5 Ways Online Business Owners Can Go Green

Earth Day is celebrated today, and I have a mixed feeling about it. Should I celebrate it with happiness or should I do so with a reflection of what I have done to take part in going green?

go green

Well, to be honest with you, I am not those kind of guys love to celebrate Earth Day. I wasn’t that eco-conscious. However, I do feel that climate change is difficult to ignore; the impact is MASSIVE, and the only way to slow things down, let alone revert it, is by raising awareness – something that organizations like Earth Day Network does.

As an online business owner, it’s about time for me to take part. I feel the need to do so… and I have perks: I work online and it is my endeavour to bring EVERYTHING to the cloud. I want my entire business run online, and I am 90 percent there. Curious enough?

Good – so, what a regular guy like me can do to go green with my online business? Here are the things I have been doing and will do in the near future:

1. Use eco-friendly web hosting

I run websites; they run on web servers of the web hosting companies I sign up with. Just like any other equipment, web servers require electricity to run – a lot. Running web servers emit carbon emissions – a lot. So, get ready for the dull stats: Did you know that, at the current rate, the hosting industry will be more polluting than the airline industry by 2020? (source: Wikipedia.)

Of course, web hosting industry isn’t stay still; some now implement eco-friendly best practices on office; some invest on energy-efficient infrastructure that consume less energy; some others take the ‘easier’ route, purchasing wind energy credits to offset their carbon emissions.

There is also a new breed of hosting providers utilizing cloud computing technology. Cloud hosting is said to run more efficiently than traditional hosting, as resources are accessed on demand, making wastes minimal.

My sites are hosted on 2 green hosting providers, HostGator (100% carbon neutral) and GreenGeeks (300% carbon neutral,) and 1 grid hosting provider, MediaTemple (energy-efficient hosting services incorporating grid computing technology.) I strongly recommend you sign up with them when you need a web hosting to power your small biz website!

2. Go paperless using mobile devices and online services

If you have involved in a retail business like me, you must have been realised that one of the biggest piles of papers is receipts and invoices. If you haven’t, it’s about time for you to ‘upgrade’ your methods of payment by receiving payments via wireless device. Running an online store offering cash-on-delivery? Stop using papers and use a mobile device and mobile payment processing, like Square.

If using paper is inevitable, be sure you handle your receipts better via online services like Shoeboxed. Instead of wasting resources to take care of the receipts, you can virtually eliminate the paper clutter by turning those into digital data and store it securely.

NOW you can do more without paper – which is a great thing.

3. Promote telecommuting

To me, the best perk of being an independent online business owner is my ability to work in location independent manner. I can choose to work from home or anywhere I want.

However, if you have, say, 5 full-time employees running things for you on office, it’s about time for you to look at the possibilities telecommuting can offer you.

I understand that productivity issues are prominent when letting your employees work at home or telecommute from wherever they are, but the right strategy can make it work, and believe it or not, letting your employees to go off-premise will improve their morale and productivity.

And of course, this means you can reduce the costs of running an office – and obviously, reduce overall energy consumption.

4. Optimise your laptop, tablet or smartphone’s energy consumption

In doing business online, you obviously need a device. Although we know that laptops are definitely more energy-efficient than desktops, you can actually do more.

Make sure you optimise the energy saving settings on your laptop, smartphone or tablet. This way, your devices will consume less energy.

5. Work in the cloud

Sign document online, send fax online, do online meeting, make online calls… thanks to the cloud, it’s easy today to bring your business to the cloud. I personally use HelloSign to sign agreements online, Google Calendars to schedule tasks, Paypal to send/receive payments, Mover.io to transfer files, Dropbox to store files, and so on.

Running an office? No problem – there are online collaboration platforms (e.g. Podio,) cloud CRM solutions (e.g. Salesforce,) cloud telephony solutions (e.g. cloud-based PBX from RingCentral,) virtual offices (e.g. Regus)… everything that can help you establish and run a vibrant online office which require no office premise (how about working from your home?)

The best thing for working in the cloud: You don’t have to pay office lease, pay for utility bills required to run a physical office, and so on – cost saving on your side, and be more responsible to the environment; a match made in heaven!


Of course, there are many more ways online business owners can do to be eco-friendlier. Be sure to implement them for the better of your business and the environment.

And remember – make everyday an Earth Day; be sure going green always in your online business’ agenda.

Celebrating Earth Day? Please share how your biz goes green today!

Ivan Widjaya
Founder/Editor BizPenguin.com