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Smart Ways for Businesses to Go Green

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Post Smart Ways for Businesses to Go Green   Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:53 am

"Going Green" is a hot topic and growing trend that has everyone talking. In a nationwide survey by Tiller, LLC, - a NY-based advocacy marketing firm - 53% of Americans believe that it is individuals who are positioned to have the most positive impact on the environment versus communities at 22%, businesses at 17%, and the government at 8%. The truth is, it can be difficult for individuals to go green and even more difficult for businesses to become environmentally friendly. Believe it or not, there are less than prudent ways of going green. Many businesses make some common mistakes when trying to become environmentally friendly; instead of moving forward in the right direction, they end up taking two steps back. To be the "right kind of green", asking a few simple questions before changing familiar business practices could save time, money, and energy. Decision makers must do their due-diligence first to make sure the proposed changes are in fact beneficial to the company as well as the environment. The rest of the article will address the smart ways for businesses to go green, or at the very least change some wasteful habits.

One of the most common ways for businesses to become environmentally friendly is to use remanufactured or recycled ink cartridges for copiers, printers, and fax machines. However, there is a bit of controversy around this subject. It's not surprising that Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) are publically negating the benefits of using remanufactured ink cartridges. "Printer vendors have definitely ratcheted up the stakes and are becoming more aggressive as the cartridge-replacement industry approaches $3 billion in worldwide annual sales," says Patricia Judge, Executive Director of the IITC. Remanufactured ink cartridges cost anywhere from 15% to 50% less than OEM cartridges, which has an immediate affect on a company's budget. Recycled ink cartridges are also beneficial to the environment because the empty cartridges are refilled, repaired, and resold, which averts tons of industrial-grade plastic and metal from ending up in landfills. According to Tangerine Office Systems, additional benefits include natural resource conservation and energy conservation because fewer new cartridges are consumed and ultimately produced.

Now the question is which remanufactured ink cartridge distributor to use, if any at all. This is where decision makers need to do their due diligence. If a poorly remanufactured ink cartridge is purchased and used, it could cause print quality issues resulting in increased paper usage or printer failure resulting in unexpected maintenance. It is worth the time to research remanufactured ink cartridge distributors and pick a handful that properly refill and repair the cartridges, have a reputation for providing high quality products, and offer a warranty or money back guarantee. Then, test several different remanufactured ink cartridges and conduct quality control checks while using them, ask the employees their opinion, and then determine if this should be a new business practice.

Another common, environmentally friendly change to make is to use recycled paper. Again, while testing several different brands, conduct quality control checks. In addition, ask the following questions: does the recycled paper have the same print quality as traditional paper, does it cause more paper jams, and is the recycled paper cost-effective and easily obtainable? If the print quality is so-so and employees are constantly reprinting documents, recycled paper may not be a best practice for the business. If an employee has to drive out of their way to purchase it or a special delivery has to be made, it may not be green after is all said and done.

Similar questions should be asked if switching to recycled paper towels and toilet paper. If more is needed to get the same job done that traditional products can do using less, then switching may not be beneficial. If a special order needs to be made, does the all-encompassing cost of shipping outweigh the benefits?

Another easy and environmentally friendly change to make is to eliminate the use of Styrofoam and plastic cups in the office. Purchase ceramic mugs and give them to employees to use instead or leave it up to the employees to supply their own cups and mugs.

Businesses can also change the printer settings to print double-sided and in black and white. If single page or color copies are needed, employees can temporarily change the settings. Along the same lines, instruct all employees to print only what is absolutely necessary. Storing files electronically can substantially reduce paper and toner consumption.

Provide a paper shredder or shedding service. Depending on the size and location of the business, it may be more beneficial to have an on-site receptacle versus a regularly scheduled pick-up. Be sure to choose a shredding company that properly disposes of the paper waste.

Require all employees to shut down electronic equipment (computers, laptops, copiers, printers, and fax machines) and shut off all the lights at night and on weekends, unless there are special circumstances, e.g. maintenance, updates.

Regardless of what new business practices are implemented with the intent of going green and becoming environmentally friendly, businesses must do their due diligence and be cognizant of the ripple effect caused when particular business practice changes are made.
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