10 Steps To Make Your Startup Eco-friendly and As Champions of Sustainability

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Arctic Ice is disappearing and is expected to be gone by 2070, that is as much ice that has melted on Earth’s surface in last 670,000 years will melt away within 1940 to 2070. A big reason for that acceleration in the last 5 decades is - as human race we have increased our appetite for consumption, and whatever the West was doing in itself is cataclysmic. Now, since we have jumped the Hindu rate of growth to get almost double digit in the last decade, with our huge number we have put our foot on the gas, helping to travel faster to hit the unavoidable wall. But that puts us in an interesting dilemma, the great run of growth that we are enjoying is empowering millions of folks every year to a greater quality of life, at the same time it’s vandalizing the world that our future generations will live in. As of now there is no solution to reverse the growing fever that our planet is suffering from, but yes we can help slow it down. As startups we dream day and night to change the world, and we should take up the responsibility of changing the world to be a better place to live in too with our ideas and ways. Whatever product or service we are working on we should make sustainability a permanent feature of our business. Following are some simple ways for converting our startups into “sustainability champions”.
  1. Multipoint servers where a number of engineers can use a single workstation computer with multiple monitors and peripherals attached is a new technology, but with correct backup and recovery strategy this can be used in any heavy lifting programming environment. There are both Windows and Linux options available for this. Using multipoint servers will decrease energy usage per unit hour worked, decreasing your carbon footprint while saving on power and equipment bills too.
  2. Encourage employees to live closer to office. Except a few cities, it’s possible to make it work at most places. Lesser commute time will ensure that team arrives less fatigued to office. Overall lesser miles travelled on hydrocarbon power will bring smiles on mother earth’s face.
  3. In office make it cool to use personal water bottles and coffee mugs. Most startups give away coffee mugs as schwab, but my little research shows they are infrequently used by employees, because the clean up is a little uncool activity. When everyone does it, it’s not uncool anymore.
  4. Ask your suppliers especially food and pantry to use as much reusable crockery and utensils as possible keeping hygiene a priority.
  5. Print the advantages of taking the stairs on your entry card. And yes lead by example, CEO must always use the stairs.
  6. Use cloud based documentation software with wiki, annotation and note taking features. This will replace paper in most occasions that it is conventionally used for.
  7. Encourage workers to work regular hours. HVAC systems are by far the most power guzzling parts of your operation. With regular hours you can adopt start and stop times for A/C without causing discomfort at workplace.
  8. While shopping keep cradle to cradle in mind. For example if you have to choose between two chairs one made of carbon fiber, the other of aluminum. Both may cost the same but the aluminum is preferable because at the end of its life it can be melted to form some other thing with minimal dissipation.
  9. If you are an e-commerce company, factor reusability and sustainability into your business model. Innovate your packaging to use less material, use reusable material and encourage your customers to ship back collections of packaging material to you. Remember some stuff don’t need any packaging while shipping, ask your customers to choose if they want to get their item unpackaged.
  10. Online meeting and collaborating tools are replacing travel to a great extent. But whenever we travel we waste more per unit time in comparison to when we don’t. One simple example often I will check into a hotel room for 2 hours and may just use one carefully sized up towels present in the room but I’m sure when I checkout the hotel staff will overhaul and clean everything in the room, which in some cases is needed and in others wasteful. Feel little guilty when you travel.

The steps above are observations from some of our practices at Muvi.com, and using them is your personal choice. But common sense says they will help and even if you don’t use the above pointers, use this post as little break to think about how to make our planet better for everyone. Please, write to me if you have any interesting ideas on this.

About the Author

Sanjib Kumar Parida is Director of Engineering, Muvi.com. Apart from product design and making bits fly through servers, he loves to teach students their first lessons in using a computer as the chief mentor of Touch10K with a goal to give basic computer training to 10,000 students who currently don't have the access or resources to do so. He is active on twitter @codemonsoon

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