There is a revolution going on. Every day, you hear something else about someone going green. Every day another green product comes to market, and every day someone is talking about how someone else is doing green the wrong way.
A 2009 study indicated that 82% of people will pay more to buy green products and services even in a depressed economy.
Last week, I asked 250 business owners how many of them believe that global warming is a myth. About 100 hands went up. I then asked how many people do something in their lives or in their business to help the environment. Almost every hand went up. Even though some of us don’t believe the media hype about environmental threats; most of us are still personally motivated to do something to help.
In order to get access to this market, we need to ask three questions:
First, what is being green?
Another term for being green is “sustainability.” This means you make sure the impact you place on environmental resources is such that it can be replaced naturally. For example, there are companies that clear cut trees to make toilet paper. This is not “sustainable.” On the other hand, a company that replants trees is being ecologically conscious, sustainable or green (pick your term, for the purposes of this article, they all mean the same thing).
Going green is a matter of progressive increments. Do the best you can with what you have and later you can do more. For example, when I made the choice to start taking bags to the grocery store, I did this successfully one in 8 times. Now I remember almost every time. It’s a matter of progression and while it is only one small step in reducing my environmental footprint, it is still a step forward.
Second, how do I integrate sustainability into my company?
There’s a very good chance you have already integrated sustainable practices in your business. Take a look at resources on the Internet. You’ll find a lot of blogs and articles with recommendations of green practices you can integrate into your business. Contact your local power company. Most provide a free “Energy Audit” which will help you find simple solutions that can help your business save money and decrease your impact on the environment.
Look into integrating business processes into your web site. Cisco saves $540 million per year by having their product documentation available online. They’re also saving a lot of trees, a lot of oil and reducing the amount of carbon released by these products.
One of my own clients, the American College of Veterinary Dermatology saves 65 trees a year, 142 thousand pounds of CO2 and $22,000.00 per year in paper simply by making Resident case studies available in a secure area of their web site. This doesn’t even include the $4,000.00 they save in shipping these documents.
Third, how do I be seen as being green?
There is nothing wrong with posting what you are doing to your web site. It’s good to let your customers know what you’re doing that is special. You can attend seminars and courses. While a lot of people spend years getting a Masters Degree or a PhD in ecology, there are weekend semniars that can help put you on the right track.
Consider Third party certification, an icon placed on your web site and print materials that indicate you are taking the extra step to do something for the environment. Find a certificate issuer who will help guide you as you and your business become more green. Avoid solutions that set an inflexible standard that doesn’t take into account your unique needs.
There is still no definitive standard for being green and what you do to save energy and reduce your impact on the environment may be different from what your neighbor needs to do. There are some proven steps… recycle, using Compact Fluorescent Lighting, avoid plastic. But, expect things to change; It won’t be long before LED light bulbs will be inexpensive enough that Compact Fluorescent Lights won’t be worth the Mercury it takes to make them so be flexible in your quest for solutions, the real answer for you may be just around the corner.
Chuck Peavey began his career developing video games. He is a certified leader for the Sierra Club and a member of Leave No Trace. Chuck’s blog can be found at www.MakeMyBusinessGoGreen.com and he co-founded www.GreenCertifiedWeb.org (Coupon Code “ezine“) a green business certificate company focused on helping businesses integrate sustainable practices.