‘Green Finance’

Cheap loans available for small to medium enterprises

You have probably heard about the recent announcements from the UK government about its new lending scheme designed to make borrowing a little easier for small to medium businesses throughout Britain.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds are two of the first high-street banks to really offer anything meaningful to business owners using this scheme. Both banks have redesigned their own lending schemes to be more attractive and beneficial to small businesses across the country.

At the time of writing, business secretary Vince Cable is still to announce all the details about the lending schemes, but what is on offer to small and medium businesses forms part of a new industrial strategy being deployed by the coalition government.

All this time the government has allowed SMEs in the UK to struggle and forced them to account for every penny, whether it is on consumables for their workforces or trying to find cheaper business electricity from sites like Make It Cheaper, businesses have really been hit hard.

So what is on offer for them now?

RBS has launched its own manufacturing fund which offers lower borrowing rates for businesses as well as variable loan rates for any amount between £250,000 and £25million.

There is also a further option to defer any capital repayment on these loans for up to two years. This could be an answer to many cash flow prayers of some small businesses as they look to build on their initial successes but are struggling to generate the capital to make it stick.

The other main bank, Lloyds, are running what they are calling a ‘Funding for Lending’ scheme, which also makes good use of the government’s overall scheme and also comes with a much more flexible loan amount.

Anything from £1,000 upwards is what you can borrow from Lloyds and it is not sector specific so theoretically it can cater to any size of business.

There also seem to be rumours of other high street banks preparing deals to help out smaller companies.

This is probably to show a friendlier face to a sector that has suffered very much at their hand since the economic downturn and some quarters possibly feel cut off and abandoned by the banks during that time.

These grants are aimed at making lending easier for businesses that historically have struggled to borrow any meaningful amounts. However, these changes and lending schemes do feel like ‘too little, too late’ for many of the small businesses who feel they could have done with such help at least a year ago, although it is a step in the right direction.

A spokesperson for makeitcheaper.com, a site designed to help SMEs save money, said: “Could the tide finally be turning for SMEs’ access to finance?

“In the past few days we’ve seen RBS and Lloyds launch their funding for lending schemes. At an SME event we hosted last week, Dr Cable said that businesses should be looking beyond the high street because the old fashion banking model is broken.

“He referenced Handelsbanken and Aldermore as being lesser known banks but perhaps more SME-friendly.”

 

Environmental Tips for Business

There are various ways in which you can ensure that your business is environmentally friendly and many organisations are working towards greater ‘green’ credentials as part of their business practices.

Accreditations

There are plenty of green accreditations that help businesses to train staff in environmentally friendly practices. They can also help reduce the organisational carbon footprint through local supply chains and intelligent logistics, increase recycling and generally encourage firms to take a more responsible approach to their business operations. Many of these are offered on a not-for-profit basis and successful organisations will not only get support to work through the framework, but also accreditations if they are successful in doing so. There are numerous accreditations and customers greatly value them.

Green purchasing, logistics and operations

One of the biggest areas for focus is the company’s business operations. With purchasing, there are a number of easy wins to reduce the carbon footprint and become more eco-friendly. For example, a business can commit to buying environmentally-friendly building materials and ensuring that they purchase recycled components, such as recycled flooring materials for their offices. They might use sustainable wood or recycled composite woods in their production processes. They might source local materials and cut carbon miles through long deliveries. They might join local group-buying schemes to boost the competitiveness of local suppliers and they might also link with local businesses to share deliveries and ensure that lorries only go on deliveries when they are full.

They may use recycled packaging and commit to using digital logistics approaches to move away from paper and create a more efficient and less resource-demanding management approach.

Staff training is another important area. Businesses that seek to train their staff in environmental practices will find that they tap into a natural source of creativity and innovation for the green agenda. For example, staff might start a local biking co-operative and leave their cars at home, start a local organic fruit and veg box scheme for the office kitchen or commit to recycling more at work.

They might also insist on using energy-efficient light bulbs, switching off electrical equipment at the end of the day and starting community schemes that take on the broader mantle of corporate social responsibility and really demonstrate positive impact in the community.

These actions will have positive repercussions, not just for the environment and staff, but also in terms of cost savings from more efficient management practices and marketing, as many customers actively seek out companies that demonstrate strong environmental credentials and a positive role in the community in which they operate.

Daley has a keen interest in the environment and enjoys writing about how businesses and homes can be more green in their ways. He works with Ecotile Flooring.

Going Green For Your Health and Finances

We’re all well aware of what our carbon footprint is and how much we’re meant to be working to protect our planet but there are other benefits for a greener lifestyle. Saving energy is also good for your pocket as well as your waist band so if you don’t believe in saving planet what about doing your mind body and spirit a favour?

