Last month, we posted about our new recyclable binders on social media. As we mentioned in the post, we do try to keep most of our operations in the “cloud” (more on that later), but sometimes we do have to print hard copies of documents and wanted to figure out a better way to house them. Surprisingly, this simple post resonated beyond most of our other posts combined (eh, we’re trying our best to run “engaging” social channels, whatever that means). This inspired us to share a few small things that we do around our office, most of which can be implemented in a day, to make it better for us and the planet. Feel free to share your daily tips with us below; we’d love to implement some new ideas.

Buy Local.

When we can, we buy local. This ranges from buying office supplies to office furniture to all-hour-of-the-day coffee runs. More than benefiting the local economy, small businesses contribute more to causes in your area and employ more people in your community. Also, by buying local products, you cut down on transportation costs and the overall environmental footprint that comes with shipping and packaging. And, in our experience, you find more unique pieces that provide value to your office.

Here’s a table from Dry Levee, a Cookeville-based business that salvages old wood to make new pieces. Also pictured is a wooden sculpture from Cookeville-based artist Brad Sells. Yes, those are ice axes randomly hanging out.

Support B Corp Businesses.

Here’s Kevin at our Earth Day River Cleanup wearing a shirt from our friends and fellow B Corp, Cotopaxi. We like their shirts and simple messaging so much that we got their permission to put our logos on the back! Plus, encouraging employees to wear organic t-shirts to work and events reduces toxic output from dry cleaning and cuts down on spending.

Another major way to usher in the new, more sustainable economy is to support businesses and companies that operate under a triple-bottom line approach, focused on people, planet, and profit. B Corps are using the power of business to better the planet by focusing on social initiatives and environmental causes in addition to profits. When you see the B label, know that you’re investing in the new economy that subscribes to the principles of transparency, accountability, and sustainability. One of the most important elements of changing what it means to do “business as usual” is to support companies trying to use business as a force for good in the world and their communities.

Bike or walk to work (and make it easy for your employees to do so, too).

We’re of the opinion that Tennessee has some of the most beautiful Spring and Fall seasons, and we get to enjoy them even more when we bike or walk to work. Our offices are located within biking-distance to all the buildings where we need to go on a daily basis (i.e. courthouse, post office, judges chambers, etc). This prompted us to purchase a company bike, in addition to encouraging employees to commute and park their bikes inside the office.

Plus, biking is healthy and saves you (and your employees) money. A 2011 cost-benefit analysis of biking investments in Portland, OR, by the Journal of Physical Activity and Health determined that Portland residents could save between $388 and $594 million in individual health care costs by 2040 because of the city’s increased investment in bike infrastructure. Building the foundations of a healthy office culture can most definitely start with a bit of savings, exercise, and fresh air.

 

We tend to use these insulated options. Klean Kanteen, another B Corp, can hook you up with anything that you want —  but you can also encourage employees to bring their own to work.

Use your own reusable coffee cups, mugs, and water bottles.

Our days are filled with varying legal tasks —  but one essential constant is coffee. We frequently emerge from our contracts and documents to grab a cortado or americano (or cappuccino if we’re feeling fancy). We keep our own coffee mugs and cups ready to run downstairs to Poet’s Coffee in Cookeville or Mad Priest in Chattanooga to cut down on the single-use cups and plastics. This is something easy to implement in your office space and with your team, especially if you have a sink for rinsing and some sort of storage for the mugs. Bonus, you can keep an office set with your branding on them and encourage your clients or customers to adopt the healthy habit, too (and by healthy habit, we mean cutting down on single-use plastics… the “health” of absurd amounts of coffee is debatable).

 

Embrace the cloud.

This is a snapshot of our Chattanooga office space. Trust us, this clean design and layout would not have been possible if our method of organization involved physical documents and file folders. There is style, organizational, and environmental value in cloud management.

We know that it’s difficult to adopt a new method of task organization and office management, but converting from more traditional paper-based models to online and digital management is not only more environmentally-sound, but nearly essential. With the rise of digital filing, the millennial workforce, global connectivity and communication, and culture based on efficiency —  employees, clients, and consumers have come to expect digital collaboration. Moving to the “cloud,” whether it be through Google, Adobe, Dropbox, OneDrive, or a combination of them, is a reality of our modern business landscape.

Somewhat ironically, there are many online resources that you can consult to help make the switch to an online system of management. We use a combination of Google (G Suite in particular) and Adobe (for signing, scanning, and sorting docs) in our cloud management —  cutting down on physical documents and the administrative time that it takes to organize them. As an added bonus, paperless cloud systems reduce clutter and yield a clean and more organized office space. On a heavier note, make sure that you choose a cloud management system that qualifies as high-security enterprise provider in order to protect yourself and your data.

In-office recycling bin (or convince your building to start recycling)

One of the more-obvious suggestions that we’ve implemented is office recycling. We bought a labeled recycling bin and placed it beside our printer in our office to encourage recycling and plastics and paper. Typically, our bin fills up once a month, so it really isn’t too much of a burden. Plus, seeing the physical amount of stuff that would have otherwise piled up in a landfill reminds us to cut down on consumption of single-use items and to reuse any materials that we can.

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Overall, we like what we’ve been seeing in the business community; businesses really can do well by doing good. However, there is still a long road ahead when it comes to making that full transition from profit-driven to mission-driven. We recognize that these few tips won’t completely bridge that gap —  but they are things that you can implement right now (with very little cost) that gets us all one step closer.

Kevin Christopher

Author Kevin Christopher

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RVL® is a business, intellectual property, and technology firm, building today’s companies for tomorrow’s economy.