Blog Action Day 2009: How Freelancers Can Run Greener Businesses
Plenty of big companies routinely announce that they’re going green — they’re encouraging telecommuting to bring their carbon footprints down or they’re putting solar panels on their roofs to reduce dependence on other energy sources.
That’s good for big companies. But for most freelancers, putting together business practices that reduce our impact on the environment and help combat climate change is not so easy. A company-wide policy on telecommuting isn’t quite so important when the entire company consists of you.
That doesn’t mean that freelancers can’t think green, though. We can be just as aware of the affects of our work as a business employing thousands.
One of the benefits of freelancing is having more flexibility when it comes to our work. That flexibility can be a benefit when it comes to finding ways to make our work a little greener. For those of us who work at home, we actually have the ability to make overall changes to our lives with a little more ease than someone who has to head off to work every day. Many household chores can use up significant resources, especially electricity.
Freelancing can make even small changes to routines and business practices a little easier to adopt than across a big company: if, for instance, you want to change all the light bulbs in your work space to CFL bulbs, you won’t need to get permission.
Start by considering how you handle your work on a day-to-day basis. If you can measure the amount of electricity you use, along with other resources like power, having a baseline figure can be very useful. Do you leave your computer on while you’re not using it? What about keeping the printer and other peripherals going when you only use them a fraction of the time? Turning electronics off during down time is a simple, yet effective change.
Every freelancer has a few tricks they’ve found for their own workflow. One freelancer will keep mockup designs to a minimum by asking clients to accept all but the last version of a project online. Another might use a laptop for most work because a laptop usually requires less power than a desktop. Many of us already have the advantage of working primarily online, with clients we don’t meet in person — we’ve already eliminated much of the traveling that makes up the average employee’s carbon footprint. It’s just a question of how we can take that a step beyond.
There’s no magic wand for solving climate change, of course. But reducing the resources we need to work, freelancers can also reduce our impact on the environment. The threat of climate change doesn’t just face politicians, big businesses and environmentalists, after all: if every freelancer made a small change in our business practices, we can have a big affect.
For Our Own Good
It’s worth noting that going green isn’t just a matter of fighting climate change. Especially for freelancers, cutting energy use and taking other steps to make our work a little greener can be enough to make a difference in our bottom line.
Where a $50 or $100 difference in a monthly bill might not be a big deal to a corporate office, having that additional money month after month can be a significant difference in a freelancer’s budget. It’s worth reading up on suggestions on how to take further steps on greening your business practices from organizations like the EPA. If you can focus on those changes that can help you cut costs first and foremost, you can help reduce climate change as well as improve your freelance business.
This post is a part of Blog Action Day 2009.