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The Time is Now.3 "must do" Actions to Make Your Business Greener


Not long ago, green business was reserved for fringe organizations or 60’s hippies living on an organic mushroom combine. Today, environmentally-friendly business operations are being adopted in every type of business from sole proprietor service businesses to multinational Fortune 500 corporations. Not simply an element of corporate responsibility, environmental sensitivity has become an imperative to become – and stay -- competitive. The good news is that going green (or starting the process) has never been more affordable.

  1. Reduce-Reuse-Recycle

    The opportunities for an organization to begin operating greener are extensive. While some may demand an investment, others only require making changes in the way a business does things. At a basic level, a company needs to understand the paradigm of reduce-reuse-recycle. Simply put, organizations must reduce consumption, reuse items instead of disposing of them, and recycle whatever they can. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

    • Reduce…
      • Commuting by increasing telecommuting and offering car pooling incentives
      • Energy consumption by utilizing CFL (compact flourcent lighting) and installing automatic light timers for offices
      • Unnecessary photocopying and use double-sided printing, where possible
      • Business travel and purchase “carbon offsets” from legitimate organizations such as www.carbonfund.org.
      • Imported items and buy locally to reduce transportation’s carbon footprint
      • Computer energy consumption by turning computers off at end of day

    • Reuse…
      • Packaging from deliveries
      • Photocopies for scratch paper
      • Office supplies such as paper with the maximum recycled content
      • Existing marketing items such as trade show booths, Green Displays etc
      • Refurbish old booths with new graphics

    • Recycle…
      • All used paper
      • Production waste. Ask suppliers about their recycling programs
      • Toner cartridges
      • All Glass and aluminum
      • Trade show products like Recyclable Green Banners etc

    If you need some more ideas …check out 100 ways to save the environment (http://www.seql.org/100ways.cfm) for great ways to reduce-reuse-recycle in your business and personal life.

    An important term in your office vocabulary should be transparency. Consumers and organizations want to be able to “transparently” look through your organization to see the greenness of its operation. So, make sure your company starts “walking-the-walk” before it starts “talking-the-talk”. A business should implement as many programs to reduce-reuse-recycle within its operation before it embarks on more costly initiatives.
  1. Success is top down and bottom up

  2. A successful program to implement green practices requires complete involvement by the entire organization. Those companies that have been most successful are the ones which have involved everyone from the executive suite to the mail room. The first step in this process is to assemble a team to consider implementing green practices in your particular business.

    A good place for the team to begin is developing an Environmental Statement for the business. This statement should lay out clear goals and objectives of the program.

    Now, this can easily degenerate into an exercise of “wordsmithing” and self-serving initiatives unless strong leadership exists. The team needs to focus on putting the company’s needs ahead of individual wants. An effective environmental statement will provide a solid framework for the direction of the organization’s green program.

    However, if the only people focused on the green initiatives are the “green” team, then the organization is still likely to fail. Communication and education are at the crux of a strong environmental focus. A sustained and interactive program must be developed. It might include an electronic newsletter, a specific intranet site dedicated to green initiatives, a blog for “ideas to make the company greener”, and meetings to discuss the initiative.
  1. Avoid the Greenwashing Zone

  2. Greenwashing is relatively new term which refers to actions taken by individuals or organizations where the promoted environmental benefit is much less than its actual impact. A good example would be a bank that promotes a “Hybrid Plus” CD that capitalizes on consumers association of hybrids and green, but the reality is that a CD has no inherent environmental benefit, despite its name. Before an organization tries to promote its environmental success, it should be careful to not over-reach on its claims. Review criteria for green washing at http://www.greenwashingindex.com/criteria.php.

    Ultimately, you don’t want to over promise. There is no such thing as “100% environmentally friendly”. Making big promises that may be disputed by consumers or environmental groups only opens your business to unnecessary scrutiny. Be up front with customers about what is “green” about a product, and what isn’t. There is a lot of “gray” in being green. Customers should feel comfortable that if someone questions the environmental nature of a product purchased from your company that they will not be blindsided by a greenness issue.

    When promoting a green message, your company should employ a green medium like using Environmental friendly banner stands, Recyclable Displays for their trade shows, promoting a green message at your next trade show or event by printing with environmentally harmful inks and on materials that cannot be recycled is inconsistent. Consumers are looking for consistency and honesty in business marketing programs.

When people speak about the greening of an organization, they often describe it as a journey. An initial assessment of your operations creates a benchmark – or the starting point. Metrics should be developed to track progress, and clear objectives should be outlined to guide action. Ultimately, goals will change over time as initial programs meet their objectives. New technology and resources will enable companies to cost effectively achieve environmental targets that were initially seen as cost-prohibitive.

Being green is clearly not a fad. Companies are working consistently to integrate green operating principals into their business that not only help the environment, but also benefit their bottom line. Today, people see two choices: a green process or one that is not environmentally friendly. In the future, there will only be one way to do it…the green way. So, now is the time to begin taking action. Do not be paralyzed by the multitude of choices available. Decide on a place to start and just do it. The green journey starts with you.

 

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