Transportation

As a nation we love our cars, fuel prices are getting higher and higher coupled with rising insurance premiums and maintenance costs it’s not cheap. It’s also not great for the environment or your heart.
• Do you have to drive to work? Do you live within a 15 minute car journey? In which case there are plenty of other ways you could get to work without adding much time to your journey, cycling or walking are the most obvious and for many city workers, cycling to work is actually quicker than sitting in all that stand still traffic.
• In the UK the government is running a cycle scheme to help employees purchase a good quality bike and the safety gear tax free, it’s worth asking your employers if they’d be interested in participating in the scheme.
• Car sharing is a great way to save some cash, if you work in a smaller office and no one live near you check out sites like gum tree for car sharers on your journey. This doesn’t just have to apply to work, are there any other parents dropping their kids off at the same school near you?

Food

There are so many ways you can go green with the food you cook and eat and it’s going to help your waist band as well as your pocket. Fast foods are great as a once in a while treat but they’re no friend to the environment and they’re not doing your health or finances any good either.
• Cook – this one really isn’t rocket science, the more you’re cooking from scratch the healthier it’s going to be and the cheaper it’s going to be too. Don’t waste money on packet made sauces, they’re full of additive and preservatives and come in unnecessary packaging. Cooking from scratch means you’re using the original ingredients. Herbs and spices can be mixed to create any flavour so experiment to suit your own tastes.
• When you’re cooking a proper meal always cook double so you’ve got another meal that can be frozen so next time you don’t feel like cooking a meal from scratch you don’t have to resort to a ready meal
• If you’re feeling particularly hungry fill up on salad and greens instead of starches or chips. They’re better for you and usually come in much less packaging

Clothes

Whether you follow fashion and have a wardrobe of up to the minute styles or you just prefer to have a few staples that get worn over again, next time you’re throwing something away really think about it.
• Give your wardrobe a good spring clean once a year, if you haven’t worn it for over 12 months the chances are it’s not going to be worn again. Donate it to a local charity shop or if it’s in really bad condition take it to a clothes recycling bank instead of sending it to landfill.
• If you’re handy with a sewing machine and needle and thread, convert your old clothes into something new, a simple t shirt or plain shirt can be customised in minutes. If you’re stuck for inspiration check out sites like Pinterest which are full of really easy ways to give old clothes a new lease of life
• If you’re throwing something away because it really is past its best think about how else that material could be used. It takes less than ten minutes to turn an old bed sheet into an apron or if nothing else, rags always come in handy around the home and there’s no need to be buying these brand new from the shops.

BusinessEnergy.com help small businesses save on their energy tariffs making sure their bills and carbon footprints are as small as possible

How to Do Your Banking the Eco Friendly Way

As the world continues to harness the wonders of technology, a growing number of people are searching for ways to balance the convenience of modern advancements with their desire to protect the environment. Previous leaps forward in technology typically resulted in great damage being done to the natural world, but today, responsible people have it in their power to prevent environmental destruction by making responsible choices. One of the easiest ways to contribute to the preservation of the natural world is to begin conducting your banking in a more eco friendly way.

As a nation of more than 300 million citizens, most of which rely on banking to get through their everyday lives, traditional paper based banking is simply an obsolete and unsustainable model. The onslaught of paper bank statements, checks and bills that swamp the typical American presents a tremendous threat to the health of the environment. Massive deforestation is the necessary evil lurking behind the paper based model, and fortunately for the green movement, the advent of the internet has provided a perfect vehicle to inspire a shift from paper based banking to electronic banking.

You can do your banking the eco friendly way simply by contacting your financial institutions and requesting that your bank statements and other correspondence be delivered via email rather than traditional mail. Many banks actually offer incentives to customers who convert from paper based banking because they stand to save money on postage fees and other costs. You can also begin utilizing your bank’s online bill paying features to pay all of your utility, mortgage, insurance and other bills directly over the internet. Instantaneous transfers from your bank account can be delivered to creditors in a matter of seconds, saving you the hassle of trying to keep track of which bills have cleared and which have not. Online banking is a powerful tool to have at your disposal, and contrary to many outdated opinions on the service, you can conduct your online banking from a home computer safely and securely.

Banking the eco friendly way is simply a matter of making the responsible choice and forgoing outmoded models in favor of environmentally safe methods. By banking over the internet, you can easily reduce the amount of paper waste you personally contribute by a significant amount. Smaller banks and credit unions, which have become increasingly popular with the public following the recent big bank scandals, even offer eco friendly plans which require no paper usage whatsoever. Through a combination of online services, E-Mortgage Calculator, smart phone applications and debit card technology, these banks make a concerted effort to remove paper products from their business model. If you want to make sure that you are banking the eco friendly way, take the time to research the most environmentally responsible financial institutions in your area. By giving your patronage to banks that have committed to environmental fidelity, you will gain peace of mind in knowing that your money is not used to support the degradation of the natural world.

