Green Business Bureau go green
In today’s world of more, more, more, we all tend to fall into a trap of thinking that bigger is not only better, but that it is the only way to do things. What we mean is that too many people think that various positive initiatives, such as going green, are all or nothing propositions – that you have to change your entire building to solar power, recycle 100% of your materials and make every aspect of everything you do be perfectly green for your efforts to be of any value at all. This is a fallacy that places our entire global green effort in sever jeopardy. With such lofty, all or nothing, impossible to reach goals people, and businesses, become discouraged and in the end decide to do nothing rather than simply trying to do something and making small steps towards green achievement. We are here to tell you that every small step towards green matters.
Every Journey Begins with a Single Step
As the ancient saying goes, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. This can be said of losing weight, getting in shape, fixing up your personal finances, building a company or brand name… the list is endless, and the same is true of going green. The road to an eco-friendly world begins with throwing a single plastic bottle into the recycle bin instead of the rubbish bin.
If you or your company is considering going green, you are thinking in the right direction. Eco-friendly initiatives are good for the environment, good for customer relationships, and usually good for your bottom line, at least in the long term. By planning out your green growth you can develop a steady plan that suits your goals and budget, while putting you on the green path.
Those Steps all Add Up
Starting small can be the best way to begin a venture into sustainable business. There are a variety of green actions you can take that cost little or no money, but can start helping the Earth and your business immediately. The first step to going green is to develop your mission, looking at why you want to go green and what you hope to accomplish. This doesn’t need to be written by a professional writer or etched in gold, just draft a simple statement that tells your intention and overarching goals. This will help guide your green activities.
Next, start your plan. Again, you can start with simple things such as recycling or replacing worn out equipment with energy efficient equipment, as it breaks down. Decide on a budget and time frame for your various activities and you will be on your way to green in no time. Remember to build up slowly; if money is a limiting factor, then for now just work on recycling and changing your light bulbs; nothing fancy. As this becomes easier and profits build, then you can add more advanced eco-initiatives to your plan.
The Sky is the Limit
So every small step you take towards green helps our world to improve. When you change a burnt out light bulb, simply replace it with a longer lasting CFL or LED bulb. Set your thermostat two degrees cooler in the winter, and two degrees warmer in the summer; those two little degrees are a small step but make a huge different in the amount of electricity used. Once you are feeling comfortable with these small steps for your home or business, feel free to move up the eco-friendly ladder and make even bigger changes.
Big green moves can eventually include installing solar heating for a swimming pool or for an entire manufacturing facility, as Wal-Mart and Target corporations have begun to do. Small green steps can include riding your bike to a local restaurant for a night out, rather than driving across town to a certain special eatery. Taking small steps in the daily life of your household or corporation can eventually build into larger steps. A LED today may become a solar array tomorrow. Lowering the thermostat today can turn into installing an energy efficient HVAC system tomorrow.
In a world where people are obsessed with buying items in bulk to save a few cents, it is ironic to see a new craze coming in the form of single servings. Where money can be saved in buying a 5 pound can of coffee beans, people are willing to pay three times as much for having a single serving packet of flavored coffee. This attitude is a by-product of a 21st Century generation that is used to high tech gadgets and the instant gratification of online social networking. An attitude that says, “I want it my way, and I want it now.” But how did such a crazy view get started?
Meet my little friend
We need to face the fact that in the pre-21st Century we were a soda based society. Coke and Pepsi ruled and we were happy to take soda cans everywhere. Next, began the health craze to get back to basics with drinking clean, fresh spring water from a bottle. But let’s face it, water is just water, and can get pretty boring after a while. People started by mixing flavors in the water by spoon, and soon someone realized that they could package the mixture in an envelope.
Like colors of the rainbow
Now a tiny packet, the size of a stick of gum, can be stashed away in a pocket or purse for use in the instant that someone wants to flavor their water. Once people realized they could have punch flavored water, the craze quickly included any sort of drink from ice tea to an energy drink, and now iced coffee. But why stop at cold drinks – instant coffee can be portable too. Add to that flavored coffees and you can pretty much have whatever kind of drink wherever and whenever you want.
