Anyone with even half an eye on what’s happening with the environment and climate can’t help but realise our attitude to disposable goods is a big part of the problem.
Finding ways to complete mundane tasks in a greener way often makes small improvements that can turn into big ones when enough people also make changes.
Eco-Friendly Cloud Accounting
We do so much with cloud computing without thinking about it that running family accounts in the cloud will be an easy switch for most people. If you have an Internet account, you likely have free cloud storage through your provider, and you can use this for far more than family photos.
Alternatives to the data storage space that comes from your ISP include Dropbox or Google Drive. The advantage of using one of these services is that they stay the same even if your Internet provider changes.
- Scan or photograph receipts you want to keep and upload the digital files instead.
- Use Excel or Google Sheets to keep tabs on daily spending.
- Start a subscription with online accounting software (Freeagent or Quickbooks are two examples and there are several more) if your accounting needs are more complex than simple income and expenses.
Mobile banking apps and the ability to easily move money between accounts all make staying on top of the family budget easier, without resorting to using more paper or adding to landfill.
Greener Tax Returns
Anyone who runs a business or who has income that doesn’t come from straight employment where all tax and national insurance is dealt with by their employer, needs to file a tax return.
That invariably means lots of paperwork, storage and endless numbers of receipts and invoices. Aside from business accounts, you might also have income that comes from investments, dividends, inheritances or stocks and bonds that you need to inform HMRC about.
If you find you’re faced with a mass of paperwork every time you come to file a return, switch to doing it online. The online submission process is very streamlined and easy these days, and you can even include digital files for some documentation if you need to back up your claims.
For those who do have more complicated accounting, bookkeepers and accountants can save more than they cost in the long run. They can advise you how to set up your accounts so you minimise your physical paper and have a more organised system.
A Green Home Office
Adopting a greener lifestyle not only means generating less waste, it also means finding ways to use fewer resources in the first place. The two go hand in hand.
- Install solar window coatings. They can help conserve or reduce heat, keeping rooms more comfortable and energy efficient. There are also window films that increase privacy and safety, as well as reducing fading from sunlight, so your furniture and carpets look fresh for longer too.
- Use energy efficient bulbs in desk and overhead lamps. It’s also a good idea to install motion sensors so lights turn off when they’re no longer needed.
- Shun filing cabinets in favour of digital document storage.
If the companies you deal with offer digital versions of documents, take them up on the offer. Examples could include getting your bank statements online, opting for PDF, print on demand versions of car and other insurances, or switching magazine subscriptions to email versions rather than paper ones.
We’re not quite at the stage yet where the office (or home) is completely paperless, but we’re getting there. The more of us who reject paper documents in favour of digital versions, the more the companies we deal with will also reduce their paper usage and that will be good for all of us, and the environment.
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