Big Ideas For Small Business Sustainability for America Recycles Day and Beyond

Did you know that we purchase about 18 billion tons of paper in the US? And that most of that is for use in small businesses? November 15th is America Recycles Day — check out this website to get ideas to help you, including how to host a recycling event, how to register the event and how to promote the event.

The good news is it’s never too late to start a recycling program at your business. Even better news is that there is no such thing as being too small to have a recycling program.

Getting started: the first thing you should do is an audit. It doesn’t have to be complicated or complex; you can catalogue the type of waste you produce and track the waste.

  • Are there certain times where there is more waste?
  • Are there parts of your business that generate more waste than others?
  • Does your office building have recycling options?

Keep the momentum going…

More creative ways for your organization to make the transition to get in the recycling game:

  • Set some simple printing rules for everyone to follow: Set all printers to default to double sided printing and black&white
  • Use only recycled paper
  • Make printing inconvenient (for example shared not individual printers) so people will think twice about printing.
  • Monitor the use of technology (e.g. assigned printing codes)
  • Unplug electronics that are not in use
  • Consider the technology: assisted temperature monitoring and adjustment, re-arranging furniture for optimal airflow and consideration for vents, long-run: consider solar panels
  • Research print/ink solutions
  • Encourage the use of shared files instead of printing (shared company drive on your server, Cloud options like: Google Docs or Dropbox are some popular examples) – the key is they fit with the security parameters of your organization and the effort (hopefully!) simplifies life at work by ending the internal file attachment days.
  • Get your employees involved:

Train your employees (often) on the importance of recycling

-Do you have a Recycling Manager?

-Provide incentives

-Put reminders around the office

-Make it easy:

  • Remember the good old water cooler? The water fountain? Consider installing instead of using water bottles.
  • Put filters on your water sources
  • Give your staff company thermoses, mugs and reusable water bottles (branded of course!)
  • Clearly label trash and recycle bins, encourage that your team be mindful of what they do with their waste
  • Have a centralized location for office supplies and use a checkout log. Make sure someone is assigned to monitor.
  • Schedule regular picks ups for trash bins
  • Install motion sensored lights

Rethink common products:

  1. Use LED lights and bulbs
  2. Use recycled paper products (paper towels, napkins, toilet paper)
  3. Maximize natural light: Are skylights an option? What about opening the shades?
  4. Check the thermostats
  5. Have evening and weekend thermostat settings

Client & Community involvement is a good thing!

  1. Let your clients know your recycling goals, ask for theirs and celebrate accomplishments
  2. Plant trees as gifts for your clients
  3. Sign a pledge
  4. Host or co-host a recycling/cleanup event in your community

Apply for awards— who doesn’t want to be recognized for recycling accomplishments? Incentivize your employees and watch your accomplishments get recognized. And you know what? I’ve been told that corporations like to see those types of awards on vendor/supplier Capabilities Statements because they can use your accolades and recognition in their marketing materials and promote the fact that their supply chain is sustainable and environmentally friendly.

And, I hope you’ll join me in signing the America Recycles Pledge on or before November 15th … here is what it says:

Join us in recycling more

You can sign the #BeRecycled pledge

Need more ideas? Contact us– many women owned businesses are in this space – many of them are WBDC of FL members and who would love to share their ideas, products and suggestions with you. I’m happy to help make the connection happen … DM me.