The expanding explosion
The idea of single servings is not just left to water drinks anymore. People realized they could open just a single serving of wine now instead of a whole bottle. Why let beer have all the glory of single serving bottles. Someone can have dinner at a friend’s house where everyone can have their favorite type of wine without the hostess being stuck with 5 unfinished bottles. If one can have the wine they want, then why not let everyone have the desert they want. The single serving craze has expanded into the dessert realm. You can check out the freezer section for your favorite frozen dessert from pints of ice cream naughtiness, or that gorgeous turtle pie. Skip over to the cake aisle and find single servings of moist sugary cakes of all designs and dreaminess.
Photo from news.cnet.com
Too much of a good thing
The single serving craze is great for instant satisfaction, but what happens after you have finished the perfect slice of turtle pie? Instead of one box to toss in the trash, now you have six times the cardboard and most likely spent six times more than you would have for a full pie that could have been cut into six pieces. Instead of one bottle of wine, now there are six to be recycled. Single servings, although convenient for society, has in a way taken a step backward when considering environmental conservation. Care needs to be taken when selecting the materials that the single servings are packaged in or the world can see a new epidemic similar to the water bottle problem.
Everything in its place
The truth is that where there is a want, there is a way. There was a want to have any flavored drink wherever and whenever someone wanted it. Although single servings can create more trash than is needed, they do serve their purpose. A parent can utilize this craze to help satisfy a cranky toddler who may not drink water, but can get hydrated with a quick mixture with their favorite flavor. Single serving drinks, coffee, creamers, and other dry goods make excellent fillers for emergency kits. In the time of a disaster, being able to choose what flavor you want today can make all the difference in a time when choices will be scarce and tensions high. Keeping your favorite flavored coffee packet stashed in the back of your desk drawer can save the day when you out of coffee grounds. Single servings are forever here to stay. However, with careful consideration of cost and recyclability, they can at least be a bit better. If you look you will see that more companies are offering paper containers for drinks and even plastic bottling companies are seeking to use less plastic per bottle.
As we strive to become green in our society much of the focus has been on reducing energy consumption to reduce CO2 and other emissions which pollute our air and amplify global warming. However, it is also important that we take a close look inside our homes and businesses to see how we can green our immediate environment, and also to protect ourselves from dangerous chemicals that unknowingly exist in the products that we use every day.
One assumption that too many people make is that products that they can buy in the store are safe. This is an erroneous assumption, and it starts with our laundry detergents, degreasers, and other cleaners. One of these compounds that is often cited as dangerous and yet found in many of our household cleaners are triphsophates. However, there are a few things to understand about detergents and this substance.
What is STP and TSP?
There are actually two detergent additives which are very similar in name: sodium triphosphate and trisodium phosphate. Sodium triphosphate (STP) is used in many commercial products, particularly in detergents and degreasers, and as a food preservative. This chemical is not known to cause soil or air pollution. However, it can cause some ecological problems in waterways in that it can deplete oxygen and allow some less desirable water species to over produce. Also, it may be harmful to people in certain amounts.
The other similarly named detergent additive is trisodium phosphate (TSP). Trisodium phosphate has also been used in degreasers, cleansers and food additives. Sometimes called simply sodium phosphate, this substance used to be used extensively throughout the developed world. Today, it is not usually used in soaps or cleansers that are designed for home use. However, it is still sometimes used in commercial items. Similar to STP, TSP is particularly dangerous for waterways and water based life.
Are Phosphates Dangerous?
Phosphates as a whole, including STP and TSP, are very damaging to natural waterways and even ground water. It is considered unsafe to flush even gray water containing phosphates into septic or sewer systems. In higher concentrations phosphates are also dangerous to people. It can cause chemical burns upon contact with the skin, burning of the nasal passages and lungs if inhaled, and burning to the eyes, stomach, mouth or other mucous membranes of the human body. Additionally, studies have found that when phosphates are mixed with other compounds they can become even more dangerous.
What Products Contain Trisodium Phosphate?
