7 Tips For a Zero Waste Business

This will probably be a poster I'd never take down. Rest in peace Charlie, may you live on forever in skate spirit.
A poster I’d never take down. Rest in peace Charlie, may you live on forever in skate spirit.

Hi lovelies. I hope you are all well.

Receipts. One of the things that I can’t shake in business. Alternatives I have sourced are:

1) Complaining to my accountant
2) Taking pictures of my receipts
3) Scanning my receipts
4) Googling alternatives to keeping business receipts and then instead of finding solutions, reading about how some cities will not recycle them due to the chemicals – because plain paper is not good enough and we need shiny, thermal BPA receipts instead. FYI: Ottawa has no information on recycling shiny, thermal BPA receipts.

All of which do not allow me to say no to the receipt in the first place. What do I do? Slow down the cash line up by telling the cashier to show me the receipt so I can take a picture of it and then tell her I don’t want it?

Hm. Doesn’t sound that bad…

I like businesses that e-mail you receipts. These are rare. And they mostly want your e-mail to bombard you with ads.
I like businesses that ask you if you want a receipt. Most of the time they’ve printed them already and are hovering over the garbage while you contemplate taking it home instead to recycle it… which then makes you write a post like this.
I like businesses that don’t give receipts at all. Usually these are small businesses if you’ve done a cash transaction because everyone knows cash transactions can be untraceable and don’t exist if a receipt doesn’t.

All of these don’t give me a concrete solution for how to handle receipts in business. So until I come up with a better solution, I have written 7 ways that I’ve changed the way I do business.

1) Send contracts via Docracy.
It’s free to join. It’s free to source templates. You never have to pull out a pen or print paper or meet clients to sign contracts (unless of course they are not computer or internet versed). You can download them once they are executed. You can print them if you must. It keeps everything in one place. I send all of my clients contracts that I’ve created on Docracy.

2) Use an online accounting software.
I use Quickbooks Online. They are fairly new so they have issues but apparently I’m patient and frankly, I don’t want to switch because then I’d have to restart. I use Quickbooks to send estimates, invoices, receipts and share information with my accountant so that she can be less stressed when it comes down to do my taxes. I have an angel for an accountant. I’ve known her since kindergarten and for some reason she likes me enough to answer a barrage of questions and fix my mistakes. It’s great for small businesses and it’s great for tracking transactions once you have your bank accounts linked.

3) Send files via Google Drive or a downloadable link.
Google is amazing and also creepy. They know everything about you. Anyway, most of my clients are ok with me sending photos and videos via Google Drive. I have a few that want their files on CD/DVD. Which is fine. And not at the same time because those things come packaged in plastic. I have managed to only buy 1 pack of CD/DVD’s in the last 3-5 years.

4) If you must print, use both sides.
I have a child who uses the other side of my printed paper to draw on. Otherwise, I have printed on both sides. I try not to print often though. The last thing I printed was last week and was a letter to my landlord about the smell of cigarette smoke coming into my apartment. I feel like I need to petition this – people just shouldn’t be allowed to smoke in apartments. Anyway, I make sure my papers get full usage and then I recycle.

5) Refill your ink cartridges.
If you must print, refill your cartridges. It’s cheaper. Saves the environment. Has less packaging. Takes the same amount of time to refill as it does to go to a store and stand in line and pay.

6) Ditch the business card
Everyone says we need them, so saying no seems wrong and rude. But instead I just ask them for their number or e-mail because “I lose cards and will probably never contact them.” People don’t like to hear that you won’t contact them after they’ve elevator pitched you so they’re happy to stand there while you whip out your smartphone and enter text. I have tons of cards leftover from my last printed batch and will not ever be printing cards again. I actually hate receiving cards and have now come up with an art idea for all of the ones I have accumulated.

7) Bye bye posters
Let’s face it, if you poster the city, the chances of you taking all of them down and recycling all of them is zero to none. I’m guilty of this but I can tell you I won’t print another poster. Printing companies won’t like this and neither will companies who poster, but I’m not in this to make other people happy. First I say ditch the cards and now I say ditch the posters. Why? Unfortunately the papermaking process is not a clean, environmentally friendly one. The amount of money and trees I’ve wasted on posters and flyers… and the amount of waste I’ve seen at weddings alone on all of the beautifully printed menus, invites, programs, tags, etc. only to see them scattered all over the ground with barely a glance and then get tossed in the garbage (NOT recycled) is enough for me to say no. I’ll spend the time personally e-mailing everyone and attach an e-flyer or create an Evite. I’ll spend the time calling people to invite them. Creating Facebook event pages, Instagram and tweeting out an event with all the right hashtags, works. You could also spend the dough on radio ads or printed in the newspaper – but honestly, your mouth and your time is a great source of advertising and creates less waste.

So… that’s all for now.

Do you have ideas for receipts?
What do you do if you are in business?
Let me know if you have any thoughts or tips to add!

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8 thoughts on “7 Tips For a Zero Waste Business

  1. Gosh when you pay can’t they have a credit card thar doubles as some kind of QR code that can act as an email address to avoid receipts or typing an entire email address just to get your receipt, or automatically works with googlepay. Omg new business idea.

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