Going Green is GOOD for Business!
Going Green may just seem like the latest trend, but it can have a variety
of benefits for your business! Adding eco-friendly practices to the workplace
can help create a healthy environment for your employees, reduce unnecessary
waste and recognizes the role that businesses play in leading a more
Won’t Going Green Cost Me an Arm and a Leg?
Nope! Upfront costs keep many businesses from even attempting greener practices, however, many ways to go green cost little or nothing at all. Some initial costs can also yield significant savings and drive revenues in the long run. Taking the green initiative demonstrates that you are a responsible, environmentally conscious business owner which can improve your company’s reputation and promote business. A company’s reputation plays a big role in its success and more and more people are becoming concerned with the environmental impacts of the products or services they purchase and the company who provides them. In a study run by a Manhattan-based public relations firm, nearly half of the participants said they make some effort to buy green products. Another study showed that 10% of Walmart shoppers stopped shopping there because of the company’s poor reputation including its commitment to the environment. Going Green can draw more costumers to your business and promoting environmentalism as part of your missions statement can help gain loyal customers and protect the environment. Be proud of even small changes to your business and your customers will be too!
Opportunities for Greening your Business - CT DEEP:
How Businesses Can Go Green: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/how-businesses-can-go-green.html
Green Businesses in CT: http://livegreenct.org
Many common cleaning products are toxic! But most can be replaced by natural brands which use all natural and biodegradable ingredients. Natural products also avoid chemicals with suspected human health risks and use no animal testing. In addition, use fragrance and dye free products when possible which often contain artificial chemicals. You may not even realize some of the impacts that harsh cleaners can have on your respiratory health and other physical impacts. Green cleaning reduces impact on water quality and wildlife which toxic chemicals often reach. Better yet, save costs by making your own non-toxic cleaning products! Common household products such as soap, baking soda, vinegar, ammonia, cornstarch and lemon can be used harmlessly to help lift stains, disinfect, deodorize and even polish metal or wood.
Pump That Poo!
Maintaining septic systems is essential! According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, septic systems should be pumped every 3 to 5 years. Proper maintenance prevents septic failure which is costly to fix and prevents bacteria contaminating the groundwater. Fecal bacteria left in our yards from pets or septic system leaching can cause not only cloudy water but also cramps, diarrhea, intestinal illness and serious kidney disorders in humans if consumed. Out of sight, out of mind will hurt you in the long run!
Signs of a failed septic system include patches of lush green grass, a strong sewage odor, and pooling of waste water on the ground surface. Any of these indications requires immediate attention and should contact either Connecticut Department of Public Health or licensed septic contractor.
Tips to maintain a healthy septic system:
- Do not introduce any harsh chemicals into your sewage system: Drainage and toilet bowl cleaners can kill necessary bacteria that are important for breaking down the sewage. Make sure to check the label on cleaning products to make sure they are safe to use in septic systems.
- Never dispose of any automotive or other toxic chemicals down the drain or toilet.
- Avoid throwing any garbage and solid waste into drains such as food, paper towels, cigarettes, tampons and diapers which can clog your septic system.
- Use everyday chemicals sparingly to reduce the amount of chemicals in your septic system. For example, try to reduce the amount of soap, shampoo, and detergent while taking a shower or doing laundry.
For more information on septic systems and maintenance, follow this guide produced by the Connecticut Department of Public Health: http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/environmental_health/environmental_engineering/pdf/Septic_Systems_101.pdf
Are You Putting Poison Down the Drain?!
Not only can toxic chemical pose a major problem for septic systems but they can get into the local water supply. Sewage treatment plants do a pretty good job at removing chemicals before water is released into our waterways, but some chemicals do not degrade easily and can end up in our reservoirs and wells. Specifically, toxic, automotive, and other hazardous waste should never be spilled down sinks, toilets, drains, put into garbage cans or dumped outside. Hazardous materials need to be disposed of properly or it will probably find a way into our drinking water. If you are not sure if a chemical is toxic, information is readily available online for proper disposal techniques. Here is a list of common hazardous waste produced by small businesses. In addition, courses online can help familiarize yourself with types of hazardous materials proper disposal methods.
EPA Guide for Small Businesses on Managing Hazardous Waste:
FEMA Course on Hazardous Waste: http://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-5.a
Trees and plants are important for our watershed because they prevent runoff. Runoff is the primary way pollutants reach our water sources. Large buildings and paved surfaces often guide rain water directly into storm drains along with any pollutant it finds on its way. Tall trees and plants collect water first on their leaves and release water back into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration. Trees and plants also support the soil with their roots and cover the ground with leaf litter which helps water seep into the ground instead of flowing over it into drainage systems. This infiltration is necessary to replenish groundwater which our wells need to pump water into our homes and buildings. Groundwater also helps maintain stream flow during dry periods. Plants and trees also take up and store water which promotes further infiltration and prevents flooding and erosion. Trees are especially good at taking up pollutants in water and converting them to less harmful substances. Before you chop down that tree, think of its huge pollutant absorbing root system and all of the benefits it has for your drinking water!
Trees and plants provide many other benefits as well including improved air quality, reduced temperatures in the summer and provide shade, reduce heating and cooling costs, provides habitat for wildlife and promotes recreation and aesthetic value. Trees can even increase property value!
Controlling Runoff with Trees: http://www.forestsforwatersheds.org/storage/CUFR_182_UFfactsheet4.pdfGuide to Reducing Runoff: http://www.forestsforwatersheds.org/reduce-stormwater/
Trees and plants are good for our groundwater and prevent runoff… But which ones do we plant? Try native! Native plants and grass require less attention and survive well on their own because they are already well adjusted to our soil types and seasonal patterns. There is no need for expensive fertilizers and pesticides which get washed away and pollute our water. Native plants, trees and gardens can have the same aesthetic appeal and require a lot less work without adding harsh chemicals to our water. Native plants have a lot of other benefits as well such as promoting biodiversity and they attract and support native insect and wildlife.
Thinking of starting a native garden or adding some native plants? Here are some great starter plants for Connecticut!
CT Trees and Shrubs: http://www.ct-botanical-society.org/garden/garden2.html