What does it mean to be eco-friendly? Actually, the term “eco-friendly” is just another way of saying “earth-friendly”. An eco-friendly business promotes practices and products that do not harm the environment. An eco-friendly entrepreneur makes sure that her company is responsible for waste management and prudent in energy and water conservation, wherever possible.
To be eco-friendly is to think about sustainability. Sustainability in business is the potential of company practices to have long-term social, environmental, and financial benefits. Eco-friendly businesses care about sustainability and look at the bigger picture by managing resources and reducing pollution. In other words, they are focused on the prosperity of both present and future generations.
Benefits Of Running An Eco-Friendly Business
So what are the benefits of heeding the eco-friendly call as an entrepreneur? Here are three of the major ones:
Without digging into the details just yet, let it be known that making eco-friendly decisions can do wonders for your bottom line. Just by switching to more energy-efficient waste management or installing eco-conscious lighting systems, you could save thousands in yearly costs. While taking into account the one-time investments one must make, this energy efficiency will be yielding financial returns for a long time.
Sometimes, it is easy to forget that even as human beings, we are a part of nature. We’ve spent thousands of years hunting food and cutting down trees to build our homes and offices. We might assume that human activity has little impact on the environment.
However, scientists all over the world are constantly finding proof that this is not true. In fact, climate change is a result of reckless human activity. In recent years we have observed more droughts in northern Nigeria, rising sea levels in the south, and increased air pollution. With information available on the Internet and on social media, these issues are slowly becoming common knowledge. Adapting our business to become more environmentally friendly would be useful and responsible.
Eco-friendly Companies Stand Out
So far, we have said that becoming eco-friendly will reduce pollution and save money. But did you know that revamping your business in this manner could also boost your brand’s reputation? As information becomes more accessible, especially in larger cities, people are coming to value eco-consciousness from the companies they know.
As an entrepreneur, exhibiting environmentally friendly ideals gives you a marketing edge over the competition. In time, your brand will stand out amongst others and be more memorable.
7 Cost-Effective Ways To Run An Eco-Friendly Business
Running your business in an eco-friendly manner is actually less intimidating than it might seem. The following list breaks down 7 cost-effective steps you can take to make your business more eco-friendly.
Get Some Recycling Bins
Did you know that the Olusosun landfill in Lagos receives an alarming 10,000 tons of mostly recyclable waste every day? This landfill happens to be the largest in Africa and one of the largest in the world. It is also a hotspot for air pollution and disease. By installing recycling bins, an eco-friendly business would be reducing the amount of waste that goes into these landfills.
Recycling bins are containers that hold recyclable materials before they are taken to the recycling plants. There are recycling bins for paper, glass, metal cans, cardboard, and carton. You might consider installing a few of these bins in the office area. The waste in these bins can be sold to plants, which then recycle the material into brand new products.
Instead of printing every single report, flyer, notice, and memo, you could skip the paper whenever you can. When conducting company business, request electronic bills and bank statements where practical. It might also be a great option for your company to send invoices to clients through electronic methods like email. A 500-sheet pack of A4 paper costs between ₦2,500 and ₦3,000. By going paper-free, you save tens of thousands of Naira and help reduce waste going into the environment.
If you choose to print something, using both sides of a sheet of paper would go a long way. Also, as previously discussed, instead of just launching paper scraps into public dustbins, by recycling, you reduce waste output. And maybe make some extra money.
Further in the paper vein, your company could explore the option of post-consumer waste (PWC) products such as serviettes and tissue paper. Bel Papyrus Limited is a Nigerian company that specialises in recycling waste paper into products like paper napkins, towels, and tissue paper. PWC products create half the waste and save up to 68% of the energy used to produce traditional paper products.
Power Your Office With Alternative Energy
Nigerian businesses spend about ₦14 billion on generators every year, according to the Rural Electrification Agency. Interestingly, the International Renewable Energy Agency states that the cost of using solar energy, a renewable source of energy, is quickly falling.
In fact, large-scale solar energy generation has become cheaper than using fossil fuels like petrol and diesel we use in our generators. Beyond the initial cost of installing solar panels, imagine the amount of money saved after only one year with them.
In addition to the savings, you also cut down on carbon dioxide released from our generators, which pollute the air and contribute to global warming, endangering us all. By relying partially or fully on solar and other renewable forms of energy, we protect our environment, reduce costs, and practice sustainability.
Once in computer village, I actually spotted a woman charging her cell phone using a little solar panel. We can all start small!
Switch To More Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
An LED bulb or lamp (available in Nigerian supermarkets and online stores) produces light using light-emitting diodes (LED). This bulb has an average power rating of only 3 watts. A typical bulb, on the other hand, has a rating of 50 watts. Already, we can guess which is more energy-efficient. LED bulbs can be used for up to 50,000 hours while other bulbs only last between 1000 to 2000 hours. So, they have to be replaced four or five times a year.
The great news is that while a typical incandescent light bulb costs between ₦300 and ₦400, you can get an LED light bulb at ₦700. This means that with only ₦300 extra, you are able to light your offices using LED bulbs about 50 times longer.
In an office with five rooms, each room using four bulbs, one would be spending at least ₦200,000 on incandescent bulbs over five years. Using LED bulbs, however, could mean spending less than ₦14,000 over five years while also cutting energy consumption by nearly 50%. Try out this step and marvel at the energy-efficient savings.
Run A Virtual Office
This eco-friendly step is likely already familiar to many given the Covid-19 pandemic. If you haven’t already considered remote work, it’s a good way to keep your employees safe and also benefit the environment.
Your employees are entering public transport, climbing okada, or driving to and from work every morning. They spend time and energy sitting in traffic (hours and hours of traffic based in Lagos) and in doing so, their transport releases fumes that pollute the environment and our lungs.
Working remotely won’t be practical for every business, all or even some of the time. However, if it is possible to let your employees work from home a few days a week, there are notable benefits.
First, you are personally helping to reduce air pollution, however little. Next, you might observe a hike in the energy levels of your staff, who are now able to avoid traffic and work during hours they are most productive. Finally, you save money on travel reimbursement, office space, and work equipment for employees.
Donate Or Sell – But Do Not Discard
Once it is time to get rid of pieces of furniture or out-dated electronics, consider reuse instead. If it is, in fact, impossible to reuse that peeling office chair or scratched desk in another part of the office, you might consider donating them to underprivileged communities.
Also, you can break apart old furniture into parts that can easily be reused or recycled elsewhere. Finally, instead of donating the items, a business-owner could organise an official bid, where employees can buy the items at a cheap price if they wish.
This could save money and build morale while also limiting the amount of waste going into the environment. Finally, consider repurposed or recycled office furniture. These look new but, are only a fraction of the normal cost.
As you run your eco-friendly company, it is important to use your reach as an entrepreneur to educate the people around you. This can be done by promoting an environmentally friendly culture through virtual conferences and training. Modifying your email signature is another great way to remind others to save paper by printing only essential emails.
One might also choose to acknowledge Earth Day (22 April 2021) in an office email, encouraging your employees to make more energy-conscious decisions or use water more wisely.
In this article, we’ve discussed 7 simple ways to run your eco-friendly business. Every step you take as an entrepreneur, no matter how small, benefits the environment and saves you money.
As you begin to take these steps to stand out and manage your environmental impact, Entrepreneurs.ng can help to increase your visibility and influence in the business world. Get in touch with us to put your business on the map.
How are you going to use these tips to become more eco-friendly? Let us know in the comments.