National Bike to Work Day Is The Perfect Time to “Go Green”

The third Friday in May (that’s today!) is National Bike to Work Day.  This day originated back in 1955 by the League of American Bicyclists and serves to promote the bicycle as a healthy and safe alternative for commuting to work.  

Biking to work certainly has its advantages: you get good exercise, parking is free, and bike shorts are super cool (OK, maybe we’ll skip that last one).  But on top of all that, biking to work is good for the environment, too.  Bypassing the gas pump, even for just one day, reminds us that burning less fuel and putting out less air pollution, particularly in warmer months when air quality suffers, is something to strive for.  National Bike to Work Day serves as a good reminder of the importance of protecting our planet.

“Going green” has been a popular trend among American businesses for quite some time.  From airlines using biofuels to cereal companies attempting to protect the bees, companies are greening up. The market is responding to customer demands — particularly Millennial demand for expressed conservation efforts — for environmental stewardship, and companies across a range of industries are responding by creating production methods that promote sustainability.  And, as it turns out, environmentally friendly practices are pretty good for the company bottom line.  According to a Harvard Business School study originally published in 2011 of 180 U.S. companies, businesses classified as “high sustainability” — those that had voluntarily implemented sustainability practices — were found to outperform those classified as “low sustainability.”  And a 2013 Nielsen survey of 30,000 consumers found that 42% of consumers surveyed in North America said they would pay extra for products from sustainable countries — a 7% increase from 2011.  People simply want to shop from “green” companies, and they’re willing to pay extra to do so.

So even if you’re not a “greenie” yourself, it’s time to get moving on creating a green focus in your office (and expressing it in your marketing efforts).  Here are three simple suggestions for getting started.

  1. Encourage smarter commuting.

Seeing as today is National Bike Day, this is a great first place to start. Doing more to encourage your employees to bike, walk, or carpool to work is an easy way to cut down on pollution.  Providing a bike rack, a shower, and/or financial incentives to employees who cycle or take public transportation to work or meetings, rather than driving their personal cars, are just a few ways to encourage your workforce to commute smarter.  It doesn’t have to be huge. A raffle for those who used so-called green transportation to get to work — maybe for a free lunch or paid hour of leave — could be enough to encourage your staff to ditch their cars and seek other modes of transport.

  1. Slay the paper dragon.  

Save the trees and slash your office supply budget by eliminating as much paper from your office as possible. Encourage staff and clients to view presentations on their individual laptops (instead of on paper copies), or invest in a large screen for a conference room that can display such presentations. When you do need to print, print double-sided where possible. Use air dryers in washrooms and cloth towels instead of paper in the office kitchen.  Finally, take your name off unwanted mailing lists that send you catalogs and other paper marketing materials.

  1. Kill the energy suckers.

Cell phone chargers, televisions, and anything with an LED display are known as energy vampires because they draw a current even when not in use.  Vow to unplug those cell chargers and install timers on all appliances so that they’re properly turned off at night and over the weekend. Ask employees to turn off their computers when they leave the office and use the power save setting on laptops.  You’ll help the planet and save on your electric bill, too.

Light bulbs are another energy vampire.  Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs) or energy efficient fluorescent tubes.  Energy efficient bulbs can reduce energy consumption by nearly 40%! Since these lights emit less heat, you’ll also save on air conditioning in the summer months.

These suggestions are just the beginning.  Some companies really get into it though: using only locally sourced food for meetings, composting in the kitchen, installing low-flow faucets in the building.  Even if you don’t achieve that level of “green” you can implement small changes today that will make a big impact.  It’s time to get going, if not for the planet then for your bottom line.

Happy Bike to Work Day!

 

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