Conscientious consumerism is a growing movement, led by shoppers looking to purchase products that are healthier, more environmentally friendly, and make a positive impact in their community. Sustainability is now a valid competitive business platform and consumers are supporting companies making the effort to go green.
Here are 10 ways to incorporate greener business practices in your office:
1. Build From the Ground Up
Use eco-friendly flooring options made from renewable or recycled materials.
Use sustainable fabrics made from hemp or bamboo for window coverings, or get them secondhand.
Create your own furnishings and decor using salvaged items from local thrift stores.
Trade and swap items for free through your local Freecycle Network.
2. Conserve Energy
Allow natural lighting to illuminate your optical via large windows and/or skylights.
Replace all incandescent lighting with compact fluorescent or LED lights.
Invest in energy-efficient appliances and products.
Turn off (and unplug) appliances and lighting when not in use and/or at the end of the day.
Make sure that thermostats are programmed and turned on less frequently during non-office hours.
Invest in solar energy as a long-term solution.
Clean the air with indoor plants. On mild days, open doors and windows to bring fresh air into the office, eliminating the need for air conditioning.
3. Go Digital, Save Paper
Switch from paper charts to electronic health records.
Require employees to keep files in digital form, communicate through email, distribute documents electronically, print on both sides of the paper, think before printing, recycle paper, and use paper with a high percentage of post-consumer waste (PCW).
Set up an online patient portal that offers secure methods of communication, registration forms, receipts, etc.
Use a tablet for patient registration forms and check-in.
Contact companies to stop sending you unwanted junk mail and magazines. Many popular magazines offer the option of sending a digital copy to your inbox instead of by mail.
4. Get Wise About Waste
Skip the disposable paper or plastic tableware and cutlery in favor of reusable products for staff to use during lunchtime.
Bring reusable mugs and tumblers to work instead of stocking plastic cups.
Place paper recycling bins in convenient locations all over the office, especially near the printer and copier. Everywhere there is a trash can, there should be a recycling bin.
Minimize food waste with a composting system. If you have a cafeteria or break room in your office, consider adding a compost bin. An employee or neighbor with a garden wouldn’t mind the free plant food.
Keep a container near your coffee maker to collect coffee grounds for composting.
Donate unwanted equipment to reduce office waste and even get a tax deduction.
5. Work With Like-Minded Companies
Check with other businesses in your area that are also going green or certified green. Network with them and use their services when you need them.
Hire a cleaning service that specializes in using green cleaning products and methods.
6. Stock Eco-Friendly Eyewear
Read 'Part 1: Environmentally Ethical Eyewear' for a list of eco-conscious eyeglass and sunglass companies.
7. Initiate Employee Incentive Programs
Encourage employees to use public transportation, carpool, drive alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles, or bike to work.
Offer bonuses or prizes to employees for the sale of frames from eco-friendly eyewear companies.
8. Offer Eco-Services
Offer complimentary refills of eyeglass cleaner to patients when they bring back their empty spray bottle.
Sign up to be a ONE by ONE contact lens recycling center. Encourage contact lens patients to bring their empty plastic blister packs, packaging, and solution bottles to be recycled in your office.
Set up a donation bin for outdated, unwanted eyeglasses to be recycled to your local chapter of Lions Clubs International.
9. Market Your Efforts
Identify your practice as a green business on all websites and promotional materials.
Improve your website's SEO to boost your ranking in search engine results.
Spread the word about your green efforts through digital advertising and marketing methods instead of billboards, printed newspapers, or directories.
Send news and promotions through e-mail blasts and social media.
10. Reap What You Sow... and Give It Back
Consider donating a portion of profits or a set amount per purchase of eco-friendly eyewear to local environmental or health conscious organizations and charities.
Through the implementation of these environmental and social initiatives, your practice will benefit in more ways than one. These include gaining a competitive advantage by being perceived as a leader in the industry and community, increased brand value, increased customer and employee loyalty, and cost savings. The benefits aren't a one-way street, though; by helping the environment, businesses can become a part of a mutualistic relationship that provides favorable outcomes to both parties involved.
Do you have any other green business tips to add to this list?
Share your thoughts in the comment section below for others in the community to read, and connect with OEL on Instagram @OptomEyesLife and #OptomEyesLife.