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How to Run a Zero Waste Business

Posted on January 01 2020

The zero-waste movement is having more than a moment—the eco-friendly lifestyle is here to stay. As global warming and environmental degradation becomes a pressing problem, many people feel called to make smarter, conservationist choices in their daily lives.

Going zero waste, while challenging, can reduce your personal carbon footprint by leaps and bounds.  By definition, living a zero waste lifestyle means that a person doesn’t produce any trash that can end up in a landfill or incinerator. Everything must be recyclable, compostable, or reusable, from your shopping bags to your clothing to the toilet paper you use.

Admittedly, this can be crazy challenging. Our society isn’t meant to “circular,” or zero waste friendly. Petroleum products and disposables (items that are meant for single use) are pretty much everywhere—and even though most Americans do recycle, some statistics say that only 25 percent of those plastic, glass, and metal byproducts actually make it through the recycling process.

By adopting just a few zero waste and eco-friendly practices, you can make a huge difference and greatly help the environment. A great place to start? Your business. Here’s what you can do to reduce your waste at work.

Digitize everything: Printing? That’s so 2018. In this advanced digital age, there’s really no reason to print work documents. Download a scanning and eFax app for your phone, use PDFs for contracts and invoices, and send emails instead of paper mailers. If you really need to print something—like a deck or portfolio—print double-sided and see if you can use recycled paper instead of brand new paper.

Turn all your bills into e-bills: Easy and efficient! Get rid of junk mail and unnecessary invoices by opting in for a digital billing and communication system. As you receive new paper bills, updates, and other arbitrary paper mail, quickly log in to your associated online account and click the option for paperless billing.

Don’t print business cards: Exchanging business cards is another antiquated practice that’s totally unnecessary in the digital age! With social media and email easily accessible on our mobile devices, there’s no excuse not to exchange a friendly email with someone after meeting them instead of handing them a paper card that will likely end up in the trash.

When asked for a business card, politely explain that you’re reducing your carbon footprint, and instead can send them an email immediately. Punch their email into your phone, hit send, and voila—now you’ve both exchanged contact info!

Recycle electronics properly: While it doesn’t happen all that often, there will be a time when you need to trade in your old, “ancient” computer or smart phone for an up-to-date version. Instead of just throwing your old electronics in the trash, recycle them in-store (most tech stores have a take-back or recycling program) or with your local Waste Management.

Take meetings at eco-friendly locations: Finally, if you don’t have a brick-and-mortar location (or if you’re a health coach who sees multiple clients a day!) patronize a local restaurant or coffee shop that practices sustainability by using reusable plates, cups, and cutlery.

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