Sustainable Practices

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Waste Reduction

Sustainable practices that help reduce waste or divert waste from landfills to achieve positive impacts in the community and environmental health.

Reduce Waste

  • Reduce copying: use electronic distribution to avoid unnecessary document printing, and set copier and printer defaults to two‐sided
  • Regularly update/purge your mailing list to avoid duplication or use marketing materials that require no envelope
  • Use electronic billing methods to invoice customers and receive payment
  • Encourage employees (posted signs or memos) to use reusable lunch bags, food containers, beverage containers, coffee mugs, cutlery, and shopping bags
  • Encourage use of reusable containers or recyclable/compostable containers
  • Offer products without packaging, if possible, or utilize packaging that can be recycled or reused, and decrease the number of products made with excess packaging materials
  • Eliminate the use of polystyrene (Styrofoam) cups and takeout containers in favor of a more biodegradable or recyclable option
  • Reuse packaging and shipping materials such as boxes, envelopes, and packing materials
  • Use reusable rather than disposable products‐ dishes, towels, boxes, bags, or containers
  • Prohibit littering at the workplace (or have a smoke area), including the improper disposal of cigarette butts
  • Store and label all hazardous materials covered, contained, and out of the elements, as well as ensure that these items are turned over for proper recycling, and are not disposed of in the trash


  • Recycle your No. 1 waste product (paper, glass bottles, cardboard boxes, pallets, pallet wrap)
  • Offer plastic bag or other packaging and product recycling for your customers
  • Recycle electronic waste
  • Recycle used cooking oil
  • Recycle building materials during renovation or construction of the buildings
  • Install signs and give instructions on recycling to staff
  • Provide recycling containers and adequate signage for your employees, in food areas, and for customers/clients


Composting is a biological decomposition of organic matter. Decomposition occurs naturally and can be accelerated by microorganisms, worms and insects. These break organic materials into compost, which contains nutrients that, when returned to the soil, are used by plants.

Compost food and/or landscape waste. The following table summarizes which material can and cannot be composted. Contact the sustainability program for more information on resources and rebates for composting at your business.

Table 1. Materials to Compost, Carbon: Nitrogen Ratio and Limitations Associated with Each Material.Source: Composting, University of Arkansas- Division of Agriculture

 Material  C:N  OK?  Comments
Blood meal
4:1  Yes None
Cardboard (C)
170:1  Yes Glue probably organic; less than 10% of the weight of material in the compost pile. Best if shredded.
Coal, barbecue ashes
No nitrogen
 No Contains sulfur dioxide, may harm plants
Coffee grounds (N, P)
20:1  Yes Acidic
Cornstalks, Cobs (C, K)
60:1  Yes Best if chopped up
Cotton gin trash
BUT make sure that farmer did NOT use arsenicals on the cotton. Arsenic can carry over and cause vegetables to grow poorly.
Dishwashing, laundry water
N/A  No Most dishwashing soaps contain perfumes, greases, sodium
Diseased plants
The pile may not get hot enough to kill disease organisms.
Crush; source of calcium
Eggs (whole)
 No Attracts rodents
Fish scraps (N, P)
 No Can attract animals or rodents
Fruit wastes (N)
 Yes BUT can attract flies; bury scraps in a pile.
Grass clippings (N, P, K)
 Yes BUT if lawn is treated with herbicide, leave on the lawn to decompose. Good source of nitrogen when fresh.
Grease, cooking
 No Low in nutrients, attracts animals; may cause odors, slows decomposition
Leaves (C)
 Yes Oak leaves are more acidic
Magazines (C)
No nitrogen
 No Some questions about paper-coating; inks used
Manures (Horse, cow, chicken, pig, sheep, goat, dog, cat, human
Horse manure more likely to contain weed seeds. Compost thoroughly. Dog, cat and human waste may contain disease organisms -- NOT COMPOSTABLE
Newspapers (C)
 170:1  Yes BUT shred for compost; use no more than 10% of weight in a pile
Peanut hulls (C, N, P)
 50:1  Yes BUT can carry Southern blight and nemotodes. Many use successfully.
Pine cones (C)
 N/A  Yes BUT decomposes slowly, acidic. Must be shredded.
Pine needles (C)
 90:1  Yes BUT decomposes slowly, acidic
Rice hulls
 100:1  Yes BUT can have high levels of manganese
Sawdust (C) All EXEMPT black walnut sawdust and pressure-treated lumber sawdust
 500:1  Yes Use in moderate amounts. Add additional nitrogen. Add 1 lb. actual nitrogen (6 cups of ammonium nitrate) for every 100 lbs. of sawdust.
Black walnut sawdust is toxic to the compost pile.
Pressure-treated lumber sawdust contains arsenic.
 80:1  Yes  
Vegetable peelings
 10-12:1  Yes Bury in pile
Wood shavings (C)
 700:1  Yes BUT must add extra nitrogen (see amounts of extra nitrogen under "Sawdust" entry
Wood ashes (P, K)
 No nitrogen
 No Not recommended but could use the very limited amount as a lime source; do NOT exceed 1 cup wood ashes for each bushel of the compost pile. Highly alkaline, possibility of some heave metal content. 

