If you haven’t seen or heard yet, today is Earth Day!
The origins of this important holiday date back to 1970, when a senator from Wisconsin, Senator Gaylord Nelson, grew concerned about the deteriorating environment in the United States. After witnessing the massive oil spill in California the year prior, Senator Nelson announced the idea for a teach-in on college campuses in hopes of sparking public consciousness about air and water pollution.
The effort eventually broadened in scope to include various organizations and groups. Earth Day inspired 20 million Americas – at the time, only 10-percent of the total population of the U.S. -- to take to the streets, parks, and classrooms to demonstrate against the impacts of industrial development.
“Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urban dwellers and farmers, business and labor leaders,” says the official Earth Day website, earthday.org.
That day led to multiple passages of laws and acts that have protected millions of people and species. And in 1990, the Earth Day campaign went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries. Today, Earth Day is a widely recognized and celebrated event, with the website saying it’s the largest secular observance in the world. And the fight for a cleaner, greener environment continues.
In the equipment and rental industries, we’ve already seen green initiatives make an impact. I just recently wrote an article on how lithium-ion battery trends are changing the aerial lift market, promoting a real alternative to diesel. In fact, innovations like hybrid technologies, zero-emission diesel engines, and batteries are continuing to change the equipment industry, altering the rental market’s future for the better.
Manufacturers across all industries have even joined the movement. Hilti just recently announced that they’re ramping up their sustainability efforts, focusing on tasks like their CO2 neutrality in their value chain, using more renewable energy sources, aiding in long-term health and safety of construction workers, and charity involvement.
TVH in the Americas, Olathe, Kansas, installed solar panels on their new 250,000-square-foot warehouse at their headquarters. In the first year, TVH is projecting a CO2 emissions reduction of nearly 3,495,000 pounds. Over the next 25 years, TVH’s projected reduction in CO2 emissions is estimated to be over 79,000,000 lbs., decreasing operating costs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
What these examples prove is that change starts with action. And you don’t have to install solar panels on your rental business to make a difference or be more eco-friendly. Though it can be daunting to zero- in on specific ways to better your business, small steps are better than none and it’s worth it in the long run.
In a 2019 article in Forbes, Natalie Parletta, a freelance science writer, said, “Going green has several other benefits for companies. These include tax credits and incentives, improved efficiency, healthier workplaces, and cost savings – for instance by printing less, turning lights off in unused rooms and refilling ink cartridges. Reusing items also reduces waste from plastic packaging.”
And as TVH in the Americas said in their article, Why Your Rental Business Should Consider Going Green, “Ensuring your company is capable of adapting with the times can be one of the most effective ways to remain relevant and competitive in the industry.”
Here are a few ways your rental business can go green:
1. Get your employees involved! This can mean creating a committee of employees from various departments throughout the business, education, running contests, offering rewards, implementing meetings and parties, etc. Getting your team involved creates a more involved atmosphere, while also allowing your employees to feel like they’re making a difference. And on the plus side, a lot of job seekers are attracted to companies that care for the environment.
2. Start small. You don’t have to jump into installing solar panels or purchasing electric vehicles. Think about starting a recycling program throughout the business or switching from paper to electronic methods. Maybe eliminate the single-cup coffee maker in the kitchen.
3. Speaking of... Recycle! Have recycling bins readily available around your business and urge your employees to recycle their byproducts. Use signage to alert your customers to the bins and what goes inside them, too.
4. Use more eco-friendly materials. There are plenty of “green” products on the market today and they’re more cost-conscious than years past. Switch from plastic to paper or try compostable cups and plates in the kitchen.
5. Buy eco-friendly cleaning products. There are tons of options in stores today that offer more environmentally friendly cleaning properties and recyclable containers. Try to make the switch to better increase your carbon footprint! A small step can be switching from regular plastic trash bags to biodegradable ones that are certified compostable. The average plastic trash bag takes 10 years to disintegrate in a landfill. Biodegradable certified compostable trash bags take three to six months!
6. Switch to LED lightbulbs. These bulbs tend to produce less heat, so they can last up to 17 years if used for only eight hours a day.
7. No more plastic water bottles! Eliminate this harmful and damaging practice from your rental business by advocating for reusable water bottles, water fountains, filtered water dispensers, etc. In the same sense, try and reduce your water waste by making sure you have updated fixtures, updated toilets, and more.
8. Install efficient heating and cooling systems. This one might seem a little more expensive, but by switching to a smart thermostat, you can control the heating and cooling from your phone or computer, reducing expenses and saving energy.
9. No more paper towels. Transitioning from paper towels to hand dryers in bathrooms will help make a huge contribution toward a more environmentally friendly rental business.
10. Get an energy audit. To find out more ways to make your business more eco-friendly, you can sign up for a no-cost business energy audit. A quick search can show your state’s policies and programs.
Using any of these steps, and investigating further examples, is guaranteed to help your rental business be more responsible, eco-friendly, and sustainable. Not only will it boost morale, offer cost-savings, and boost your reputation, but it will also benefit the future. And who doesn’t want that?