The Red Sox are headed to the World Series, thanks to an 11-2 trouncing of the Cleveland Indians in the final game of the American League Championship Series. But the Sox aren't just making news on the sports pages. They've also recently announced a major initiative aimed at making their business more environmentally friendly.
By 2012, fans at Fenway will munch local hot dogs and locally grown organic produce under energy-efficient lights while drinking local beer in cornstarch-based cups. The club is even considering installing solar panels to reduce the electricity it draws from power plants.
Those efforts come on top of existing initiatives to use nontoxic cleaning products and to recycle: The club so far this season has recycled 10 tons of cardboard, saving an estimated 170 mature trees, 4,600 gallons of oil, 70,000 gallons of water and 41,000 kilowatt hours of electricity.
Think your company is too small to be able to afford such a move? Well, think again. Here are a few things you can do to make your operation environmentally friendly
Reduce Your Energy Use
Start by upgrading your lighting. Replace any incandescent bulbs with
compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs. These are more expensive than standard incandescent bulbs, but they pay off in the long run. A typical CFL uses about a third of the electricity of an incandescent bulb, and lasts 10 times longer. By replacing one 75-watt incandescent bulb with an 18-watt CFL, you'll use about 570 kWh less electricity over the bulb's lifetime -- saving about $45 for just one bulb.
You can also increase the efficiency of your lighting by installing reflectors on fluorescent fixtures and switching to
energy-efficient exit signs. If your employees occasionally forget to turn off the lights when they leave a room -- or if they don't even know where the light switches are --consider installing timers or motion sensors, especially in places such as restrooms and supply closets that aren't always occupied.
In most office buildings, a lot of energy -- and money -- goes right out the window. Improve your
insulation by sealing any leaks around doors and windows, as well as in air ducts. And don't over-cool or over-heat your office.
In winter, keep temperatures between 65 and 68 degrees Farenheit during the day and between 60 to 65 degrees at night. In the summer, set the thermostat between 70 and 80 degrees during the day and at 80 degrees at night.
carbon footprint by limiting business travel. When possible, teleconference with clients and employees in remote locations instead of meeting in person.
If your business travel is nonnegotiable, you may wish to purchase
carbon offsets for the miles you and your employees fly or drive. If you have a company vehicle, or a fleet of vehicles, consider switching to
hybrids. You're guaranteed to save a chunk of change in gas, and you may also be eligible for individual or business
federal tax credits as well as
Another option is to follow in the footsteps of businesses like
Oakhurst Dairy, which have converted at least part of their fleets to biodiesel.
Reduce, Recycle, Refurbish
Save a few trees by encouraging emailing instead of paper memos, printing on both sides of the page, recycling used paper and buying paper made from recycled content. Consider leasing office equipment or buying equipment from companies that offer to take back the product at the end of its life. For instance,
TradeUps, which allow customers to return used equipment for a rebate toward a new model. Xerox will reuse as much of the old product as possible and recycle the rest.
If the manufacturer of your office equipment doesn't offer recycling,
donate your old stuff to schools or nonprofits. You'll prevent toxic materials from entering a landfill, you won't have to pay to dispose of the material and you'll be eligible for a tax deduction. If you're in manufacturing, ask your suppliers for recycled materials--they may even be less expensive than new materials.
If you're not already recycling all your paper, bottles and cans, get cracking! You may save money by reducing the amount of trash you need to toss in the landfill. For their part, the Red Sox will add more recycling bins throughout the park and hold a fifth inning recycling stretch.
Want some help? There are plenty of resources out there to help you make your business as green as Fenway's Monster.
Friends of the Earth Scotland offers a free online office audit, then provides personalized advice based on your results. The
Green Office offers all sorts of environmentally friendly office supplies as well as a free consultation to help you make your business environmentally sustainable. And
Energy Star also provides guidance for small business owners on topics including tax incentives, loans and grants that can help you transition to a greener business model.
Kelsey Abbott is a freelance writer in Freeport, Maine, where she lives with her husband and their dog.