Are you looking for ways to reduce your environmental footprint? Virtual offices are one way, but there are lots of others. Even if you work from a home office, you can take measured, eco-friendly steps.

Grand & Toy, a company that offers sustainable business solutions for all office needs of small and medium-sized businesses, is offering 10 Earth Day tips that can help you get greener than ever before.

"Today, most business leaders would agree that sustainability is an imperative for organizations of all sizes," says Natasha Renaud, director of Communications and Social Responsibility at Grand & Toy. "It is important for small businesses to know they can take simple steps that are cost-efficient and effective to becoming more earth-friendly."

So without further ado, here are excerpts from Grand & Toy’s tips (with a few comments of my own mixed in for good measure):

  1. If it's not essential for your business to operate from a traditional "office," get rid of it. Working remotely, from your home, from your client's office or from an unassigned workstation in a local business center reduces not only the number of cars on the road and greenhouse gas emissions, but also office overhead and gasoline expenses. (A virtual office comes to mind here.)

  2. Take advantage of natural light during daytime work hours. With this tip, you not only go greener, you also save green by reducing your energy expenses. When you do need artificial light, use fluorescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs. They last longer, use less energy and cost less in the long term.

  3. Choose sustainable interiors. Ensure the furniture you buy is certified by at least one of the credible environmental certification programs. Choose earth-friendly materials. For example, furniture partially made from soy-based foam consumes less energy and emits fewer greenhouse gas emissions during manufacturing than furniture that is petroleum-based.

  4. Consolidate your ordering practices to once a month. This is a winning idea from several angles. First, order consolidation helps reduce the number of trucks on the road, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution associated with transportation. Less packaging required to ship product also means less potential waste. What’s more, consolidation leads to fewer invoices to be reconciled and easier payments, freeing up more time to focus on your business.

  5. Request electronic catalogues and electronic invoicing from your suppliers. Holding your suppliers environmentally accountable will decrease the amount of paper they are using and encourage them to start thinking about their own environmental practices. Similarly, arrange for electronic payment of all your purchases through a credit or debit card, PayPal or other electronic system.

  6. Use sustainable cleaning products. Quality microfiber cloths, for example, not only pick up dust, surface residues, microscopic particles, grease and oil, but can also significantly reduce and, in some cases, completely eliminate the cleaning chemicals required for certain jobs. They may cost a bit more, but they are healthier for you.

  7. Equip your office washroom with touch-less towel dispensers or air dryers. This will help you further reduce your business' paper consumption. This won’t help if you work from a home office. In that case, you can use hand towels instead of paper towels.

  8. Implement a full-scale recycling and compost program. By composting leftover food and recycling paper, cardboard, glass and aluminum cans, using specially marked bins, you'll make sure your office waste is diverted from landfills and used to produce new products, such as white printer paper, paper towels, aluminum cans and glass bottles. This is something that’s especially convenient to do from a home office.

  9. Recycle your used ink and toner cartridges, too. Instead of throwing them away, send them to the companies collecting empty ink and toner cartridges for recycling.  This will help conserve energy and virgin materials. Depending on the program, you can get money back for every returned cartridge.

  10. Print double-sided and use environmentally certified paper. Switching to a 50 percent post-consumer recycled content paper will save 120 trees for every 10 skids of paper, according to the Environmental Defense Organization, and the energy saved is enough to power a house for a year. In addition, double-sided printing, on average, leads to a 30 per cent reduction of paper usage that will increase if a secure pass code printing system is implemented as well.


Check out this YouTube video for some more tips: