If you’ve spent time in a city, you’ve seen the haze and smog that comes from air pollution. Even if you haven’t, you may have heard about the environmental damage that comes from burning fossil fuels. Businesses have contributed to pollution by burning coal, oil and natural gas. More and more businesses are shifting to green business practices, which are reducing pollution and attracting consumers concerned about the environment.

How Fossil Fuels Create Pollution

Fossil fuels are fuels created from organic materials. Fossil fuels include oil, natural gas and coal. When these fossil fuels are burned, they release carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen and particulates into the atmosphere. These upset the natural balance of nitrogen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which leads to smog, acid rain and a greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect refers to the rising temperatures caused by the sun’s energy being trapped in our atmosphere by these extra gases. This raises the earth’s temperature.

Pollution and Business

Businesses can rely heavily on fossil fuels by using cars and trucks, which can burn a significant amount of fuel. Industrial operations and coal-burning power plants can also release pollutants into the environment. If your business burns a significant amount of fossil fuels, you may be subject to state regulations to reduce air pollution. In Washington, for example, businesses are required to get air permits for burning and industrial emissions. Businesses are also required to reduce pollution and regularly report on what gases and other pollutants are being released into the environment.

Reducing Business Pollution

Whether your business is large or small, reducing pollution can help the environment and your bottom line. Consumers are increasingly mindful of the environment, so moving to green business practices will attract these consumers. One simple way to reduce your impact on the environment is allowing employees to work from home when possible. This reduces their use of fossil fuels as they commute, and can increase employee satisfaction.

You can also look at how your business utilizes its resources. If driving is an important part of your business, for example, have your drivers stay at or under the speed limit to maximize fuel efficiency. Have them check the tire pressure regularly and have them map out trips in advance to reduce fuel use. If you’re in an office space, use energy-efficient lights and appliances and maximize your recycling. Depending on your state, you may be able to get rebates and tax credits for using energy-efficient appliances.

You can also look into moving your business over to a sustainable energy source such as wind power. This can earn you tax credits. Many investors are also looking to move away from businesses that rely heavily on fossil fuels. If you’re starting a business or looking to expand, you can attract green investors by reducing pollution and using clean energy.