Running a small business involves a lot of wheels turning. It can be difficult to pay attention to every aspect of your business, especially when getting things off the ground. Often, a business’s carbon footprint is not high on the list of priorities in the first few years. There are some easy ways to keep your business environmentally friendly, saving you money and the effort of restructuring your business practices later. Here are some great ways small businesses can be environmentally conscious.

Donate or Recycle Old Office Equipment

When you get a new printer, copy machine, refrigerator, or other appliance, don’t throw them out. If the old ones work, consider donating them to a local school or nonprofit. If you’re replacing broken equipment, contact an appliance recycling company to haul your junk away and dispose of it properly. This prevents harmful chemicals in appliances and electronics from going to the landfill and ending up in the ground water.

Use Sustainable Materials

No matter what your products are, there are ways to make them more energy efficient and/or environmentally friendly. If you make food, you can make sure to use locally grown, responsibly sourced produce and other agricultural products. If you work with wood, look into using SFI certified redwood, or other sustainable types. Break down your products to their smallest parts and rebuild them as sustainably as possible.

Don’t Throw Away Boxes

Keeping Your Small Business Eco-Friendly

Depending on your industry, it’s possible you get truckloads of cardboard boxes every week. If this is the case, don’t fall into the trap of filling up the dumpsters on stock day. Instead, find local organizations that need boxes, like shelters and thrift stores. Chances are that forming partnerships like this will improve your relations with the employees of these organizations, winning you some free word of mouth and possible customers.

If you have more boxes than anyone needs, list them on Craigslist’s free section. There are always people looking for free boxes for moving purposes. This low-maintenance action keeps dumpsters full of cardboard from filling up your local landfills.

Watch the Printing Budget

Businesses can go through a lot of paper. Often, paper copies of paystubs and timesheets have to be printed, signed, and stored for historical reference. There may not be a way around this for your company, but talk to your accountant about your options.

One of the main uses of paper often comes from the marketing department. Commit to reviewing rough drafts of all marketing materials digitally rather than physically. If your marketing team visits tradeshows and conferences, have them utilize a tablet or laptop for email signups and other lead generation tactics instead of printing out tons of paper that people will just throw away in their hotel rooms.

There are a lot of things to think about when running a business, but often, environmental consciousness involves simplifying your processes rather than complicating them. How can your business cut back and benefit the environment? Discuss in the comments!

Author Bio: Jeriann Watkins is a blogger and small business owner in Boise, Idaho. She spends her time making crafts out of scrabble tiles and reused bottles, as well as pinning millions of crafts on Pinterest that she will never get to. Check out her blog at
photo credit: Recycle Yellowstone via photopin (license)