 

5 Major Water Wasters in the Home

From a water conservationist’s point of view, it may seem like every home appliance that uses or delivers water is designed to waste it. The toilet runs. The faucet drips. The dishwasher churns through an ocean of water only to leave dirty dishes in its wake …

The good news is that with a little foresight and the bare minimum of effort people can greatly reduce their water use in the home, saving both money and the planet in the process. Keeping an eye on these five water wasters will help keep water and wages from slipping down the drain.

1. The At-Home Car Wash

Believe it or not, the amount of water wasted when washing a car at home is all about the length and diameter of the hose. Different-sized hoses use different amounts of water pressure to deliver the desired level of spritz at the nozzle.

Also unbelievable is that most business-operated car washes – including self-clean bays – use less water than what is used at home. This is because water is an expense for these businesses, and the less that is used, the higher the profit margin.

The Verdict: Take cars to the car wash. It’s still cheap, it’s convenient and it uses less water.

2. The Dishwasher

Dishwashers tend to get a bad rap when it comes to water conservation, but there are four important variables to consider when deciding whether using a dishwasher uses more water than washing by hand: the type of dishwasher, the size of the load, temperature and the method of hand washing used.

The best high-efficiency dishwashers on the market today can use as little as three gallons per load, which no hand-washing method can beat. On the other hand, ahem, a person who hand washes dishes without leaving the water running can beat the “average” dishwasher. The really tricky thing to consider, though, is the heat of the water … because heating water uses water in more ways than at the spigot.

The Verdict: It depends. Use a high-efficiency dishwasher with full loads when possible; otherwise, hand wash with warm water and the drain plugged.

3. The Sprinklers

This is the number-one culprit of water waste around the home. Experts estimate that as much as 50% of water used on residential lawns is wasted through runoff or evaporation, which is an incredible amount of water considering a single lawn sprinkler can use as much as 600 gallons an hour.

Fortunately, people who use sprinklers can cut back in several different ways:

• Use efficient low-flow sprinklers

• Install a drip irrigation system to conserve water

• Water the lawn less frequently

• Use sprinklers at dawn and/or dusk, when evaporation is less likely to occur

• Skip the lawn watering altogether

Of course, that last option is a somewhat extreme suggestion, but it is a practical one for people who live in communities facing water shortages or drought conditions.

The Verdict: If one must water the lawn, try using a combination of the aforementioned suggestions, and always heed local restrictions on lawn watering.

4. The Pool

An average 400 sq. ft. pool loses almost 20,000 gallons of water a year through evaporation alone. Add to that an estimate that 30% of the nation’s pools have substantial leaks at any given point in time, and water conservation in this area starts to look like a problem.

Pool owners can do their part by investing in a pool cover to help with evaporation, and to do regular checkups to make sure any cracks are sealed. It also helps to keep the temperature down in heated pools, because heating water usually contributes to more water use down the line.

The Verdict: Keep it caulked, cool and covered to save the most water.

5. The Toilet

On a daily basis, the toilet is the biggest water waster inside the home. Toilet flushing accounts for an average of 26.7% of a home’s indoor water use. And, if it’s running it can waste as much as 200 extra gallons a day.

A new high-efficiency toilet can be expensive to buy and install, but there are other things families can do to cut down on water waste in the bathroom.

• “If it’s yellow, let it mellow”

• Don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket

• Check for leaks

• Don’t let it run

The craftier water conservationist may also fill a bottle or two with sand (to weigh it down) and water then put it in the toilet tank to displace water, so that when the toilet refills up after a flush it takes less water.

The Verdict: Try a conservation method that’s comfortable, but at the very least listen for and fix running toilets. It’s quick and easy, and saves a lot of water.

This article was written by James Madeiros who writes for Seametrics, a manufacturer of water flow meters that help conserve water.

Eco Friendly Ways to Earn Extra Money From Home

If you are an environmentally conscious individual who finds that an eco-friendly lifestyle may not easy to maintain during a recession, the conflict between environmental ethics and economic reality can be difficult to reconcile. Fortunately, there are a number of eco-friendly ways to earn extra money from home that can allow you to go green and save some green too. By using some a bit of creative flair and some financial savvy, you can easily boost your bottom line while also bolstering the environment’s chances of survival.

