Save Green: Non-Profit Recycling

November 17th, 2010   |  

Non-profit organizations are known for being thrifty, but what about being green? Believe it or not, the two go hand-in-hand.

The first step to starting a green movement is establishing a recycling committee, with two or three people heading the initiative. The committee should audit the organization’s operations, set up eco-friendly solutions and promote the change to all appropriate audiences. Non-profits with sustainable operations earn more than just a happy feeling; streamlined production strengthens the economy and helps grow the bottom line.

Going green is good for the economy. Recycling in the U.S. is a $236 billion a year industry. More than 56,000 recycling and reuse enterprises employ 1.1 million workers annually (Top Ten). Recycling doesn’t have to be a one man job. Non-profits who reach out to local organizations and get involved in their green community find a second audience to spread their message. Increased participation leads to increased interest in their organization.

Simple cost-saving changes to an organization’s operations add up to big savings. Some are no-brainers, such as replacing disposable office items with reusable ones (dry-erase boards, tableware, and wall calendars), swapping out regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (they cost two to three times more, but last up to 10 times longer and use two-thirds the energy of a conventional bulb), and purchasing condiments and supplies (milk, sugar, toilet paper, and hand soap) in bulk. Most of these changes require little to no up-front investment other than a mindful employee and a little time.

Other tips and tricks include reconsidering the dress code (turn the thermostat down a bit in the winter and encourage sweaters, and turn it up in the summer and encourage short-sleeves) and revising the mailing list (if someone hasn’t responded in the past three years, they’re probably not interested). Sending information to only the interested will save trees, time and money. These little changes may seem small, but can have a large impact over time.

In short, sustainable operations are good for the environment, the economy and the organization’s bottom line. There are a number of ways a non-profit can save time and money making the switch to eco-friendly operations. For a full list of cost-saving alternatives, please contact your local recycling agency or visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website at


“Green Nonprofits Certification Application.” GreenNonprofits. GreenNonprofits, 2010. Web. 27 Aug. 2010. <>

Cefola, Jackie. “TSNE – NonProfit Center – Tips for Going Green.” TSNE – Non-profit Capacity Building, Leadership & Management Support. Third Sector New England, 2010. Web. 27 Aug. 2010. <>.

Hart, Ted, Adrienne D. Capps, and Matthew Bauer. “Nonprofit Guide to Going Green.”Scribd. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2010. Web. 27 Aug. 2010. <>.

Kennen, Estela. “How to Be a Green Non-profit: Things Your Organization Can Do to save the Environment.” Online Magazine and Writers’ Network. 20 Apr. 2007. Web. 27 Aug. 2010. <>.

“Money Saving Tips for Your Nonprofit.” – Taking Non Profits To The Next Level., 2010. Web. 27 Aug. 2010. <>.

“Top Ten Reasons to Recycle.” SOCRRA: Community Partners in Recycling and Waste. National Recycling Coalition, Apr. 2009. Web. 27 Aug. 2010.

Posted in News.
Related Articles