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by Rachel Hutchisson, Business Doing Good & Blackbaud, Inc.

It’s Earth Day tomorrow.  Do you have plans?

You do?  Fabulous!  Thanks for taking the time to think about the world we live in, the air we breathe, and the environment that so often gets forgotten over more pressing business concerns.  Again, thank you.

But wait!  Some of you didn’t say “yes” to that plan question, did you?  Hm.  Well, never fear.  There’s still time for you to get involved.  Because every day can be Earth Day. 

It’s never too late to begin thinking about the natural world around us, about how the habits we have as people and businesses affect the air, the water, the trees, the ecosystem.  There was a time when Earth Day was for “treehuggers” or diehard environmentalists.  Things have changed, and that’s good.  Earth Day truly is for everyone on the planet.  And if you need a little inspiration for how to get started, how to adopt some environmentally friendly practices in your business — or add to the ones you already have — check out this list.  Maybe you’ll be inspired.  Doing just one more good thing is a step in the right direction.

1) Create a Green Team – talk to the people who work at your small business and identify a few who really care about the natural world.  Perhaps you have some gardeners in your midst or people who care about buying organic food.  Ask them to start a Green Team, which will come up with ideas for how the business can adopt more environmentally friendly practices.

2) Begin to Track your Resources – create a simple spreadsheet that helps you track how much energy and water you are using and how much waste you are sending off to the landfill.  While you’re at it, record how much you recycle, as well.  If you have questions, contact your service and utility providers so you can best understand what metric to use (it’s probably there on your monthly bill).  Once you have benchmarked your use, it’ll be easier to tell if changes you make help.  (For example, ask employees to keep the blinds closed during hot days to cut down on the drag to your cooling system.)

3) Go ENERGY STAR - If you use any applicances in your small business (refrigerators, microwaves, etc.), adopt a policy that you’ll only purchase ENERGY STAR or high efficiency models.

4) Shut Down the Machines – set your computers to hibernate if they aren’t used for 10 minutes, and make sure everyone completely powers down all the office equipment at the end of each day.

5) Use Green Cleaning Products – purchase environmentally friendly cleaning products or ask your cleaning service to use these products.

6) Buy Recycled Paper – whether its for the paper towels in your kitchen or the paper in your printers, make sure you’re using recycled paper products.

7) Cut down on Junk Mail – keep the junk mail and catalogs you get for a rainy day, then contact the companies to remove your name from the list.

8) Celebrate your Green Wins – whatever you’re doing, even if it’s really small, make sure you celebrate it.

So what are you waiting for?  Get going!  Every day CAN be Earth Day.



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