The food that you buy at grocery stores and other retail outlets is typically grown or produced on factory farms. Many of these industrialized food production centers are located in other countries and often they rely on clear cutting natural forestland to make room for massive fields. Because of their distance from American marketplaces, imported foods require a tremendous expenditure of gasoline to transport them here and thus contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. You can do your part to remedy this pressing threat to the environment by planting an organic home garden and producing your own fresh fruits and vegetables. Growing your own food is a fun and easy way to save large sums of money every year on grocery bills while also improving your diet by removing third-party chemicals and pesticides. You can also harvest excess amounts of various products and sell them at local farmer’s markets. Canned jams and jellies, apple cider and fresh peaches, blueberries and strawberries are among the most popular items found at farmer’s markets and these plants are also very easy to grow in a home garden.

One classic way to earn extra money from home in an eco-friendly way is to recycle on a large scale. Depending on the laws in your area, aluminum cans and plastic bottles can be exchanged at recycling centers for a reasonable fee which is typically paid based on weight. By staying diligent and collecting every one of your family’s recyclable items you can easily bring in $50-$100 a month. Recycling is one of the most widely recognized methods of environmental preservation because it achieves multiple aims, reducing solid pollution and reutilizing materials which would otherwise be wasted. You can expand the scope of your recycling impact by organizing your neighborhood and agreeing to collect people’s cans and bottles.

The internet provides many more eco-friendly ways to make extra money from home and by using your imagination you can find great ways to earn cash while saving the environment.  You can take surveys for money on a number of websites which are designed to facilitate environmental preservation by collecting donations. The information you provide in these surveys is used by environmental groups to form plans of action, organize events and build support for the green movement. Your passion for the environment does not have to become a casualty of the slumping economy, and by using your head you can make money from home in an eco-friendly way.

Baby Steps to Becoming a Green Business

There are many benefits that come with being a green business. Society today is very focused on saving the planet. If your business is green and you let people know this, they will use your business more; its common sense. Now, I doubt your business has the capability of becoming green over night, but here are several baby steps you can take to reach new clientele and help save the planet simultaneously.

I encourage you to have your business:

  • Switch to energy-efficient lighting
  • Turn off electronic devices
  • Recycle
  • Use eco-friendly products
  • Put plants in your office
  • Reduce Paper Usage

Your Business Under a New Light
One of the most beneficial steps for your company is to change your lighting. Using energy-efficient light bulbs can greatly reduce electric costs. This not only helps the environment, but can save you loads of money as well; this is what I call a win-win! According to About.com, compact fluorescent light bulbs use around 66% less energy than incandescent bulbs, generate 70% less heat, and can even last up to 10 times longer.

More Energy-Savings
As you probably already know, electronics use electric even when they are not being used. Make it a point to turn off all of your computers, printers, lights, and other energy-consuming items every night. An easy way to do this is to install surge protectors. Surge protectors typically have six outlets. If you were to plug in six of your electronics into a surge protector then you would only have to turn the surge protector off to power down all six of the electronics. Not only will this help the environment by reducing energy usage it will also save your company money on your electric bill.

Recycling
Recycling your company’s waste can have a major impact on the planet. Recycling-revolution.com says that, “Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees” and that recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a light bulb for four hours. They also state that, “a national recycling rate of 30% reduces greenhouse gas emissions as much as removing nearly 25 million cars from the road.
As you can tell, recycling is a major step on the going green path that every company should take. It shows the world that your company is making a stand for the environment. People will appreciate you and your companies concern and be loyal to you for this.

Use Eco-Friendly Products
Using Eco-Friendly products in your office shows ever client that comes in that you are doing your part in helping the planet. There are several office supplies that will not cost you an arm and a leg. For instance, consider buying eco-friendly notepads, recycled napkins, and biodegradable pens. All of these products typically state that they are green. You can also find all sorts of eco-friendly binders, notebooks, and folders. These are all inexpensive ways to support the going-green movement.

Office Plants
I’m sure you knew that buying plants for your office can make it look more appealing to clients, but did you know it can also help the environment? It has been proven that plants absorb airborne pollutants and negative ions. Electronics like computers emit these while turned on so plants can help clean your office air. Plants have also been proven to promote creativity and to reduce stress which will boost productivity within your business.

Reduce Paper Use
Everyone has email in today’s business world so take advantage of it. Instead of printing memos and various documents email them. Several businesses have already become completely paper-free. This means that they do not print anything within their office. You might think that this is not possible, but many email providers now offer document sharing for free. You can upload Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel to your email and share it with someone, or everyone in the office. Promoting this green step in your office will save your company money by reducing the supplies you use while at the same time help the planet.

