By Shelley Zimmer

Today is Earth Day—a day when the world celebrates the environment and supporting environmental initiatives. As many know, understanding our environmental impact from both a personal and business perspective is essential. Further, as a small business owner or employee, investing in products and technology that reduce your environmental impact not only helps you go green, but can also save you money.

This Earth Day, consider revisiting your business’ recycling and environmental efforts as they relate to technology—not just for today, but your overarching, year-long environmental goals. Your business processes and the technology in which you invest can help you meet your environmental goals, so check out these tech tips for your business:

Don’t Forget to Check Your Tech Hardware. Around the office, plastics and paper aren’t the only items that need recycling. Ultimately, technology like printers, mobile devices and business laptops must be disposed of every five or so years, and you can’t just throw them away—it’s essential to keep environmental consequences and security risks in mind. In fact, 46 percent of organizations blame improper disposal of damaged storage devices by third-party vendors as a top threat to sensitive data.

When disposing of a printer, laptop or mobile device, check to see if recycling, selling or donating the device is an option. Many technology providers offer recycling and donation programs, and will wipe your devices of any sensitive data for you. This can help reduce your technology’s environmental impact, all while being mindful of your business’ sensitive information. If you’re looking to dispose of a device onsite at your office, ask your technology provider if they offer services such as degaussing. This process allows you to wipe any sensitive data from your device’s magnetic media, like a hard drive, before recycling or donating it.

Check Your Tech’s Environmental Impact. When purchasing technology for your office, be sure to check the device’s environmental impact. Whether you’re sprucing up the office with a desk lamp or investing in a new laptop or printer, many of today’s technologies include environmental design features that can save you money. Start by seeking products that offer Energy-Star qualification—these ratings can tell you a technology’s environmental impact. For printing technologies, check for auto on and auto off features—where the device turns on when you need it and off when you don’t. And lastly, before purchasing a technology, specifically printers, check to see if the product manufacturer offers recycling programs for print cartridges to reduce waste.

Share Best Practices with Your Employees. Consider creating a one-page document or short plan to share with your employees around your business’ environmental efforts. Establish a “green team” of employees who may be interested in contributing environmental savings best practices that are specific to your office. Quite often, employees are the best source of environmental savings ideas. Your office green team can encourage other employees to participate in environmental initiatives—even easy reminders like powering down devices and unplugging charges to save energy. This will help you reduce your business’ environmental impact and save money, all while empowering your employees.

Shelley Zimmer is the worldwide environmental leadership program manager of printing supplies at Hewlett-Packard. Shelley’s projects include influencing product design for future environmental features and communicating environmental attributes of products to consumers. Her interest is to move consumers to purchase products that are better for the environment.