businessman with an open laptop and a green earth globe coming out of the screen

  1. Connect with, and support, your local community Sustainability Group (like Sustainable Capitol Hill)!  The more invested you are in your community, and vice versa, the more likely it is that residents will shop local, supporting your business and keeping you a part of their community.  Additionally, the stronger the local economy is in our area, the more desirable the neighborhood will become, and the higher the property value will become for you.
  2. Reduce the amount of waste you generate!  Waste reduction can lead to big cost savings for your business.  For example, by double-siding print-outs, or purchasing in bulk, you not only reduce the amount of materials you use (and associated packaging), you have less to dispose of, leading to reduced disposal costs.  For more info, check out King County’s tips.
  3. If you’re a restaurant, sign up for food waste composting.  Check out King County’s commercial food waste recycling program to learn more about how to reduce heavy (and therefore, expensive to dispose of) food waste.
  4. Switch your light bulbs to high efficiency bulbs (CFLs or LEDs).  In addition to lasting up to 10 times longer than regular incandescent bulbs, these will use 75% less energy. This takes a big bite out of your electric bill: each bulb will save about $30 in energy costs over its lifetime! When the CFLs do burn out, make sure to dispose of them properly: you can take them to a Take It Back Network facility to be recycled (call the facility for details), or to a hazardous waste dropoff site.
  5. Use locally-owned and -operated businesses for your services. Cleaning services, plumbers, electricians, handymen, key duplication services, hardware stores, and management services can all come from local businesses. And again, when you support our local economy, it becomes stronger, which benefits all of us.
  6. Use non-toxic cleaning materials. You can make some cleaners, and those you can’t are often cheaper for you, as well as better for the environment. Better still, you (or your staff) will be taking in fewer nasty chemicals!
  7. Practice environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP).  Can you purchase more locally?  Can you sell more organic or natural products?  Where can you substitute recycled-content materials for virgin ones?  Being conscientious about the small things can really add up over time.  Get started by checking out the EPA’s EPP site.
  8. Weatherproof windows and doors throughout the building. Weatherproofing or weatherization includes: window caulking and weatherstripping; installing storm windows and/or new energy-efficient windows; pipe wrapping outdoors and in carport areas; weatherstripping exterior doors; and insulating the attic, walls, and crawlspaces. Check with Seattle City Light to see if your building might qualify for a Multifamily Weatherization Rebate. For low-income buildings, there is also a weatherization program for low-income apartment buildings.
  9. Calculate your carbon footprint to give your company a baseline.  There are several companies who can assist you with providing a custom carbon footprint, or you can use one of several online calculators to get a sense of how you’re doing and where you can start making improvements.  You can get a start here: TerraPass, Conservation International, and a fun tool to make your website carbon neutral…try C02stats.
  10. Help one another out!  If your business has had success working with a specific recycling program or a great recycled content product, share your experience with your colleagues!  Word of mouth is an incredibly strong tool, and by helping one another out we can all move forward in a more positive direction.  If you don’t have a website or a way to broadcast your success, try sharing your story with local press outlets, the Chamber of Commerce, or another business networking group.

If you’re looking for information on local, sustainability-oriented businesses, check out the Natural Choice Directory or the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE).  If you’re a business thinking about “going green,” here’s a great resource for beginning the process.