Trisodium phosphates used to be used in every day cleaners, but now are found mostly in commercial grade products. Items with TSP include commercial grade cleaners and degreasers, as well as both oil based and latex paint, and in soldering flux. It is rare that you will encounter these chemicals directly in your home use products, at least not in things such as soaps that regularly come into contact with your family’s skin.
How Can I Keep My Family Safe from Trisodium Phosphates?
More than half of the United States have made it illegal to use all but the most minute amounts of phosphates of any kind in consumer grade products. However, many commercial products still contain it. There are basically three ways to keep yourself and your family safe, in your home and in the workplace. First, be educated. Try to learn what chemicals are in the products that you use. Second, go green. Strive to choose cleaning products, and other items, that are environmentally friendly and made of natural ingredients. Third, be cautious. Whenever working with an unknown substance always protect yourself with simple precautions. Wear long sleeves, long pants and gloves whenever working with paint, industrial cleaners, cements or anything else questionable. Wear a particle mask or respirator. Also, change your clothing and shower after doing any type of work with industrial grade products.
Whether you like to read, enjoy learning new things, or just need a good resource to make your life a little greener – check out these free green ebooks and satisfy your literary cravings:
On Green Business
You Can’t Afford Not to be Green – 51 ways your business can save money and the planet. Read it online.
State of Green Business provides a summary of the latest advancements in eco-friendly business practices, including telecommuting, energy efficiency, and alternative transportation. This link takes you to the PDF version.
The Green Motoring Guide by Drive offers an in-depth fuel comparison, the scoop on the best green cars available now, and tips to make your drive time more environmentally friendly.
108 Tips to Raise Your Fuel Economy provides a wealth of info that will help you save money and decrease your carbon footprint. The green ebook is free when you subscribe to Wise Bread’s feed.
Gas Saving Devices – Fuel Saver or Consumer Scam is a must-read before you spend money to make your car more efficient. A number of websites sale this ebook for as much as $20, but it’s available free through ebooks Canada. (Warning – link is directly to the pdf file.)
On Global Warming and Climate Change
Global Warming: A Mind Mappers Guide to the Science and Solutions is an easy to read ebook by Jane Genovese, explaining the cause, effect, and solutions of global warming using illustrative mind maps.
The Challenge of Global Warming, written by NASA scientist James Hansen with the help of other contributers in 1989, is now available as a free ebook from Island Press. The book examines scientific proof of climate change and measures that can be taken to reduce the overall global impact.
Gone with the Winds by Jane Air is a unique twist on environmental ebooks. Read all 28 chapters of this romantic, yet satirical, take on global warming from a poetic view.
On Renewable and Alternative Energy
The Solar Energy Guide is an informative ebook from SolReka with everything you need to know about photovoltaic panels and their uses. Again, this link takes you straight to the book.
Biogas Methane Explained by Steve Last is a bit technical but worth the read if you’re interested in learning more about biomass and waste energy.
Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air, by Cambridge physic professor David Mackay, gives knowledgeable insight into the future of sustainable and renewable energy.
On Green Living
An Inconvenient Doofus by Steve Lee is a 62-page ebook with images, tips for a greener lifestyle, and plenty of humor. The link above will take you straight to the PDF file or you can get more info here.
Living Green is a collection of 101 tips to improve the environment. This link also takes you straight to the ebook.
On Sustainable Architecture and Green Building
Green Building 101 is a basic guide to sustainable building and remodeling from the folks at Tree Hugger Consulting in Oregon.
How to Buy a Solar Hot Water Heater by John Van Doren has all the info you need to make an informed purchase of solar hot water heaters. (PDF link)
Decorating with Fabric, Inc.’s president, Neil Gordon, was at the forefront of the green movement when he decided to go green over 17 years ago by offering his first green product – organically grown cotton.
“I needed the industry to catch up,” says Gordon, “before I had the great choices and options we have today.”
Just as when he was ahead of the industry in offering green products, Gordon is well aware of the need for educating clients, staff and suppliers on the importance green business practices. To that end, he recently became a member of the Green Business Bureau, the nation’s leading third party green business certification program.
“I felt it important to have a third party designation, and the Green Business Bureau offered the most comprehensive program I found,” says Gordon.
