Go Green Business: Small Green Steps
For some it is like a battle cry, for others a rallying cheer, but throughout the business sector various companies are embracing the call to “Go Green Business,” an echoing demand heard from employees, investors and consumers around the country.
One Way to Go Green is to Do it Large Sure, for some companies the decision to become a green business is made from the top down, originating as a mandate from on high, replete with fancy planning and significant financial backing. And this is a great way to start. Businesses that have the resources and desire to go green in a big way should start with a firm plan.
This plan should articulate a green mission statement which describes how the collection of anticipated eco-friendly moves will benefit the company, investors, employees, customers and the world at large. They should then itemize the big ticket changes that the green initiative will entail, with full estimates, budgets and implementation timelines. Of course, small ticket items should be delineated as well. And finally, a communications plan should be developed for how the new green operations will be rolled out to employees and how the public relations department will get the world out via popular media outlets or community service efforts.
Another Road to Green Takes Small, Steady Steps Of course, as the saying goes, a journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step. This applies to a plan to go green business, as much as anything else. Even smaller companies – or larger companies who are not yet totally committed to the idea of eco-business – can dip their toes into the waters of green sustainability in a variety of small ways. Incremental, inexpensive changes to purchasing, product development, waste management and even office procedures can start any organization on the road to green.
Following are four small steps that any company can take to go green business:
Step #1: Start with waste management for a small investment and big return. Waste management is a large expense for many businesses. From eliminating office paper waste to industrial sludge, managing waste is expensive and challenging. Fortunately, finding green ways to eliminate waste saves time and money, and also improves a company’s reputation in the community. Greening a waste management program can involve something as simple as encouraging employee recycling of paper, plastic and other materials. It can also mean conducting research on one’s waste management company, being sure to choose a company that deals with waste responsibly. Of course, one big way to reduce waste is to not produce it in the first place, which can be particularly important in manufacturing facilities.
Step #2: Look at your manufacturing processes or purchasing choices. For manufacturing facilities, redesigning packaging, choosing sustainable and recyclable materials, and improving facility practices in general, can go a long way towards a work plan to go green business. Through proper research and development, materials and processes can be changed to produce less waste, cost less to transport (thus saving on green house gasses from vehicle emissions), use fewer toxic chemicals, and create products with an eye towards product lifecycle, as a whole.
Even companies that do not manufacture products can strive for green by making responsible purchasing decisions. Choosing fair trade products, products that do not use child labor or other unfriendly labor means, products that are recyclable and by being careful to order only what is truly needed for the job at hand, companies can reduce the money they spend, obtain better products, and build a more positive green reputation.
Step #3: Using energy efficiently. One of the easiest ways to become a green business does not require installing a full solar water heating system or geothermal heat pumps. Sure, these major overhauls of operating equipment can provide excellent returns in the long run, but facilities managers may be surprised to see how much money they can save – and how much greener their company can be – if they simply make some small changes to how the organization uses energy.
One small change is to reconsider the number of shifts. Many manufacturing facilities traditionally have run three shifts a day, keeping the equipment and facility in full energy using mode 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But companies such as General Motors have known for decades that shutting down sometimes can save money. By simply shutting down the building power for part of the day, or days out of the year, a company can save tens of thousands of dollars. Obviously, if a company is so busy that it truly needs two or three shifts, then that is fine. But some companies have simply continued this practice out of tradition. See if you can get all your work done in a single shift, shutting off the power after shift ends. This same practice applies to office buildings as far as overtime and varied shifts.
Step #4: Small steps in the office place. Other small steps a green business can be taken in any workplace, at the employee level. Simple things such as recycling water bottles, creating a compost bin for employees, and even encouraging employees to have coffee in the break room in their own reusable cups (as opposed to going through hundreds of disposable coffee shop cups every year) are all simple, sustainable changes that cost next to nothing.