5 Easy Ways To Be An Eco-Friendly Entrepreneur

Nature Chair

Earth Day is almost here! This holiday has brought out the green in people since the 1970’s, but one day isn’t enough. The environment is affected most by the little choices we make every day. Planting a tree or recycling more are nice initiatives, but incorporating sustainable practices into our daily and business operations has an even greater impact.

As entrepreneurs we’re very busy, and time is money. You may think that your business is too small to bother about being green, but earth-friendly choices are actually good for the pocket book as well. And getting involved with local green initiatives can be a great way to build a positive reputation and valuable contacts in the community.

5 Easy Ways To Be An Eco-Friendly Entrepreneur

1. Go Paperless – Printer paper and ink are an unnecessary expense in this digital world. Except when it’s absolutely essential, create all documents and marketing materials in a digital form, and store them in the cloud. Send and receive virtual faxes rather than paper ones. Send your invoices via email rather than mailing them. Send digital PDF proofs instead of print outs. When you must create a hard copy of something, always print double sided.

2. Go Virtual – It’s nice to have face to face meetings, but driving or flying is expensive and leaves a huge carbon footprint. Thanks to free technologies like Skype or Google+ Hangouts, it’s possible to see and be seen by out of town clients without the hassle of traveling.

3. Go Gasless – Since most of us have local clients, it’s not always smart to avoid face to face meetings. But there’s still no reason to get your car involved. Fort Collins is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, so why use four wheels when two will do? Not only will you save on gas, but you’ll never have to worry about finding a parking spot when you’re running late.

4. Go Shareably – Think before you buy, especially if it’s something that you only need for a few hours or days. Cohere creates the perfect environment for recycling things you no longer need or scoring things that would have otherwise been thrown away. Before buying that new office chair, pedal crank, or bunt pan, throw up a request on the Cohere Facebook Group (if you’re a Cohere member and have not yet been added, tell us!). Chance are, we’ve got one lying around.

5. Go Local – Being an entrepreneur has lots of benefits, not the least of which is complete control of your supply chain and the clients with whom you work. This probably goes without saying, but choosing local businesses for office supplies, catering, web hosting, graphic design, copy writing, marketing, legal advice, or happy hour is the single most important way to go green (Hint: a lot of these business owners sit right next to you!). Keeping it in town enhances the local economy, reduces carbon emissions from shipping, allows you to choose sustainable materials, and builds good karma.

Image via opensourceway/Flickr

 

Coworking: An Easy Way To Green Your Business

These days, almost everyone is looking for ways to be green, but just like Kermit said, it’s not always easy.

Whether you’re worried about the planet or not, there are significant benefits for those that live a more eco-friendly life, like saving money, wasting less, and presenting a more responsible image to earth-conscious clients.

By working for yourself, instead of a bloated company full of time and resource-wasting bureaucracy, you’re already pretty lean and mean. But coworking instead of working from home could help you reduce your impact even further. Here’s how:

Ditch The Commute (or at least reduce it)

Most coworking spaces are centrally located in downtown areas or business districts so that they’re convenient to the freelancers that live and play nearby. This means a cross-town commute in morning gridlock becomes a leisurely bike ride or walk. Most car trips occur only 2 miles from the driver’s point of origin. Unfortunately, short trips are up to three times more polluting per mile than long trips. When bicycling or walking is substituted for short auto trips, 3.6 pounds of pollutants per mile are not emitted into the atmosphere.

Consolidate Coffee Pots (and everything else)

Space owners often brag that while city governments bend over backwards to bring a single 200 person company into town, freelancers represent 200 single person companies, some of which grow up to be much bigger. The only problem is that 200 people working at home equals 200 coffee pots, lights, air conditioners, televisions, radios, and printers gobbling down costly energy all day long. When you join a coworking space, this energy consumption is drastically consolidated. Everyone shares a coffee pot, a printer, and only one room has to be heated or cooled instead of 30 entire houses. By coworking, you save money and the environment gets a little break.

Reducing, Reusing and Recycling Made Easy

If you haven’t figured it out by now, coworkers are a pretty creative bunch. Most coworking space owners don’t have lots of capital to throw around, so sustainability and conservation are built into the business plan. At Cohere, recycling is easy because there are handy bins throughout the space. We’ve even got a handy little composting bin in the kitchen ready to repurpose those coffee grounds and apple cores into garden fodder. We offer cloth napkins so you can avoid wasteful paper towels and make use of our amazing skylight to utilize passive solar lighting for 8 months out of the year.

Other coworking spaces take even more drastic steps to clean up their carbon footprint, like purchasing green energy, offering carpools or lender bikes, participating as a drop station for CSAs, and utilizing CFLs and LEDs.

In what other ways has coworking helped you save money, reduce waste or otherwise keep it green? Share your experiences in a comment!

Image Credit: Flickr – Aunt Owwee

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