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Making Your Business Greener

Going green starts by making small choices about your business operation. Little changes can have a big payoff in terms of protecting the environment. Following is a list of things that almost all businesses can do to operate in a more environmentally sustainable way:

1. Lower your electric bill by putting storefront window display lights on timers instead of leaving lights on all night long.

2. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs.

3. Reduce the amount of packaging used for customers’ purchases.

4. Skip the bag by giving customer a choice by asking if they want a bag or offer small discount for customers who bring and use their own bags.

5. Recycle the boxes and packing material in which product is shipped to your business.

6. Offer in-store recycling for products you sell.

7. Offer in-store workshops on green lifestyle related to your business. For example, a clothing store might offer a workshop on making messenger bags out of discarded clothing.

8. Retrofit with a programmable thermostat to save energy when business is closed.

9. Buy locally for as much as possible of your merchandise, services, and supplies.

10. Install LED EXIT signs.

11. Install motion sensors to activate interior lights, display case lights, and exterior security lights.

12. Conserve water by replacing toilets with new high-efficiency toilets.

13. Provide incentives to employees who commute to work by public transportation, carpooling, biking or walking. Get creative – provide preferred parking for carpoolers, offer transit passes, offer flextime, etc. Provide showers and lockers for employees who bike, run, or walk to work, and bike racks or other secure storage for cyclists.

14. Provide bikes for employees to run errands on or go to lunch.

15. Use recycled paper and make double-sided copies to conserve paper.

16. Recycle toner and inkjet cartridges from computer printers, fax machines, copies, and cash registers.

17. Unplug electronic devices by using power strips with on-off switches and turn the entire power strip off when the devices plugged into it aren’t being used.

18. Use Energy Star-rated equipment and appliances.

19. Detox your business by using non-toxic cleaning supplies.

20. Donate unused, nonreturnable items to local nonprofit organizations rather than throwing away.

21. Switch to hybrid, electric, or other fuel-efficient vehicles.

22. Go paperless by using electronic media – email, Facebook, Internet – instead of printed flyers or letters to reach your customers and advertise.

23. Go low, as in using low-Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paints, coatings, adhesives, and sealants.

24. Lead by example by selling products made from recycled and/or re-sourced materials.

25. Get an energy audit from Southern California Edison.

26. Buy green by finding suppliers offering sustainable products.

27. Join a green business network to find more ideas.

28. Empower your employees to find new ways of making your business greener.

29. Create a written sustainability policy or plan for your business and communicate it to your customers and suppliers.

30. Analyze your specific business type for more sustainable practices. Grocery stores, for example, might switch to more energy-efficient refrigerators and freezers; restaurants could buy local produce.