Going Green Has Moved From Idealism To Smart Business

In the past, companies have gone green as part of both an ideology and to send a message about their community responsibility. It’s mostly been considered an expense attributed to Marketing and Public Relations.

In the past, the cost of being green has been prohibitive to many small companies. Today it is becoming the exact opposite; a way to reduce both the cost and the environmental impact.

The current economic state has turned the reasons for going green from purely a philosophical stance and a calculated cost to being about the bottom line and potential savings. Fuel costs alone have thrown the balance towards ecological thinking

It is no longer about making a statement, it’s just good business.

Part 1 – Consumables, The easy place to start

The paperless office was a joke when it was first thought of in the 80’s and 90’s. We have been creating more papers since then than ever before. But again, the cost of office supplies is increasing, so by going green and actually reducing the amount of paper and other disposables used you will save money and the environment in one move.

Modern software packages – Office 2007 for instance – have file sharing and cooperative functions built in that make working on electronic copies of documents easier and better than ever before. Implementing new document handling services will also save you time and money in the long run by speeding up your processing time and accuracy. A piece of paper gets misplaced a lot easier than an email.

Accounts Payable Management

Accounts payable and Invoices are big problem areas for many companies. Different standards and systems often cause payment policy problems. Espcially if you are using a central processing that sends invoices out for verification.

Use scanners and email to verify invoices between departments. The cost of losing an Invoice is often high in both supplier relations and financial terms. Emails can be traced much easier than papers.

You can also consider using a system like American Express – @ work. Which allows you to completely computerize your expense processing, all invoices can be processed through this system, not just the ones paid with the AMEX card. Saving you both paper and postage if you normally send paper copies of invoices for verification to different site managers etc.

Using the Amex Card for invoice payments also adds a net 30 days to your payment time. Which can even out the disparity between a company who has a fixed payment policy and suppliers who invoice with different payment times.

I am sure that there are many services like this, but the one I have most experience with is the AMEX system, which is why I’m mentioning it, if you can find something that works as well or better, please give me a heads up.

Printing / Copying

Printers are expensive, ink and toner is expensive. And they are power hogs. By reducing the amount of papers used, you can reduce the cost of all three, and keeping fewer more efficient printer/copier combinations in a central location.

Using double sided printing and copying for anything that does not specifically require a single sided print can reduce the paper usage with over 40%. (Client observation) Most modern copiers have automated single to double sided conversion settings.


Filing systems take up between 5 and 15 percent of the floor space in an office. With less paper, you will be able to either improve the conditions of the employees with more open space. Or you can move to a smaller office.

Less paper in filing also reduces cost of long term storage of documents, and if created and maintained electronically from the beginning, you reduce the cost of converting them later.

Reduced Housekeeping

Anything that reduces paper waste also reduces the potential cost of document destruction as well as cleaning cost. 10-15 percent of all cleaning activities are focused around emptying trash, and most office trash is paper. Less garbage is a strong negotiating point with your cleaning service.


The new low energy light bulbs are no news to anyone these days. But the use of them can quickly turn into a money saver. Using 1/5 to 1/6 of a normal incandescent bulb in energy and lasting longer before replacing accomplishes two things immediately.

  1. Reduced energy cost and cost of replacements
  2. Reduced cost of maintenance with fewer calls for broken bulbs

Task Lighting is also better for employee health and well-being, just ask your average employee how they feel about overhead fluorescents in general and you’ll see that this is a very quick way to make the workspace a more comfortable and inviting place.

No reason not to do it

Reducing and replacing consumables is a direct money saver, capable of both improving the bottom line and the workplace environment for employees. The long term effects of better environment on the cost of sick leaves, workers comp and other health related expenses Is hard to predict, but can only work in your favor.

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