Top 10 Ways Your Business Can Go Green

Be bright about light

  • Institute a policy of turning off the lights when you're leaving any room for 15 minutes or more.
  • Install timers or motion sensors that automatically shut off lights when they're not needed.
  • Buy Energy Star-rated light bulbs and fixtures, which use at least two-thirds less energy than regular lights.

Clean-up your commutes

  • Organize a company carpool program and encourage employees to carpool, bike, walk or take transit to work., is a great place to start when organizing a carpool. CATS website can also be a helpful planning tool,
  • Institute occasional “Don’t Drive Days” where employees who register a clean commute are entered to win prizes like a free lunch or an extra vacation day.
  • Make it a policy to encourage telecommuting (a nice perk that's also good for the planet!) and make it easy for employees to take alternative modes of transportation by subsidizing transit passes or offering bike and carpool parking.

Create a healthy office environment

  • Purchase nontoxic cleaning products.
  • Brighten up your cubicle with plants, which absorb indoor pollution.
  • Make it a policy to buy furniture, carpeting and paint that are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and won't off-gas toxic chemicals.

Go paperless when possible

  • Post employee manuals and similar materials online, rather than distributing print copies. They're easier to update that way too!
  • Take steps to transition to a paperless office, where all communications are viewed on-screen rather than being printed out.
  • Purchase a fax modem to replace the traditional fax machine, so that all faxes can be sent via e-mail.
  • Request to be removed from mailing lists for unwanted catalogs, magazines, newsletters or other junk mail. Here are some sources for Junk Mail Opt Out.

Maximize computer efficiency

  • Make it a policy to turn off your computer—and the power strip it's plugged into—when you leave for the day. This can save an additional 50 percent of energy use.
  • During the day, setting your computer to go to sleep automatically during short breaks can cut energy use by 70 percent. Remember, screen savers don't save energy.
  • Turn off other equipment when it's not being used. This can reduce energy consumption by 25 percent.
  • Make it a policy to invest in energy-saving computers, monitors and printers.

Print smarter

  • Set printers to print on both sides of paper.
  • Make it a policy to print in draft or “fast” mode whenever possible to save on ink.
  • Recycle toner and ink cartridges and buy remanufactured ones.

Ramp up your recycling

  • Institute or take advantage of an existing recycling program for electronics, paper, cans, bottles, cell phones or cardboard. In many cases, electronics and cell phones can be donated and refurbished. However, if your electronics are no longer salvageable, make sure you recycle them through a company that is certified through either the R-2 or e-Stewards program.
  • Contact Mecklenburg County to get free interior recycling bins to help kick-start your program.
  • If there is a specific material you’re just not sure what to do with, check out the Recycling Center Locator to see if there are any local companies that can help.
  • Make it a policy to place recycling bins in accessible, high-traffic areas and provide clear information about what can and cannot be recycled.
  • Join the Mecklenburg County Wipe Out Waste Ambassador Program, a business recognition program for companies that are committed to building a strong community and fostering an environment of stewardship to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Rethink work travel

  • Invest in videoconferencing and other technological solutions that can reduce the amount of employee travel.
  • Promote the use of transit and/or make it a policy to rent hybrid or high-mpg vehicles during work-related travel.

Tap into water savings

  • Do not leave taps dripping. One drop wasted per second waste 10,000 liters per year!
  • Install displacement toilet dams in toilet reservoirs. Placing one or two plastic containers filled with stones (not bricks) in the toilet's reservoir will displace about 4 liters of water per flush - a huge reduction of water use over the course of a year.
  • Use native plants for landscaping and advanced irrigation systems.

Watch what (and how) you eat

  • Provide reusable dishes, silverware and glasses for your employees to use at work.
  • Switch to Fair Trade and organic coffee and tea.
  • Buy organic and local food for parties and other events.
  • Provide filtered drinking water to reduce bottled-water waste.