This post is brought to you by Deborah Sweeney, CEO of

Green offices are a relatively new phenomena, fueled by an understandable concern about our habits and the impact they have on the planet. Unfortunately, that means that many office recycling programs were sort of haphazardly thrown together. Sure, an office may have plopped a recycling bin on the main floor, but that does not immediately turn an office green. The best, possible scenario is to work on making businesses green from the minute they are founded, and while spearheading a recycling program may not be at the top of a startup’s to-do list, a little bit of effort can really go a long way.

Start small

Getting your business up and running is going to be your main concern, and that is fine. Just start designing your workflow with green practices in mind. The biggest source of waste for offices is paper, so that is a good place to begin. In 2010, Americans collectively threw out $2.8 billion worth of paper, recovering only 63.5% of paper produced. That represents a huge drain, and businesses are responsible for a good portion of it – the average office worker will use 10,000 sheets of paper in one year. A new business shouldn’t be using anywhere near that amount, but adopting recycling early on in the business’s life will ensure that, when the business does begin to take off and grow, the recycling program won’t fall to the wayside. And don’t stop at paper. When you have that down, start working on kitchen waste, inkjet cartridges, computer equipment – the more you plan now, the easier it will be to stick to that plan and keep your business green.

Don’t be the office fanatic

When you first start out, your employee roster will probably be you, you, and you, so it’ll be easy to adhere to whatever green policies you set out. But when you begin to hire, remember that you want to involve them with, and not force them to adhere to, the programs already in place. Keep them aware of what you are trying to do, make it easy for them to follow your example by placing recycle bins anywhere garbage is created, and then let them work. You don’t want to be the type of boss that leaves little, passive-aggressive notes on every Coke can someone accidentally puts into the trash. Your green-ification program will be much more sustainable if everyone feels like they are willingly a part of it, instead of being forced to sort twenty different types of recyclable garbage.

Head to the cloud

According to The Paperless Project, a four-drawer filing cabinet that takes up 9 square feet of space can cost a business $1,500 every year! Newer companies won’t be as big as the ones that are actually paying that much to have an antiquated filing system, but if your business grows with that type of system in place, you could find yourself losing a lot of money, along with wasting a lot of paper. Adopting a cloud-based storage system early on in your business’s life, then, is a great investment in both your green initiatives and in the future of your business. You’ll be able to use as little paper as possible and your business will evolve around that cloud-based storage system.

A green beginning means a green future – technology may evolve and recycling may become more efficient, but if you build your business with a green initiatives in mind, your business will continue to make a difference. And all you have to do is start small. Buy a recycling bin, put it next to the trashcan in your office, and make an effort to sort out your garbage when you throw it away. From that simple step you can branch your green initiative into employee outreach, paperless office development, and a more comprehensive recycling program. But that green tomorrow begins with a blue can in your office today.

deborah sweeneyDeborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter at @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.