You legitimately care about the environment and climate change, but as a small business owner, you also care about your bottom line. It’s not always easy to balance the two, but there are a few simple changes you can implement now — along with some investments to consider down the line.
Ban plastic bottles
Not only do plastic bottles create waste to the tune of 22 billion bottles per year, an investigation by Fredonia State University of New York found that 93 percent of bottled water showed some sign of microplastic contamination. What’s a studio to do? It may be time to invest in a water bottle filling station, if you haven’t already. Beyond its positive impact on the environment, getting rid of water bottles leaves you with one less thing you need room to store when space is at a premium.
Buy cloth instead of paper towels
Every day, 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is created in the U.S. alone. That’s 51,000 trees that have been cut down and six million gallons of water used to create that waste. A simple switch? Go luxe with organic reusable cloth towels or buy inexpensive cotton washcloths or rags instead. Better yet, collect used towels to DIY your own washcloth collection.
Green the clean
Whether you’re cleaning the studio yourself or you have a cleaning crew, consider switching the products being used from harsh chemicals to more eco-friendly ones. For example, alkylphenol ethoxylates, a common ingredient in cleaners, has been proven to function as an “endocrine disruptor,” causing potentially adverse reproductive side effects. Natural cleaners don’t have to be expensive to be effective — white vinegar and tea tree oil does wonders for keeping the studio space fresh. Companies such as Branch Basics offer one concentrate that can be diluted with different ratios of water to tackle every cleaning job — from bathroom mirrors and shower grout to yoga mats and free weights.
Create a commuter benefit
If you live in an area that’s commuter-friendly, incentivize members to walk, carpool or bike to their workouts rather than drive solo. Create a challenge around the initiative and offer prizes or rewards clients who do so regularly.
Eco-friendly can be listed on almost any label, but the truth can be a bit more complicated — it’s important to do your research if you’re really trying to go green. Read labels (specifically the ingredients list) and start a running list of chemicals or additives to avoid. This applies to nearly everything you buy, from studio equipment to snacks. Purchasing safer supplies not only keeps your clients safe but contributes to good environmental stewardship. Suga, Manduka and CAP are all brands that create environmentally equipment. If you’re looking for some sustainable threads to sell in your studio’s merch section, look no further than brands like Prana, Patagonia, Beloforte and Rumi X Feel Good — all companies who sell goods made from recycled materials.
Get that green
If you’re looking to spruce up your studio a bit and keep it environmentally friendly, try adding plants. Potted plants are effective at eliminating VOCs (volatile organic compounds, which may occur in building materials like paint, carpet or composite wood products) from the air. Some plants to consider include ferns, spider plants and palm trees. A good guideline to start with is one plant per 100 square feet of space.
Use a smart thermostat
A thermostat like the Nest Learning Thermostat will monitor your energy usage and then adjust itself accordingly, setting itself to an Eco Temperature to save energy when you’re not in the studio. It uses sensors and your phone’s location to check if you’ve left the studio. If it notices the studio temperature is usually 72 degrees from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., it will set the temperature accordingly during those times, saving you both energy and money.
Power your studio through your equipment
If you’re a gym or studio that has cardio machines, you’re in a great place to cut down on energy use and costs. Some studios have outfitted their bikes and treadmills with devices that return the energy created back to the gym’s electricity supply or used machines from a company called SportsArt. The generators attached to the bikes turn a turbine, which creates electricity that can be used within the gym.
Look at the floor
Whether you operate a yoga studio, CrossFit gym or dance studio, you know just how important flooring can be to your clients and their fitness goals. We don’t recommend tearing out your floor just because, but if you’re building a new studio or have been in the market for new flooring anyway, consider recycled rubber. Over the course of a year, nearly a billion tires will be sent to refills. Though rubber is durable, these materials aren’t biodegradable. However, recycled rubber floors are great to use in gyms, especially in high-sweat areas that might otherwise be slippery.
Whatever changes you make, just remember that you don’t have to make them all at once — one small change still helps!