Adam Conner, Print and Marketing Expert
Check out My1Stop.com for all your company’s Environmentally Friendly Printing needs.

Save Green By Being Green

Spring has sprung and summer’s almost here – it’s vacation planning time.

Many people these days are concerned with being both economical and eco-friendly. There are ways to make cuts to your summer travel budget while staying green. Here are some suggestions.

First of all, consider camping – it’s the original way to create a social network. Camping provides an inexpensive way to get back into nature and have fun with your friends and family. And if you keep it relatively low-tech and simple, it can be a very green way to vacation.

To keep your camping trip truly green, leave the portable TV, computer, video games, paper plates and styrofoam cups at home, along with the portable grill. Cook your food on a campfire and use reusable utensils, dishes and pots and pans. Instead of sleeping in a gas-guzzling camper, try sleeping out under the stars.

If that’s too “rough” for you, find a vacation home or hotel, but try to book with local providers, rather than chains. Very often, staying at a locally-owned location will afford you a more unique experience, and you’ll be contributing to the local economy. Ask if there are any special deals you can take advantage of, such as booking ahead of time, or arriving on a weekday instead of the weekend.

One of the easiest ways to save money on a vacation is to turn it into a “staycation” and just stay at home. Camp out in your own backyard. Visit nearby parks, museums, theme parks and libraries. Rediscover your own backyard. Museums and theme parks, along with state parks, often offer free or low-cost activities, and libraries also often sponsor free summer-time activities.

If you’re traveling and you must fly, take the most direct flight to your destination, trying to fly non-stop. Take-offs and landings use more fuel than flying, so you’ll be helping save fuel and carbon emissions. And you’ll save some time as well.

Once you’ve reached your destination, be careful of your eco-impact. Eat out locally if you choose to dine out, and support local businesses. You’ll find that local businesses often offer deals to tourists, so take advantage of it. Use public transportation, and bike and walk whenever possible, saving money on car rentals. If you do rent a car, make sure it is fuel-efficient, which will save you money on the cost of fuel.

Remember, it is possible to plan a vacation that can save you money and keep your carbon footprint to a minimum.

Angye M. is the contributing editor for AmericaOneUnsecured.com. They help consumers nationwide obtain personal loans and business loans.

How to stay green and save money after the recession

There’s loads of ways you can save money after the recession; and let’s be honest, we all could do with doing. The government’s ‘cut-backs’ have crippled us all, so saving a little each month can go a long way to keeping the finances in check. Here are some top tips.

Go electric

If you’re serious about saving money and going green, why not trade your fossil fuel-powered car for an electric one? The past issues with electric cars are becoming less evident with new battery technology and the government providing charging points throughout the country.

By 2013, the country should be completely electric-friendly, so why not? If you live in a city an electric car makes even more sense; it’ll cost you pittance a day and help save the environment.

Turn off that tap!

We’re all guilty to leaving the tap on while we brush our teeth, but if you’re looking to save money, it’s probably best to turn it off when you’re not using it. Wasting water not only hurts the environment but also hurts your wallet.

It may seem a little ‘tree-huggerish’ but the little changes do add up.

Grow your own veg!

If supermarket prices put you off – and let’s be honest, they do – why not start to grow your own vegetables? If you’re already a fan of gardening and your garden will allow it, plant some tomatoes, plant some, erm… potatoes, plant some aubergines and get cooking!

Gardening is good exercise, and when you’re sat at the table with all your family, you’ll be glad you planted the veg.

Comparison sites

Yep, comparison sites are a good way of making money for the companies who run them – thanks to the commission-based revenue – but if you search carefully, you can find some decent bargains. Think about your electric provider – when was the last time you checked it see how much they are charging you?

Get online and start searching for better deals. It’s a consumers’ market at the moment, so haggle if you need to.

Lift off the throttle

Driving is a huge expense for any family, but there are ways to reduce your bills each month. Filling up the tank can be a bit like taking a nuclear bomb and dropping it right on your bank, but don’t fret, there are ways to boost your mileage and, thus, reduce your outgoings.

The best advice would be to lift off when travelling down a hill, leave the car in gear when approaching a junction and drive to the speed limits – these are all fantastic ways of saving fuel. Changing your driving style is the main objective – get rid of that heavy right foot!

DIY

Do it yourself. It’s a simple ethos that can save you thousands around the home. If something’s broke, fix it yourself. Obviously, if it’s a boiler and you work in I.T, it’s probably best to let the experts deal with it, but if it’s something realistic, why not have a dig?

It could save you a fortune as the bills for labour would be eliminated completely.

This is a guest post on behalf of CarFinance247, car finance specialists within the UK.

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