There are numerous advantages to operating a green company. It sets a great example for employees, helps your business stand out and most importantly, reduces your environmental impact. Here are five ways to reconsider, modify and restructure business operations while effectively contributing to sustainable economic development.

Conduct an Energy Consumption Audit

To kickstart your company’s transition toward reducing their environmental impact, hire a third-party company to conduct an energy consumption audit. An audit will provide you with a clear picture of current energy usage, areas to work on and a plan for future usage savings. Stay ahead of the competition with a more sustainable business model by allowing your business to be evaluated and identifying huge energy wasters to significantly reduce energy consumption and overall costs. Being recognized as a green company is a big selling point for clients and future like-minded employees, attracting more talented and innovative individuals.

Steer Away From Disposable, Think Reusable

Although convenient, our disposable lifestyles contribute heaps of trash to landfills. Our throw-away society is so accustomed to paper and plastic plates, cups, bottles and cutlery, employees expect their company kitchens to be stocked with all the “essentials.” Steering away from disposables is a gradual transition. Start with encouraging employees to bring their own reusable coffee mugs, cups for water and cutlery for lunch. Offer incentives, like gift cards, free lunch and reusable water bottles for those who consistently avoid disposables. Eventually, stop purchasing paper and plastic disposables all together and only keep a small inventory of biodegradable plates and cutleries for emergencies.

Choose Green Materials

Whether you manufacture goods or provide a service, every company purchases materials and supplies for different reasons. When purchasing office supplies, purchase in bulk, avoid plastic and Styrofoam, prioritize durability and quality over the price, and do your research about the company selling you the products and their efforts to be sustainable. If you manufacture and distribute goods, consider eco-packaging, use products made of paper and consult the criteria set out by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. When distributing goods, pay attention to what vehicles your company uses and how you fuel them. Switch to hybrid or electric cars and trucks if possible and fuel with alternative and renewable energy sources. Consider biofuels which convert biomass, such as corn, directly into liquid fuels to power your vehicles. Biodiesel reduces your carbon footprint while on the road, but it also makes remediation and clean-up easier in case of a spill. Although easy on the planet, biofuels can be aggressive to the elastomers used in delivery, dispensing and storage of the fuel, so be sure to use compatible Viton fluorohoydrocarbon o-rings.

Adopt an In-Office Recycling Program

In order to implement a recycling program that actually works, find leaders who are passionate about the environment to spearhead the program. These individuals will be responsible for educating staff, ensuring other employees are falling suit, creating an incentive program and growing the program when needed. Educating co-workers will not only inform them of the impact of their contribution but also motivate them to continue recycling when possible.

Green Web Hosting

Disposable cups and plastic packaging seem trivial when you consider that running all the servers in the U.S. is equivalent to running five nuclear power plants, the Huffington Post reports. Choose one of the top 5 green hosting companies to manage your server space in an eco-friendly manner. By supporting green hosters, you’ll rest assured that the energy needed to run your servers will come from a renewable power source. The money these companies save by cutting energy costs is manifested in their affordable prices, which end up being nearly the same price as a traditional web hosting company.

Whether your company is taking small steps by eliminating Styrofoam and plastic or bigger leaps by switching to renewable energy sources, reducing your company’s environmental footprint is marketable to both clients and potential employees, allows you to stay ahead of the competition and decreases costs in the long-run.