Write an environmental vision statement. It's easier to get behind a vision when all your players know what the com[pany stands for. This foundation will show customers, employees, and your community that your business is invested in the environment. With your team, write an environmental vision statement and goals that all your employes understand, and will uphold. At minimum, such statement commonly affirm a company's intentions to respect the environment.
Measure and track your waste. Watch what your company consumes—energy, supplies, raw materials; and what it wastes—packaging, raw materials, energy. Try to measure and quantify this waste: How much do you spend to purchase, handle, store, and dispose of the wasted material? Your audit may be as simple as counting the trash bags your salon disposes of on a weekly or monthly basis, or checking energy utility bills.
Rally the troops. Employee participation is essential to a successful environmental initiative. Bring together a team of employees to promote environmentalism in the workplace. Consider creating incentives such as a rewards and recognition for employees who drive your company's environmental efforts. Name a periodic "green champion" in order to single out employees' environmental actions.
Reduce office waste. Use fewer products and use fewer raw materials at the front desk and administrative operations. Start with cutting back on paper: Establish a company-wide policy of photocopying on both sides of the paper, using the blank side of printed material for creating draft documents, and e-mailing reports instead of printing copies. Use outdated forms and letterheads for in-house memos; post general memos in central locations; encourage saving documents on disk rather than paper. You'll save money immediately.
Green your purchases. Specify your commitment to seek out environmentally preferable products. Identify opportunities to purchase recycled, refurbished or reconditioned products where they compete favorably in price, performance, and quality with new ones. Whenever possible, use specific critieria—for example, paper purchases must contain at least 50 percent post-consumer recycled material. Work with your regular suppliers to identify their willingness to comply with your policy. See out alternative suppliers and let employees and suppliers know you expect materials and products to meet environmental standards.
At the end of the day, turn it off. Encourage employees to turn off lights, curling irons, waxing machines, and other devises when they are not in use, especially after hours and on weekends. Consider installing timers to cut the power after hours.
Reduce and conserve water. Locate and fix water leaks routinely. Conduct a water audit to find faucets and toilets that leak and have them fixed as soon as possible.
Green your printing. Whether you print in-house or contract with outside printers, look into environmentally friendly printing products and processes. Whenever possible, use recycled paper that is bleached without chlorine. Seek out printers that use water-based press cleaners and soy- or other vegetable-based inks. When designing printing projects, avoid elements that reduce recyclability, such as foil stamping, adhesives, and plastic bags.
Pick products wisely. Instead of offering coffee in disposable cups to your clients or birthday cake on paper plates at staff meetings, encourage employees to bring their own mug, cutlery and dish wear when possible.
Seek recognition for your environmental efforts.
Apply for corporate environmental awards to benchmark your successful sustainability efforts. For more information, check out GreenBiz.com
Awards Directory, National Environmental Performance Track.