"Going green" is not just a phrase being thrown around by various industries. As South African consumers (and potential international customers) become more environmentally aware, it makes good business sense to take your company into the era of environmental consciousness. Depending on what kind of operation you have, this may even be a matter of legislation.
You may be worrying about what "going green" is going to cost you, so here are some tips to help you make minor changes with major benefits for the environment and your pocket.
Reduce, re-use and recycle
- Paper: Encourage your staff to think about whether it's really necessary to print out certain e-mails and documents, or implement a double-sided printing policy. Various paper companies provide recycling bins for offices or sites, and fetch the paper free of charge. Not only will you have a smaller paper bill every month, but your printers may thank you too.
- Computer-related waste: Refilling computer ink cartridges are cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Old electronic and electrical equipment (referred to as -e-waste) thrown out with our other rubbish is making our landfills more toxic. When you can't donate old equipment to a worthy cause, contact eWASA - the e-waste association of South Africa - to find a collection site near you. Their website is also listed in our Resources section.
- Save electricity: It's no secret that our power supplies are under tremendous strain, so use electricity wisely. Use energy-efficient light-bulbs and remember to throw the old globes into recycle bins that can be found in most major shopping malls. Encourage office workers to switch off computers/appliances at the power source at end of the day, use air-conditioners sparingly and don't leave your building's lights on all night. Rather use motion sensor lights outside your property if you're worried about security.
- Cleaner air, less petrol: Get your driver/s to do deliveries or errands only once a day, or when they have a full load (if possible). Ask employees to use lift clubs to come to work, and if you're really good, you'll allow them flexi hours to do so.
- Be water-wise: Clean water is often taken for granted and we need to realise that it's a privilege we are very lucky to have. Motivate your staff to be conscious of how much water they use, and to save where they can.
Encourage your employees to implement these steps at home, which will go a long way to preserving the natural environment for our children to experience.
What else can I do?
- Ask your employees to contribute some ideas, encourage some in-house competition and reward staff-members for contributing to cleaning up the premises and the environment
- Provide bins into which different types of waste can be thrown (e.g. glass, plastic or cans), to be dropped off at recycling depots or drop-off sites at the end of the week
- Contact your local collection agencies to make your business a drop-off site by placing a collection bin on your premises
- Challenge other small businesses in your area and your local community to get involved by using recycling stations and drop-off points
Other materials that can be recycled include cardboard boxes (flattened) glass, plastic, aluminium cans, other metals, construction-related waste, ink cartridges and compostable garden refuse.
If you are interested in recycling waste in one of these areas, go to the Resources section of this category or in the Quicklinks menu on our home page for links to various websites that can help your company be more eco-friendly. There are also various non-government and local government organisations who will gladly help you commit to a recycling programme.
If you were worried that cleaning up your environment may end up costing your business money, hopefully you'll see that these simple tips can not only help you save the environment, but actually end up saving on costs as well.
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