We now live in a global marketplace and economy where new challenges face business owners almost daily.
There is however perhaps no bigger challenge than the one facing us today in terms of realizing the effects our existing business practices and products will have on our employees, customers and supply chains for today and tomorrow.
Businesses who would like to go green should start with building a foundation of education and awareness around the benefits of being green with the company’s leaders and decision-makers.
Innovative businesses of all type and sizes worldwide are discovering ways of reshaping their organization in ways that improve financial performance and reduce their environmental footprint.
Going green is a simple term that encompasses many issues.
Gaining leadership approval and
buy-in is key to have a chance at success and starts with education and awareness that allow you to make better informed business decisions on the road toward sustainability.
Does it seems like everywhere you look each day there is someone new endorsing themselves or their product as “Green”?
Keen marketing minds and organizations know that many recent studies indicate significant upward trends in the value consumers are placing on doing business
with those who offer environmentally
friendly products and services.
Keep in mind, however, that things are not always as they seem or at least not always how others want you to see it. Thus the term Greenwashing was born in order to help us separate the pretenders from the contenders.
We’ll have more on helping you distinguish this in future EcoCentric articles, but for
now it’s worth sharing the generally
accepted Seven Sins of Greenwashing for
you to chew on:
1. Sin of the Hidden Trade-Off
2. Sin of No Proof
3. Sin of Vagueness
4. Sin of Irrelevance
5. Sin of Lesser of Two Evils
6. Sin of Fibbing
7. Sin of Worshipping False Labels
You’ve probably noticed funny little numbers within a triangle located typically on the bottom of plastic containers. These numbers are called resin codes and help consumers identify both the type of plastic and the corresponding recycling potential.
Just because a container has a number doesn’t mean it can or will always be recycled. Some have no second life use and a very small market demand. A general rule of thumb is that higher quality plastics have lower numbers and those not as easily reused get higher numbers.
Here’s a primer. But remember to check with your local recycling provider.
1 PETE – Polyethylene Terephthalate. PETE products are typically recycled into fiberfill for certain clothing, bedding, carpets, shopping bags, furniture, etc.
2 HDPE – High Density Polyethylene. HDPE is a high demand recyclable plastic. New plastic types of lumber are commonly made from recycled HDPE.
3 PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride. PVC is generally the least recyclable of all plastics. These are typically single life items that become trash and usually contain toxin additives that are exposed when breaking down.
4 LDPE – Low-Density Polyethylene. Many LDPE items end up in landfills but some of the more progressive recycling centers take them as new second life options have begin to develop.
5 PP – Polypropylene. PP has a short list of uses if recycled.
6 PS – Polystyrene (Styrofoam). PS’s containers leach toxins into food and drink at room temperatures and warmer. They are generally not recyclable.
7 Other – This is a catch all category and is typically difficult to recycle.
For businesses, the introduction of the new triple bottom line represents both a challenge and an unprecedented opportunity. Not sure what we mean? The Triple Bottom Line is this: the concept of creating a new three-part business model to create a sustainable business operation.
The three P’s of this model are:
People (Social Well Being & Equity) — Recent studies have shown a dramatic increase in the value employees (young and old alike) place in working for organizations that promote the well being and equity of their work force, along with a commitment to the community and environmental stewardship efforts that work toward the common good.
Planet (Environmental Protection & Resource Conservation) — Many companies are amending existing or creating new Mission, Vision & Values policies that adopt a commitment to the education and awareness of sustainable business practices and products.
Profit (Economic Prosperity & Continuity) — Business survival in our society is determined by a company’s ability to turn a profit. Innovative companies are adjusting to the changing economies and global challenges by adjusting their operations to satisfy both their shareholders and stakeholders.
1. Save money
It simply isn’t true that going green is going to break the bank. Companies adopting green practices save real money applied directly to their bottom line by taking steps to run a cleaner and more efficient business. New practices that evaluate and reduce energy, water, materials, waste and other inputs result in quantifiable savings now and in the future.
2. A competitive advantage
Statistics show that customers, consumers and businesses alike are more inclined to purchase and partner with established green businesses. Customer loyalty to such businesses is reaching an all-time high.
3. Increase efficiencies
Analyzing your business from top to bottom with an eye toward building a greener and sustainable operation fosters an overall culture of waste elimination among both employees and management if implemented properly.
4. Improve local economies
Buying and recycling locally not only can reduce your carbon footprint, it also helps local economies by creating jobs that retain young job seekers and in turn creating stronger and more sustainable communities.
5. Employee motivation and wellness
Introducing a green business culture can have a positive measurable effect on your employee’s motivation, morale and wellness. Employees respect efforts to improve indoor quality, reducewaste and eliminate environmental toxins. This provides a healthier work environment and allows you to attract and retain employees who share your values and commitment.
Jeff Carey, owner Iowa Green Team, LLC, and organizer of CR Green Drinks, a social networking organization for people interested in green issues.
Information technology (aka that swirling cloud of information called the World Wide Web and all the technologies we use to access it) may seem sort of green. Or at least, that it’s not not green. But take a look at these stats and you’ll understand the factors driving greener information technology practices and products.
- Energy availability — 1.5 billion people are now online worldwide; 80 percent of the world’s population however is not. In some areas, new power feeds using traditional methods are difficult or impossible to obtain.
- Energy and equipment costs — Information Technology demand is growing 12 times faster than the overall demand for energy. Governments worldwide are moving to enact legislation that will track and limit carbon emissions.
- Equipment costs and life cycle — Information Technology equipment — like computers, monitors, printers — is replaced every three to five years, so by 2010 there’s the potential for one billion computers worth of e-waste. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, we discard 20 to 50 metric tons of computer related equipment worldwide each year. This figure represents 5 percent of all municipal solid waste.
- Data center costs — Data centers consumed about 180 billion kilowatts in 2007, a figure that is expected to double by 2010. Escalating equipment and energy costs within the data center combined with rising carbon emissions is helping create the perfect storm.
- People, profit and planet — Information Technology practices are subject to the same triple bottom line success factors as businesses. Practices that positively impact people, profit and the planet is the new way to measure success.
Here’s a powerful quote from the Great Law of the Iroquois I think it sums up the organic nature adopting of Green Practices. “In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation… even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.”
- Sustainability: This word is quickly becoming a part of mainstream vocabulary. Let’s keep it simple and go with this definition: Using methods, systems and materials that won’t deplete resources or harm natural cycles.
- Green building: Many new construction projects are now including new and innovative environmentally friendly building materials and architectural designs. In addition, sustainable land must be considered. Here’s the U.S. Green Building Council’s definition: A high performing home or business that’s energy and water efficient, has good indoor air quality, uses environmentally sustainable materials and also uses the building lot or site in a sustainable manner.
- Green products: We are becoming increasingly aware of the need to include green products in our efforts to go green. Here’s a definition I like to use: A product that is environmentally and socially responsible, along with being accountable to, and respectful of, the places and people that provide and use them.
- Green practices: Arguably the most important aspect of going green lies in our day-to-day routines — be it at home or work. Adopting green practices is the one area each and every one of us can participate in starting today. Practices also happen to have the largest overall environmental impact.
- Greenwashing: Greenwashing is a term that refers to the promotion of a product or service as being environmentally friendly without any basis in real fact.