It may appear to some that “going green” is simply a fad or trend in society today. Many are jumping on the bandwagon left and right, but I can assure you there is more to the concept than simply, “all the cool kids are doing it!” Why is going green good for business? And what steps can you take to become a greener entity in the world today? Hint: It really isn’t hard at all!
It is no secret that the Earth and its resources are in danger. Although many resources we are provided with are “renewable,” that doesn’t mean they are infinite or unable to become threatened or tainted. With populations growing at an excessive rate, it should only require common sense to understand that every person should be doing their part to keep our planet clean and properly functioning. But what about businesses? Do they count too? Indeed they do! In fact, businesses are a great outlet to set the stage and pave the way for “green success!”
Educated and responsible consumers are generally well aware of what ventures and tactics their chosen businesses are pursuing. However, some consumers are “left in the dark” and don’t know much about any of the companies they are doing business with. This is not ideal for two reasons: Consumers could be contributing to causes they (consciously) do not support or approve of, and businesses usually don’t feel the need to change their ways unless there is an incentive or unless they are prompted to do so by consumers. Because we must remember, businesses are always aiming to tailor their products, services, ideas, and actions to what consumers want and need! So if consumers decide not to support a business for a certain reason (in this case, their environmental footprint), that entity will likely change whatever they are doing to regain that business and make consumers happy. Bottom line: Consumers actually hold much more power than they realize…they just don’t utilize that power a lot of times!
So how does being green fit in with all of this, you ask? It’s easy! As I mentioned above, educated and responsible consumers are those that know where their products are coming from, how they are sourced, what processes these goods must go through, why they go through these processes, and how the entirety of this chain affects them. Educated consumers should also know what ethics and morals businesses have, as well as what they value and place emphasis on. Because let’s face it, no one wants to be contributing to the destruction of our planet and deterioration of resources…this affects all of us!
There are many reasons “going green” is a great concept. It is “new,” in the sense of more businesses and consumers becoming increasingly environmentally conscious than in the recent past. However, I feel that “being green” is simply a lost concept that became overridden and seen as unimportant when there was more money to be saved by performing and participating in corrupt practices. And guess what? Consumers either didn’t know or just didn’t stop them, and now we are getting in over our heads. Yet, that is where consumers come in. If consumers don’t support corrupt practices that results in a loss of sales for companies; therefore, losing profit. So that defeats the purpose of trying to cut corners in the first place! Not to mention, it is putting all of humanity at risk for more serious problems down the road. But, don’t worry; there is still hope and many easy ways for both consumers and businesses to be greener and healthier! Here are some easy options:
1) Replace outdated appliances or machines that are likely sucking unnecessary energy! In today’s market, there are many alternatives you can find that encourage being green by saving electricity, which in turn, saves both the business and consumer money. Even switching out small things like standard incandescent light bulbs for CFL (compact fluorescent) or LED lights can make a huge difference! They may cost more up front, but they are guaranteed to save you a substantial amount of money in the future. It can be up to hundreds of dollars of savings by simply changing one bulb! Now think about all of the money that could be saved through greener manufacturing machines and large appliances…that’s a serious innovation!
2) Use recycled materials and post-consumer waste (PCW) to create your products with. It amazes me every time I read something that says “Made from 100% Recycled Materials” because you would never know it! Almost every time I encounter a product such as this, it is just as sturdy and reliable as its alternatives that are not made from recycled materials. There is absolutely no difference in the “quality” that you can physically feel and see, but there is a huge difference in the long-term quality if you consider the awesome benefits that product promotes…like saving hundreds of thousands of pounds of trash to be repurposed!
3) Recycle, period. Everyone should recycle, but large corporations can really make a positive impact on our landfill waste if they simply participate. Packaging from shipments, excess materials, even the trash that employee’s produce on a daily basis at their lunch break. Recycling should always be supported and encouraged. Hopefully we will continue to see more ways in which businesses are making recycling easier for everyone. I even go as far as to recycle my toilet paper cardboard rolls and things like the cardboard backing you peel away when opening a new pack of pens! Even junk mail goes straight to the recycling bin for me. The effort is minimal, but the benefits are extensive.
4) Go paperless! Utilize “the online generation” by sending bills, payments, notifications, updates, and anything else via the Internet. This is the 21st century and nearly anything is possible with computers now! Sure, you might love flipping through your L.L. Bean catalogue each month, but online you can see more items faster than flipping through a catalogue and even search for specific items much quicker. In turn, that saves hundreds of thousands of pounds of paper per year! And it will likely keep all parties more organized, as email and other online programs make it easier to search and sort, and are readily available if you have a smart phone. There is even “green web hosting,” which is an eco-friendly web-hosting outlet that involves using green technologies to reduce environmental impact. Data centers are powered directly with renewable energy and trees, plants, and grass are planted around data centers, while general conservatory actions are practiced daily.
5) Strive to buy more environmentally friendly products, or products that are packaged in recyclable materials. When I am buying foods from the grocery store, I always try to choose glass over plastic (not to mention glass is healthier because even certified “safe” plastics can leach into foods at harmful levels), because glass can always be recycled, but a lot of plastics cannot. Even paper is better than plastic, although it has to come from trees. But taking these small steps is what generates big results! If every consumer and business became more conscious about things of this nature, we could see a huge improvement in our waste immediately.
6) Power your office, home, or business with alternative energy sources! There is more than just solar and wind power today, although those are still two great green means of creating energy. You can also find geothermal, hydropower, and plant matter being used today. Some of these alternatives come with the same price, or possibly a slightly higher price than “normal” energy, but again, the results for the long-term are more than worth the upfront costs, and are much cleaner for us and our environment.
These are all simply a few ways that businesses and consumers can strive to be more green. There are so many options and means of being “creatively green,” and it’s even fun to discover new ways to do so! In return, however, you can guarantee that as a business, you will:
-Be better respected from consumers and other businesses. Because being green shows that you care and that you are responsible in your business practices, with conscious regards to consumers, yourselves, and the environment.
-Likely gain customers, because so many more consumers are making conscious efforts to be environmentally sound now, and leaving wasteful companies with corrupt or irresponsible practices in the dust! This is the 21st century and we happen to be in America…there are very few things that aren’t possible today, and being green just isn’t one of them!
-Save money! By reusing, recycling, switching to energy-efficient appliances, and tweaking your normal habits, there is a lot of money to be saved! And this is in addition to saving the planet and promoting an environment…for us. It’s a win-win situation, there’s no debate about that!
-Be more competitive and viewed as a higher threat in the market. Any business in the market today knows how competitive many industries are. People are not willing to carelessly spend their hard earnings like they used to, and are much more picky about their purchases. As we know, consumers are becoming greener, so they want greener alternatives, as well as organizations that are environmentally conscious and responsible. This, in turn, makes them a bigger competition and a large threat to those companies who have not taken the initiative to become green. It’s not if sticking to conventional ways will hurt their sales and reputation, it’s when. Might as well get a head start and make all parties happy now! You know what they say, “time is money and money is time!”
Hopefully, with these quick tips, you will be encouraged and more informed of how to take steps to becoming a greener being-whether you are a business or “simply” a consumer (don’t forget how much power those consumers hold though). We all can work together to achieve green greatness and a happier Earth!