Greening Your Nonprofit: How to make small changes that will reduce your environmental impact

Emily Holder
Emily Holder

Emily Holder

With the ever growing demands and challenges small organizations face, being a good steward of the environment is rarely at the top of the list. However, “greening” your nonprofit can save you operating costs and promote a healthier work environment, making your organization sustainable and productive.

While most people are environmentally aware, initiating new policies and practices within an organization to promote sustainable efforts can be daunting. However, taking small steps to ensure your organization is doing its part to protect the environment is worthwhile and simpler than you may think.


Go Green: Place recycle bins or boxes at each person’s desk and have someone collect them each week. Also be sure to reuse paper scraps for notes and limit printing when possible.

Go Greener: If you already recycle, start a community compost bin in your office’s kitchen. Collect the scraps at the end of the week and take them to a local compost site or have someone in the office compost them. When the compost is ready, use it for plants around the office.


Go Green: Take a regular inventory of office supplies so that you don’t purchase anything you already have or don’t really need. You can also purchase supplies in bulk to cut down on excess packaging.

Go Greener: Refill existing ink cartridges rather than buying new ones. Also consider switching to biodegradable cleaning supplies and sustainably sourced paper products.


Go Green:  Use power strips for multiple cords at your desk and switch them off at the end of the day or when not in use to reduce phantom load.

Go Greener: Switch out light bulbs for energy saving compact fluorescent light bulbs instead.


Go Green: Carpool or take public transportation as often as possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Go Greener: Bike, walk, or telecommute. When you have the time and the option, biking, walking, or telecommuting can reduce stress and make you more productive throughout the day.


Go Green: Bringing your lunch from home means one less trip in the car and produces less waste compared to a to-go order.

Go Greener: When having a lunch meeting or working lunch, purchase food from local sources. The ingredients are fresh and it reduces your carbon footprint. Also try buying organic or locally roasted coffee, which use fewer chemicals during processing.

While going green does take an initial investment of time and resources, it will benefit your organization in the long run and deserves some time and attention.

 Emily Holder is serving as Creative and Marketing Manager for the Philanthropy Journal. She is a recent graduate from North Carolina State University with a major in Psychology and minor in Nonprofit Studies. 

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