Whether it’s reducing waste, boosting efficiencies or attracting new customers, small businesses benefit from implementing sustainable office practices.

“Going green” could mean something as simple as pledging to use a certain amount of renewable energy to working hand-in-hand with a charitable organization to strengthen the environment.

Here are six ideas for green initiatives to get you started. Your bottom line and the planet will thank you.

6 Achievable Green Initiatives for Small Businesses:

1. Ditch Paper

In small businesses and giant corporations alike, paper is starting to become a thing of the past. Rather than keeping an old-fashioned filing cabinet, save yourself time and money and digitize your files.

Just as email has largely replaced letters, Cloud technology and services like Dropbox, Excel and countless CRM systems make this transition easier than ever before.

Get started by swapping something small to start, like the employee schedule, and try a cloud based employee schedule (this one is free for up to 75 employees). Swapping paper in the office for its digital counterpart boosts efficiencies by making everything easily transferable and accessible across multiple devices.

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It could also save the world—paper waste accounts for 50% of all business waste and U.S. offices use more than 12 trillion sheets of paper every year, according to The World Counts. Make your business paperless and reduce that number while boosting your bottom line.

 2. Focus Marketing Efforts Online

Green initiatives are not about compromise—they’re about evolving your business to create new efficiencies. One way to do that is by focusing your marketing efforts online.

Instead of using letters or postcards to market your business, shift towards email marketing campaigns. Email marketing is a cheap, effective way of getting your name out there. It helps you stay connected to current, past and future customers while creating customer engagement. Ultimately, that engagement pays off in sales.

There are lots of different tools to help you create effective email marketing campaigns. From MailChimp to Constant Contact, find the best tool for your business and move your marketing campaigns online.

Social media is another great way to market online. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, social media can help small businesses create a big presence with minimal expenditure or impact on the environment.

3. Make Payments Online

When it comes to green business initiatives, shifting your marketing efforts online is only the tip of the iceberg. Follow up that success by moving your payments and invoice processing systems online too.

There are many ways to accept payments online. From simple steps like enabling customers to pay with their credit card to more effective solutions like adding payment forms directly to your website, online payment solutions reduce paperwork and boost efficiencies.

You can even create custom online payment forms specifically tailored to your brand that send automatic reminder emails when payment is due—a stronger, greener option to sending paper bills and wasting time on the phone.

4. Optimize the Little Things and Consider Green Investments

When it comes to making your office greener, don’t forget the little things.

Replace standard lightbulbs with energy saving, compact fluorescent light bulbs. Install energy-saving power strips that automatically switch off to save electricity and invest in reusable cups and mugs to eliminate waste and save money over the long-term.

After optimizing the basics, consider green investments like solar panels. While the upfront cost may scare you, many states offer financial incentives to help small businesses make green investments.

Check your state’s policy — you might be surprised at what you find. And even if you don’t qualify for a rebate, many solar panels pay for themselves over their lifespan.

5. Align Your Business with a Green Cause

Just as partnering with a charity can be a viable business strategy, working towards a green cause can help both your business and the environment.

A Morning Consult poll found that Millennials are more likely than older generations to say it matters that American businesses give back to society. On top of that, an international study from Unilever said one third of consumers choose to buy from brands they believe are helping social or environmental causes.

Unilever’s study asked 20,000 adults from five countries how sustainability concerns impact their consumer choices, and 78% of U.S. respondents said they feel better buying sustainably produced products. Importantly, the study tested their claims against real purchases, and found those claims accurately translated into a preference for sustainable businesses.

Unilever also said these findings ring true across their own business, where products that integrate sustainability into their purpose, such as Ben & Jerry’s and Dove, are growing 30% faster than the rest of the business.

While small businesses have many differences from global titans like Unilever, there’s no reason you shouldn’t ally with a green cause to tap into that growth.

6. Make It Known

And last but not least, make your green initiatives known!

Unilever’s study said 21% of people indicated they would actively choose brands that made their sustainability accomplishments clear in their marketing.

Simply put—if you’ve got it, show it. Don’t let your green accomplishments hide in the dark. Instead, embrace them proudly and use them to drive your business.

Small businesses are in a great position to implement green initiatives. While at first glance many owners may think they can’t afford to spend time and money making their business more sustainable, the truth is you can’t afford not to. So whether it’s embracing a paper-free office or moving your payment systems online, use green initiatives to strengthen both your business and the environment.

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Erik Dolan-Del Vecchio

Erik Dolan-Del Vecchio

Erik Dolan-Del Vecchio creates content that informs, helps, and, with luck, entertains professionals across the marketplace. From covering happenings in the commercial real estate industry to unpacking small business finance, his writing explores critical topics in the world of business.

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