Imagine this, even if you’re not a morning person:
You’re the first to arrive at the office. You turn on the light in the break room and start brewing a pot of coffee. You take out a paper filter and load the industrial-sized coffee machine. You go back to your office and wait a few minutes. Once the coffee has brewed, you grab a Styrofoam cup and pour yourself some Joe. As you exit the break room, you leave the light and hot plate on to keep the coffee warm and note to the latecomers that the day has begun.
In offices around the nation, employees arrive early, start consuming energy immediately, and keep consuming until late in the evening.
Small-business owners want to care about the environment as much as they do about their bottom lines. Sometimes it’s difficult to justify going green when faced with the added expenses.
With rising energy prices, however, it’s beginning to look like the two are no longer mutually exclusive.
Climbing energy costs are burdening small businesses—as much as 87 percent of business owners are reporting negative impacts, according to the National Small Business Association 2011 Energy Survey.1
You can start going green with a few small changes to the daily grind.
It all starts with your morning cup of coffee.
Replace the coffee maker. Most business owners consider coffee an indispensible professional tool. Late nights and early mornings are jump-started with a highly caffeinated dark roast that drives productivity and innovation from dawn to dusk.
At the same time, a coffee maker draws as much as 900 to 1,200 watts.2 A coffee pot doesn’t have to be brewing to drip dimes at a time. The hot plate alone is enough to fry your electric bill.
So, replace the electric coffee maker with a French press. Because French presses have come down in price, you could even purchase one for each employee and still come out ahead.
At 1,200 watts, a coffee maker that runs four hours a day, 260 workdays per year, at 8 cents per kilowatt-hour, will cost your company $99.84 per year. In contrast, a French press requires hot water via a microwave or kettle, both of which use less energy by operating in short bursts of time.
A French press also ensures that your employees don’t have to sacrifice quality of brew in the trade-off.
Use fewer disposable accouterments. A standard coffee maker requires paper filters. And they’re not recyclable once you use them for brewing. A French press does away with all the paper accouterments.
While you’re at it, lose the straw stirrers and individually prepackaged creamers. Save the cost of plastic waste by using metal spoons and purchasing bulk-sized, nondairy creamer.
For a healthful alternative, switch your transfatty nondairy creamer to coconut-milk powder.
Ditch the Styrofoam. Three to four Styrofoam cups per employee per day can add up. Use ceramic mugs as an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable dishware.
Ask your employees to bring in mugs from home as a donation to the cause. Or, institute a “silly mug” day on which employees compete to have the most outrageous or comical ceramic sidekick.
Finally, have mugs monogrammed with your business logo and offer them to employees as holiday gifts or to prospective clients as a marketing tool. Diminishing your company’s carbon footprint can go hand-in-hand with boosting brand awareness.
Install automatic lighting. Staff members don’t necessarily use conference rooms or break lounges at all hours of the day. To reduce energy consumption and electricity costs, install lighting with motion sensors.
Not only will you save on electricity; you’ll also no longer have to make “checking that the lights are off” a hazing technique for new employees.
Keep up the good work! At least 82 percent of small-business owners have already taken one or more measures in the past three years to reduce their energy consumption, according to the NSBA Survey.1 Most of them cited saving money as their main motivation.
Join the ranks, and ask one of your employees to become the energy manager of the office.
So, starting tomorrow morning, go green—it just makes dollars and sense.
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2. U.S. Department of Energy: “Estimating Appliance and Home Electronic Energy Use”