Money saving, eco-friendly ideas are all around you, you just have to start looking for them. Being a more ‘green’ company doesn’t require massive investments or big changes in how you do business. Small steps, done repeatedly over time, make the most impact.
The photo above needs a bit more explanation, but hopefully it will spark some ideas that are right in front of you in your own business.
What do we do with Slip Sheets?
On the left of the photo you see rolls of paper separated by ‘slip sheets’. These are basically wax-paper rings that are inserted between rolls of paper when they are shipped to us. This is because this adhesive backed paper often has a bit of adhesive residue on the edges – without the slip sheets, the entire group of rolls could stick together into one big mess! The slip sheets are necessary – unfortunately they can’t be eliminated.
So the next step is finding a suitable recycle or reuse purpose for them. Since they are wax coated, it was difficult to recycle them in our standard mixed paper recycle stream. So if we can’t recycle, how can we reuse them?
How do we fill our boxes?
On the right you see the slip sheets actually being used to stuff boxes that are shipped to our customers. This is a perfect use for this material – and it saves us the cost of purchasing packing paper. It is a win – win – win for us, the customers, and the environment.
On a related note – back when all employees took the daily newspaper – we tried using newspaper to stuff the boxes, but this proved difficult because the ink from the paper often transferred onto the labels in the box – and it didn’t present a very professional image to our customers – seeing their beautiful labels packed in comics or classified ads for used cars! This new solution doesn’t have any of these problems.
How can you apply this?
If you are just getting started, we get it. It isn’t easy and often the overwhelm prevents people from even beginning their eco-journey. It doesn’t have to be that hard.
- What is one area of waste we can attack? This could be corrugated, wood, paper, chemicals, or some type of secondary packaging – like slip sheets. Look around your business and start with the items that are filling your dumpster or your recycle bin. Start with one thing.
- What could we do with this? Could we donate this material to an art class at a local school? Could we reuse it within our own operations? Could we get our vendor to take it back and reuse it when they ship us the next widget? Could we buy in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging required to get this product into our company?
- How do we do it without disrupting the workflow? People – coworkers – and maybe even yourself are the biggest obstacle to recycling and other eco-friendly efforts. Surprise – people don’t like change! You have to make it easy and simple for people if they are going to consistently do something new. Additionally, you have to show the WHY – what is the payoff for the business or for them personally? But – even with a big WHY – you will get much more excited adoption of the project if it is simple and easy.
- Start small and build. Don’t try to change everything at once – it won’t work. Start with a small, easy, high value project and get a quick win. Success breeds success – don’t be shy about publicizing the success. Share it with employees and on your blog and social media so your customers can get into the process. Build support for the first win, and the second one will be that much easier.
- Ask for Help. Other businesses (like Rose City Label) that may be a bit further down the path than you are HAPPY to help. Contact your trash hauler, your local County or City government, and you vendors and customers. Don’t be shy – every business started, and you can too. Ask for help and let others give you guidance – you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Once you have the GREEN mindset, this stuff will just come to you – really! Once you look for it, and build it into your business DNA, it isn’t difficult.
Start today and take one small step – or better yet, call someone and let them guide you. You will make progress quicker than you think, and before you know it, you will be helping others on their own eco-journey. Just pick one small thing and start today – you can do it!