Gordon especially appreciates the Green Business Bureau’s educational component when it comes to informing his customers and suppliers.
“The more I make them aware, the more green becomes accepted in my industry,” says Gordon.
About Decorating with Fabric, Inc.
We proudly serve the New York Metropolitan Area’s Drapery, Window Covering and Upholstery needs. Among our many clients are Architects, Interior Designers, Facility Managers and Government buyers that work on Commercial or Residential projects.
Neil Gordon, President
Decorating with Fabric, Inc.
14 Nicole Way
Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977
Green Law Firms Are Where It’s At
Global and national economic pressures influence firms to go green
April 1, 2008
U.S. law firms are beginning to be confronted with questions regarding their implemented environmental policies. On the other side of the pond, firms in the United Kingdom have dealt with these issues for some time. “Pro bono work and charitable programs have been around pretty much forever,” said Tom Page, partner at the London office of CMS Cameron McKenna. “Green initiatives are newer, but our firm, which is probably fairly typical, has had some form of green policies for a long time, long before RFPs started including them in their requirements.” In practice, Page said, one merely checks the appropriate box on a form. However, some U.S. firms are asked to provide substantial review of manufacturing recycling programs as well as business environmental programs.
Several U.S. firms have adopted internal practices to reduce their carbon footprint by saving energy, reducing paper usage, and engaging in extensive recycling programs. Others, after complying with ABA-EPA Law Office Climate Challenge Waste Wise, Green Power Partnership, and Energy Star Programs, and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, are positioning their firms and their environmental and related practice areas strategically in legal markets.
The greening of America’s law firms has not reached critical mass, but the tipping point may come soon. Global and national economic pressures affect law firms, and as consumer concerns about global warming influence corporate strategy, law firms must adapt and respond to the same sustainability challenges as their corporate clients. Additionally, firms find themselves in the worst legal market since 2001, under the cloud of a countrywide recession. Now is the time for management, technology and marketing departments to join forces and establish green initiatives that cut expenses, lessen greenhouse gas emissions and promote corporate social responsibility. As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said, “Green is the new red, white and blue.”
Green corporate responsibility isn’t completely altruistic, although the most recent McKinsey report addressing consumer concerns about climate change focuses on the trust gap between the public and business. In three recent global surveys, McKinsey reports that corporate executives and consumers express equal concern about climate change and other environmental issues, and 80 percent of global executives expect climate change regulations within five years. The other side of the coin is profitability: the reduction of expense by eliminating wasteful practices and adopting clean energy use coupled with the creation of growth opportunities.
“The movement is evolving,” said Zacharie Mondel, co-founder and operating officer of the Florida-based Global Green Energy Consortium (GGEC), an organization which promotes sustainability certification and vendor interoperability between 4,600 companies in all industries. “We are at the beginning of a major growth era,” Mondel said. “The U.S. has not ratified the carbon-credit/carbon-offset movement. It is a huge global movement in Europe and the Far East. A lot of states are looking into caps on trading carbon emission plans.” With the U.S. refusal to ratify the Kyoto treaty, attempts to legislate carbon fees have failed at the municipal or state government level.
For example, the San Francisco Bay Area Air Quality Management District recently proposed charging carbon fees for greenhouse gas emissions, which would offset the costs of the Climate Protection Program in that district. But in a document released in early March, the Environmental Protection Agency said that greenhouse gas emissions were not unique to California and that the entire country is affected by global warming. Several states, including New Jersey, were poised to follow California’s lead in reducing GHG emissions. Mondel believes restrictions will remain voluntary in the U.S. with its layers of federal, state and industry standards. “There is a lot of confusion in the marketplace among companies that want to be in compliance,” he said. The business community wants to engage with someone who has experience: How green are we? How can you help us? What makes you the expert? Still, businesses and law firms can’t simply “greenwash” their environmental practices with empty slogans and marketing programs. Trust is demonstrated by walking the walk before staking a claim in green practices.
Alvidas Jasin, director of business development at Thompson Hine, is one of 1,000 individuals chosen to advocate Al Gore’s Climate Project. Jasin recently addressed members of the New York chapter of the Legal Marketing Association. Jasin, who volunteers his time and speaks frequently on the topic of global warming, urged marketers to work with firm management and their IT departments to create awareness and reduce energy consumption.
