Make Connections

Network, Get Answers, Find Members in Your Area, and More!

Forums » All Things Green

What business owners can do to go green

    • 270 posts
    June 20, 2007 8:14 AM EDT

    Another idea is something as simple as heating water.  Turn the water heater thermostats down, if possible.  Most offices keep them way to hot.  In addition most businesses have flat roofs.  Solar hot water heaters are not real expensive to replace a water heater with and they like flat roofs.  Since most companies work during daily light hours they can provide 100% of your hot water.

    ---
    Bert at Harvey Software, Inc.
    Multi-Carrier Shipping Software and Supply Chain Solutions for Internet Retailers

    Also a provider of free shipping information and resources at Harvey Software`s Parcel Shipping Blog along with free tracking solutions at TrackingPage.com...

    • 270 posts
    June 20, 2007 6:02 PM EDT
    A lot of people don`t realize some things about ceiling fans.  Ceiling fans only save if you turn up the AC higher.  As a general rule, a ceiling fan will make you feel cooler so you can set your AC higher.  They will not really make the room cooler.  Also, do not leave ceiling fans on when you leave the room.  They do not keep a room cooler, they just make you feel cooler.  If you don`t do these things you will not save nearly as much from having them.  One last thing about ceiling fans is to use compact fluorescent light bulbs if your fans have lights.  The higher wattage standard incandescent bulbs actually heats up the air comes from the fan and uses too much electricity.

    If you want to know how much energy your business uses and where you could potentially save visit this site and calculator:

    http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=small_business.sb_calc ulate
    bert2007-6-20 23:4:54

    ---
    Bert at Harvey Software, Inc.
    Multi-Carrier Shipping Software and Supply Chain Solutions for Internet Retailers

    Also a provider of free shipping information and resources at Harvey Software`s Parcel Shipping Blog along with free tracking solutions at TrackingPage.com...

    • 3 posts
    October 5, 2007 10:21 AM EDT
    I work at a small company called NeatReceipts.  Our product is a scanner and hardware combination that helps people digitize and organize receipts, business cards and documents.  We`ve taken some steps to encourage employees to be  environmentally responsible. 

    - We ask employees and customers to scan in their paper and then recycle it.
    - We bought each employee a mug and stopped purchasing paper and styrofoam cups.
    - This past spring we donated the proceeds from an office party to The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania.

    Little things and changes can really help encourage people to think about the things they can do at work and home to support and preserve the environment.

    Thanks,
    Jenn
    • 38 posts
    June 19, 2007 5:15 PM EDT
    Hi all!

    Wow, it`s kind of wierd having a "reputation that precedes me," I feel so...green.

    First of all, I`m really excited to see this forum category on here—it is SUCH an important issue and I think it`s going to be incredibly important for businesses (especially small businesses) to understand the issues and start implementing sustainable practices themselves.

    There are so many advantages to going green that it`s hard to know where to even begin. I think the article Cat posted to (above) is a good start, because even though it`s primarily directed at graphic designers it`s actually applicable to pretty much every business on here.

    I`ll definitely try to drop by more than I have been—I`ve been crazy busy these days!

    Best,
    Jess

    ---
    Roughstock Studios | Notes From the Rodeo | Newsletter
    Strategic communications without the selling of souls.

    • 38 posts
    June 20, 2007 7:11 AM EDT
    This is great advice. I have a little note in my email signature that reminds people "Please consider your environmental impact before printing this email."

    I have a implemented a PDF workflow in my office and I am in the process of converting all of my client intake forms into online forms.

    You can also print double-sided, print on "draft" mode (uses less ink) when not printing critical docs, and reusing wasted prints as scrap paper.

    —J.

    ---
    Roughstock Studios | Notes From the Rodeo | Newsletter
    Strategic communications without the selling of souls.

    • 38 posts
    June 27, 2007 8:46 AM EDT
    As for AC, it also serves to heat the outdoor air temperature—all those AC units going actually does increase the city heat!

    Cat, I wonder what would happen if you pulled your ink cartridges between uses and kept them in sealed (reused, of course!) platic bags? It`s a pain, but maybe les sof a pain than having to replace them all?


