Perhaps you have already given up on some, or all, of your New Year’s resolutions. But regardless of what month it is, every day is another opportunity to make better decisions, especially those that result in greener and smarter choices for your health and the environment. Ecopreneurs lead green technology innovation and utilization in the workplace because they are aware of the positive impacts on the environment.
Many of the trends in green workspaces are not just beneficial for the environment, but save money and improve employee health. Ecopreneurs are not only interested in building companies and collecting profit, they also work to secure a more sustainable future and greener economy. They think outside the box and are leaders in their field.
Luckily, living green and choosing alternative energy has never been easier. Some of these tips are simple and obvious things, but are sometimes the most overlooked and hardest to change. So, in the spirit of new beginnings, here is a list of 10 ways ecopreneurs can recommit to sustainability in 2015.
1. Have a plan: Ecopreneurs have a plan and understand the value of planning a “green” management strategy. Many business owners and managers don’t even realize their potential ecological impact until they sit down and plan.
2. Green commute: Perhaps the first trend in the green movement, alternatives to traditional commuting can greatly reduce carbon emissions and improve overall health. If you live close enough choose to walk, ride a bike or maybe trade in the gas-guzzler for a hybrid. If you live in an area with sufficient public transportation, consider offering subsidized transit passes for your employees.
3. Invest in renewable energy: Small and important steps to a more sustainable future start with energy. The rapid adoption rate of alternative energy doesn’t show any signs of slowing. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, an estimated 36 percent of all new electric energy in 2014 came from solar power alone. Companies like Vivint Solar offer customized solar plans at affordable prices for lease, offering big savings on energy expenses. As these providers continue expansion, green energy won’t be just for the wealthy, it will be for everyone.
4. Go paperless: With tablets, email and smart phones, going paperless can be easy. Reduce.org reports that the average American worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year. The easiest way to go paperless is to set a deadline and stick to it. According to Waste Management, recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, which is equivalent to 7,000 gallons of water or nine barrels of oil.
5. Use natural lighting: Open the blinds and let in the light. Supplementing office lighting with natural light not only cuts down on energy costs, but also has productivity benefits. Northwestern University conducted a study on natural light in the workplace and found that those who were exposed to more natural light were considerably more productive. In the study, workers who received 173 percent more natural light during work hours slept 46 minutes more per night.
6. Turn it off: One of the simplest ways to cut energy costs is to turn off what you are not using. Use timers on network servers that can monitor computers. Numerous apps like Shutoff can be set to turn off computers at a certain time. Turn off unnecessary display lights and even your wireless mouse at night.
7. Limit meetings: Perhaps one of the most time-consuming and unnecessary parts of the day, meetings are not helping green energy efforts either. Holding meetings remotely can save time and resources while cutting down on travel. In many industries, telecommuting is a great option and an idea that employers are warming up to. Global Workplace Analytics reports that telecommuting grew over 80 percent from 2005 to 2013.
8. Recycle and Freecycle: Waste is an output of most business operations, but choosing to recycle can help minimize a company’s environmental footprint. Recycling ink cartridges, paper, boxes, and aluminum is easy and benefits everyone—some recycling programs will even offer a discount on future purchases. Freecycling, available in most parts of the country, is a network that allows businesses and individuals to trade useful items instead of throwing them in the trash.
9. Innovate: Ecopreneurs are problem solvers and strategic innovators. The world is far from reaching full green potential and it’s going to take ecopreneurs to lead green innovation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly 75 percent of all businesses utilize at least one green energy technology or practice. There is a definitive market that will only continue to grow as companies look for solutions to inefficient and outdated practices.
10. Think green: No matter if you are a business owner or an employee, if you are new to green living or a veteran, thinking green means looking for ways to limit your environmental impact in everything you do. Thinking green isn’t just about following others’ ideas, but being a green pioneer. Improve business operations, boost employee health, and secure a sustainable future for everybody.
[About the author: Bryan Phelps is a solar energy analyst at Vivint Solar. Image: Philippe Put]