As we continue to recover from the pandemic, small business owners that transitioned to e-commerce and home offices may have found that working from home cuts operational costs. A study from Pew Research in December 2020 noted that 90 percent of people who have worked from home would like to continue doing so, even after the pandemic. Yet with the new normal of home offices, it is imperative to consider the environmental effects of working from home. Chances are that most small business owners with a strong focus on sustainability and social impact also follow green practices at home.
Here are four ideas your small business can use to get started on making your home office sustainable.
Using chlorine-free, post-consumer paper—which is made from recycled paper—prevents environmental harms and the consumption of virgin materials. Find FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) is the best way to ensure your paper is sustainable. Additionally, establishing practices such as setting printers to print double-sided and avoiding printing when possible can help reduce the amount of paper your office uses.
Your company’s energy supply should align with your company’s environmental commitments and that includes your home office. If you cannot access on-site renewable energy, purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) can offset fossil fuel-based energy locally. This achieves two things at once as well, because not only are you making your company’s energy use clean, but your home energy will also support a market for renewable energy.
3. Cooling Systems
Managing home efficiency is crucial when your company operates from your house, but it can also save you money, too. Checking for drafts and leaks around windows and doors can help maintain a constant room temperature, giving your cooling system a break. Additionally, properly maintaining your HVAC system will lower your utility bills, improve air quality, and preventing the leak of harmful hydrofluorocarbons—a potent greenhouse gas—totaling an overall net benefit.
Efficient waste management systems, including the reduction of waste in the first place, are important for both corporate and home offices. Recycling materials such as paper, plastic, and glass are a small part of a larger waste management plan. Food waste contributes to methane emissions, so it's important to set up your own composting system or sign up for a composting service. Additionally, recycling electronics through a certified e-steward ensures your old household electronics are responsibly recycled.
Making your company greener includes many other things besides your home office. Learn where you’re at by running a sustainability audit for your business and learn about environmental and social responsibility standards for your industry.