to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, there is now a more pronounced need to make a conscious effort to be green. In celebration of Earth Day, here are some simple tips and tricks on how SMEs can be friendly to both the environment and their profit margins.

Set printer rules

One sub-goal set by the UN is to substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse by 2030. Your firm can contribute to this by setting some ground rules on the day to day operations such as printer usage.

To prevent the wastage of paper, the default printer mode can be set to print on both sides of the paper as opposed to one. To encourage a reduction in paper usage, a monthly limit on the number of pages to be printed can be determined based on departmental needs. In a bid to spur reuse, scrap paper can be left beside the printer for easier access. Recycling can also be further encouraged by placing the recycling bins for printing paper, newspapers, unwanted brochures, or ink cartridges prominently in common areas, such as the shredder. Weekly or monthly e-mail reminders to fellow staff about the importance of being green can also be sent out.

Bathe in natural lighting

As much as possible, try to fully utilise daytime’s natural lighting. This can be done by lifting up the blinds according to the natural lighting available and supplementing it with indoor artificial lighting. Not only will your electricity bill be lowered, but the view also acts as an added bonus to inject some vibrancy to the cubicle space.

Another almost zero-cost way to use lesser electricity will be to clean your lights. Yes, it is as simple as that! This is because dust settling on the lights can reduce its brightness and life expectancy over time. You can also opt to put up dimmers and even motion sensors to ensure that electricity is not consumed when not in use. Upgrading the lighting to energy-efficient ones such as fluorescent or LED lights are also ways to reduce electricity usage over time.

Purchase energy efficient office supplies

Many companies buy new stationery such as pens, highlighters and pencils without stocking up on refills. This creates unnecessary wastage. In addition, notebooks and disposable cups made from recycled materials should also be used as much as possible.

In the washroom, hand dryers can be installed as opposed to paper towel dispensers. This is because the production of paper towels is energy intensive. While the actual energy consumed depends on a variety of factors, hand dryers are the favoured choice 95% of the time.

Use non-disposables

Common disposable items in the office pantry include plastic stirrers, straws, paper cups, spoons and forks. Using a common, long-lasting item instead produces less waste. In fact, posters can be placed in the pantry and in other common areas to remind colleagues about the importance of energy conservation.

Set rules for electronics over the weekend

Energy consumption reduction should not be limited to office hours. It is a good habit to unplug all computers, photocopiers, printers, coffee makers, and other electronic equipment after office hours and especially over the weekend. The energy savings translate into cash savings that add up. If you need more SME funding or working capital for projects on top of cost-cutting measures, try securing business loans via P2P lending, a business financing method based on crowdfunding.

Relook at air conditioning

Having a comfortable working environment is important. However, this does not mean that energy wastage is tolerable. Replacing the filters and going for regular maintenance can ensure that the air conditioner functions well so that energy is efficiently used.

Gain inspiration from others

Monitoring the news for ideas on how companies are contributing to being green can help inspire you. Perhaps knowing that Singaporeans are sharing umbrellas to save the environment can inspire your firm to have a common pool of umbrellas for sharing. Opportunities to participate in green initiatives as a company are also aplenty. For instance, you can explore taking part in H&M’s World Recycle Week by donating unwanted garment for recycling purposes, or volunteer with Clean and Green Singapore.

Add an e-mail signature

One simple way to spread the green message is by inputting a line in your e-mail signature to remind recipients to think twice before printing the e-mail. This way, you are disseminating the need for energy conservation beyond your own organisation. In addition, HR can also consider sending out e-mails to employees on 22nd April to encourage colleagues to pay special attention to our environment on Earth Day.

All the low-cost tips suggested above are small steps that your company can take to contribute towards a greener environment for everyone while reducing expenses.

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