Water Efficiency

Sustainable practices that help reduce water use in your business. Water conservation is important because fresh, clean water is a limited resource.

Energy Efficiency

Sustainable practices that help reduce electricity and natural gas use in your business


Sustainable practices that help reduce the fossil fuels usage by your business.

Public Awareness/Education

Sustainable practices that promote sustainability to your customers and employees.

  • Involve employees in developing your sustainable business plan and include their input
  • Establish a “sustainability committee” of employees to make the sustainable business plan and to identify new strategies regularly
  • Require custodial services to follow environmental best practices while in your facility
  • Attend training/information sessions on sustainable practices
  • Encourage "sustainable" practices by your customers/clients
  • Participate in local green/sustainability events
  • Increase employee engagement in sustainability. Read tips on how your business can increase engagement (Xternal link).

Social Responsibility

Sustainable practices that are socially responsible to your customers and employees.

  • Implement programs that support employees and/or their families. Examples include: childcare assistance, emergency rental assistance, professional development opportunities, wellness activities, navigator services
  • Implement healthy living measures in the business and for customers (e.g., smoke‐free work environment, healthy food selections to employees/customers, offer free/reduced gym memberships, encourage employees to walk/bike more, etc.)
  • Learning how to diversify the workforce and provide livable wages and other benefits
  • Ensure equitable hiring practices
  • Support a local charity, nonprofit, event or organization that benefits the community as a whole, and/or a specific segment of the community such as seniors, youth, veterans, persons with disabilities, those experiencing homelessness, minorities, etc.
  • Support/promote social sustainability for your customers. Examples include:
    • Welcoming and respecting customers and employees of varying backgrounds and identities
    • Supporting healthy choices for customers
    • Offering programs for low‐income persons, discounts for nonprofits, incentives for participating in your support for community organizations
    • Offering communications in multiple languages, having an accessible space for customers with disabilities, senior friendly
    • Create employment opportunities for underemployed groups – seniors, formerly incarcerated, youth, etc.
  • Hire local workers

Commitment to Local Economy

Sustainable practices that support the economic vitality of your business and community.

  • Participate in the Longmont Startup Week (Xternal link).
  • Purchase from local, fair trade, living wage, and/or minority/veteran/woman‐owned businesses
  • Learn more about the benefits of using locally produced products in the business supply chain
  • Sustainable purchasing (e.g., purchase certified sustainable products and products from local vendors)
  • Learn about City’s loan programs and services for small business
  • Mentor local entrepreneurs and new businesses
  • Offer job training or apprenticeships for local residents
  • If applicable, learn more about green tourism initiatives
  • Learn about the potential impacts of climate change on business practices, supply chain, etc.
  • Learn how City’s tax incentives support sustainable design. Current incentives are directed to a variety of activities including manufacturing, R&D, new construction or tenant finish and personal property investment. Also, state incentives can be included such as employee training and job creation grants.
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