Why Green Business Matters

Two Green Business Experts Weigh In On How Businesses In Any Industry Can Implement Simple Reduce-And-Reuse Strategies

November 2014

Adopting more earth-friendly practices is becoming more than just doing what you can to protect the planet. It is becoming smart business.

Environmental issues are altering the regulatory and market landscape, and sustainable business is not just being rewarded with tax credits but becoming the norm. In addition to government regulations and tax breaks, consumers are flocking to safe, nontoxic, green products. As people are becoming more aware of their purchasing decisions, they are often more willing to pay a premium to support the earth-friendly practices they believe also protect their families for years to come.

Two green business experts—Shel Horowitz, green marketing and publishing consultant, columnist, and author; and Jen Boulden, CEO and host of JenBTV.com—provide a few inexpensive and easily implemented ways your business can become more energy efficient and reduce waste.

What are some simple ways businesses can become more energy efficient while reducing costs?

Shel Horowitz: Most businesses leak huge quantities of heated air in the winter and cooled air in the summer. Simple and very inexpensive measures like insulating outlets and switch plates on outside-facing walls with foam gaskets, and plugging unused outside-wall outlets with baby outlet protectors can make an immediate difference. You should also make sure windows are properly caulked. Ensure that doors to the outside close tightly and have weather stripping and heat-trapping rubber sweeps.

You can also save energy by installing smart power strips, so that if employees turn their computers off for the night (which they should), the printers and other peripherals will shut down, as well.

Another simple solution is to replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs. A bulb that lasts 10 or 15 years pays for itself many times over in labor costs, in addition to the significant savings on electricity.

How can businesses reduce the amount of waste they create?

Jen Boulden: People always think, “I’ll just recycle,” but in fact, the much more impactful Rs in the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle equation are to reduce and reuse. Focus on avoiding having to find a recycling receptacle or, as is mostly the case, send your waste to the landfill.

With that said, the top three items in office trash cans are paper, coffee cups and plastic bottles, and to-go food waste (bags, wrappers, utensils, and so on). The good news is all three types of waste are easy to reduce.

First, don’t print unless absolutely necessary. To help remind staff of this, reward the employees who print the least, or limit the quantity of paper purchased each month. You can also ask employees to set their computers to default to double-sided print.

Second, ask employees to bring their own mugs to work or supply them as a perk instead of using paper or Styrofoam cups. By reusing mugs, you and your employees can also get a small price reduction on filling up your cup at some coffee shops like Peet's, Starbucks, and many local coffee shops. And definitely use and suggest refillable drinking bottles. I actually use an Italian lemonade bottle from which I’ve removed the label, and I fill it with filtered water. Make sure to provide employees a source of clean water to refill their bottles.

Finally, encourage employees to bring their lunches instead of eating out to save mega moolah and avoid the food trash pileup. It’s important, though, for lunches to be in reusable food containers so you aren’t trading out one type of trash for another. My favorite “accessory” is an insulated lunch bag that is shaped like a brown bag but has a magnetic closure. Encourage employees to stay away from plastic baggies. They are costly and can leak toxic chemicals for up to 1,000 years in the landfill. Ceramic and glass are great for food storage because they are non-reactive and go from fridge to microwave and back.

What are the ways a business can promote its commitment to being greener? How will this benefit its relationships with existing customers and how can a business leverage green practices to attract new ones?

Jen Boulden: There’s no debating the fact that when a business makes efforts to be more sustainable, it attracts a lot more partners, clients, and customers. Specifically, it super-charges marketing by giving your business a unique position that sets you apart from competitors, it opens new doors to win new contracts, and it increases your close rate and your new customer acquisition rate. Keep in mind though, if a business is not authentic or thorough in establishing its green practices, it could backfire, because clients and customers are wising up to “green washing.” Therefore, I recommend getting a certification to ensure that your business approaches the effort holistically, and then it can display a certification badge from a third-party organization, such as the Green Business Bureau’s Green Business certification, to convey the authenticity of your efforts.


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