West Coast firms are leading the way. Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean, the first law firm in the country to be certified as a green business, has practice groups dedicated to green businesses in areas such as organics, fair trade, renewable energy and climate change. Marketing director Lydia Bednarik considers the firm’s green activities to be an important component in marketing and networking efforts. “When it comes down to it, firms still need to be top-notch,” she said, “but if they also share the values of their clients, they may have a leg up in the decision-making to hire.”
Farella Braun & Martel was the first law firm to be Green Certified by the city of San Francisco and the second firm tracking air emissions with California’s Climate Action Registry. Being “green” is considered one of the firm’s core values. The firm established a Green Task Force and implemented programs to recycle paper, batteries, computers, supplies and furniture, among other initiatives.
Nixon Peabody rebranded the firm with a campaign and service mark, “Legally Green.” Following a corporate model, the firm appointed the first chief sustainability officer in a law firm, and integrated existing practice areas into broad groups, under the headings Clean Tech, Green Buildings and Sustainable Development, Renewable Energy, Climate Change and Green Investing. The firm made strides by greening its culture, securing LEED certification in their San Francisco office, improving recycling practices, and compliance with its own supply chain.
Portland, Ore.’s Tonkon Torp launched a Sustainability Practice Group leveraging the firm’s renewable energy, forestry and green building practice areas. The firm also publishes the Sustainability Law Blog; a recent post titled, “Regional Climate Initiatives Move Forward with Emissions Trading Mechanisms” discusses both the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Western Climate Initiative, and their timelines for GGE credit trading mechanisms.
Andrew Cooper, a partner at Washington, D.C.-based Dickstein Shapiro, said an attorney took the initiative of forming an Environmental Committee, comprised of attorney and staff members, to look at their carbon footprint. The committee encouraged paper recycling and double-sided printing, replaced disposable cups with reusable ones made from 100 percent corn plastic, and increased environmental awareness firmwide. “As an attorney whose own practice is entirely in environmental law, I am pleased to let clients know that our firm is undertaking its own green initiative,” he said.
There are approximately 900 LEED-certified office buildings, according to the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit trade organization, and that number is expanding at the rate of 100 per week. Drummond Woodsum, a 45-lawyer firm in Portland, Me., is designing 30,000 square feet of office space in a new building with recycled carpeting and ceiling tiles, cork flooring, and energy-efficient lighting fixtures, according to marketing manager Ruth Wentzel. “One of the most effective ways to become more environmentally efficient is to move to a greener building, followed by reducing paper consumption and traveling less,” said Gastón Bilder, whose blog Derecho y RSE en América Latina focuses on law and corporate responsibility in Latin America.
“I think that ‘green initiatives’ can and should encompass much more than being the tenant in a green building,” said Lincoln Hobbs, owner of Hobbs & Olson, a small firm in Salt Lake City. “Our profession has a long and adverse reputation for burning through paper and energy and other wasteful practices.” Indeed, each attorney in the U.S. consumes the paper equivalent of one ton of wood per year, making the legal profession the single biggest user of paper. The life cycle of one ton of office paper, according to the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, releases nine tons of carbon dioxide equivalent gases, from wood production to recycling processes.
Susan Jacobs, marketing director at All State Legal, one of the biggest suppliers of law firm stationery, paper and related products, recently announced that the company became the first nationwide engraver to achieve the Forest Stewardship Council Chain-of-Custody certification. The company offers “tree free” 100 percent cotton fiber paper among its products.
“At the end of the year, when your managing partner is evaluating your value to the firm, your answer should hopefully be in terms of dollars and clients, not in wattage, gallons and reams,” advised Rachel Loper, Industry Team Manager at Nixon Peabody. Still, a firm needs to know something about its carbon size to calculate how much energy and money can be saved. To champion green initiatives, firms can get started with the ABA-EPA Waste Wise Program and implement three simple practices: purchase office paper with 30 percent recycled content, recycle office paper and use double-sided copying.
Source: Susan L. Ward
New Jersey Law Journal