Sunday, December 13, 2009

Is your business eco-friendly?

"No one person has to do it all but if each one of us follow our heart and our own inclinations
we will find the small things that we can do to create a sustainable future and a healthy environment." John Denver

My business is in an old historic home. When we made the decision to go "green", we approached it by analyzing the many ways we could save on energy and not pollute the environment. It became clear that having a business in a home enabled us to easily set up all sorts of ways to make the necessary changes in order become a full fledged eco-friendly place of lodging.

Other small businesses can easily do the same thing. It just takes a little time and thought and a big commitment. Putting changes in place will not make a difference unless you honor those changes and commit to upholding them no matter what. I have listed what I consider the easiest areas to address when you first begin to make these important changes. We are in hopes that other businesses can use us as a model for their own endeavors.

Environmental awareness (community)
One of the first areas to address is the environment itself. Our employees have done a little research on the issues that most affect our environment. They have come up with the following list:

Environmental issues

  • Invasive Plants and Animals
  • Global Warming/Climate Change
  • Air Pollution
  • Unsustainable Agriculture
  • Water Quality
  • Habitat Loss/Degradation/Fragmentation
  • Overpopulation
In an effort to address these issues, each employee has made himself aware of the problem, where he or she can go to find information on the problem, and how he or she can help eliminate it. It's important that each and everyone one of us develop the attitude that "every little bit helps"; otherwise, the solution would be too overwhelming to even address. We have posted these issues in our Inn, in the reception area, with a list of online web addresses, where more information can be found. Employees are encouraged to discuss these issues with our guests. Following, are a list of online
sources of information:

Specific issues and hands-on solutions
To kick off our eco-friendly program, we selected the following issues to address immediately. They appeared to be the easiest to implement, as some of them were already being addressed.
  • Waste reduction/reuse/recycling
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water conservation
  • Indoor air quality
  • Biodegradable products
Waste: The best way to reduce waste is not to make it in the first place. These three strategies are ways in which that can be accomplished:
Our Inn has managed to address all three issues. We are very careful to avoid creating unnecessary waste and to reuse and recycle all containers and paper and plastic products.
Energy efficiency: This turned out to be fairly easy to address. We immediately changed all of our light bulbs to energy efficient ones, we made a concerted effort to turn off all lights and electrical devices we were not using, and to keep the heat at 65 degrees. We needed a new furnace recently and so installed an energy efficient one which has really stabilized the environment in the Inn.
Water conservation: The first thing we did was to switch from changing guest towels every day to changing them every two or three days. When guests check in, we tell them about our "green" program and ask them if they mind adhering to our policies. All, but one couple, agreed. Next, we made sure that faucets were not left running when not in use, the water in our laundry loads was reduced, and that the washing machine and dishwasher were not run until loaded to capacity.
Indoor air quality: Some of the things we have done are: test for molds, bacteria, and carbon dioxide; change filters frequently; adhere to a non-smoking policy; make sure dust is picked up with end-dust on a clean cloth or dust mop.; and keep solvents in air tight containers. There are many more things that can be done
Biodegradable products: Instead of using toxic solvents and cleaners we have switched to the following, which are all available at the supermarket. Containers have instructions on how to use these products.
  • soaps without synthetic scents, colors or other additives
  • baking sodas
  • washing soda
  • white vinegar
  • lemon juice
  • cloudy ammonia
If all businesses did even half of the above it would make a big difference in our environment.

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  1. You are AMAZING!!! :) I am so impressed with what you are doing and your awareness of these issues. I also am impressed with this whole post as it is loaded with TONS of useful information. I'm so proud of you that I was just hugging you while I read this. Good for YOU!!!! WOW!! You are a GREAT inspiration and you live what you believe. I applaud you. ----Also have a wonderful holiday seaons and know that you are thought of. Thank you for all your kindness. I cherish it. Robin

  2. Robin, Thank you so much for the wonderful comments. They are very much appreciated. BTW, I think we have a mutual admiration society going here, as I find you amazing too.!