    —J.

    ---
    Roughstock Studios | Notes From the Rodeo | Newsletter
    Strategic communications without the selling of souls.

    • 38 posts
    October 1, 2007 6:07 PM EDT
    That probably does depend on your printer. I`ve got an HP all-in-one that I can pull-and-replace from at will. But I have no idea what, say, a quality printer might require.

    ---
    Roughstock Studios | Notes From the Rodeo | Newsletter
    Strategic communications without the selling of souls.

    • 38 posts
    July 2, 2008 8:03 AM EDT
    I haven`t been around for a while, thanks to a busy schedule among other things, but I feel the need to pipe in here as this thread continues to grow, and I start to see some pretty questionable "ideas" being thrown around.

    Everyone here really needs to be aware of the concept of "greenwashing," and what that both means and does to those who are genuinely attempting to make real environmental change. When you replace one environmentally unfriendly practice for another, and claim you`re being "green," you`re greenwashing. When you tell only half the story about your products (perhaps you use recycled content in a product, but the energy used to produce that product is higher than if you used virgin content), you`re greenwashing.

    These practices do real harm to both your business and to the environment you claim to be protecting. Consumers are not idiots - they are becoming increasingly more aware of the tactics businesses (and their marketing departments) use to mislead them simply to sell products. You can say you`re as green Kermit the Frog, but that doesn`t mean you can live off a diet of flies - saying so doesn`t make it so.

    If you`re a business owner and you are genuinely interested in improving your operations and reducing your environmental footprint, you`re going to need to go a lot further than simply swapping out one bad piece of the supply chain for another. Here`s my advice for anyone who is about to make a claim about just how green they are:

    1. Do your research. Know what you`re talking about, or your decisions will very likely be misinformed, and may do more harm than good.

    2. Consider the entire supply chain. If you`re using recycled paper, but that paper has to get trucked in from across the country, and then you have to go drive for an hour to pick it up at the big box store, you may very well be causing more environmental damage in that process than if you were to walk to your local independent retailer and pick up a ream of virgin content paper manufactured in-state. You need to look beyond the simple, obvious step, and really consider the entire footprint/implications of your decisions.

    3. Explore alternatives. Look for unusual or creative options to solve your problems. I was having a real problem finding recycled brown envelopes in the size needed, so I joined FreeCycle instead, and lo and behold someone was giving away a box of 500 of exactly what I needed. I didn`t have to go out and buy new non-recycled envelopes from a company, thereby increasing the demand for such products. I also could have switched my approach and chosen a different color or size of recycled envelopes.

    4. Remember that although "green" products are better than "non-green," not consuming more stuff is the even better option. The problem with our current methodology is that the rate at which we consume products, green or otherwise, is not sustainable. That is, the resources required to produce anything are diminishing at an irreplaceable rate.

    5. Be wary of green claims. Don`t assume that just because a company claims they`re green, that they really are. See Six Sins of Greenwashing for more details about a recent marketing study that found that of over a thousand green marketing claims, all but ONE was either false or misleading. Again, do your research. If you`re looking for ways to evaluate just how green a company, you can check out my article on the subject.

    6. Ask yourself if the claim you are making can be supported by scientific facts. Can you provide legitimate, 3rd-party information backing up the claims you make? Are you willing to disclose the details to consumers who might ask? If not, you may want to reconsider making such claims.

    When I read suggestions like, "Reduce paper consumption and your carbon footprint by sending clients/prospects USB drives" I have to shake my head. Electronics are made with toxic chemicals that are as bad or worse for the environment than the chemicals used in paper manufacturing. This is not necessarily a greener alternative, and to claim it is is irresponsible and misleading. I don`t mean to single people out, but businesses who make false or misleading claims make the rest of us look bad.

    The real question shouldn`t be "what kind of tchotchkee should I send to prospects," the real question should be "what is the most effective way to market my business to prospects without sacrificing the environment or public safety to do so?" From there, you might just find that a quick phone call to a well-targeted prospect is better than sending out thousands of pieces of junk to random people that will just collect dust in a desk drawer, or worse, a landfill.

    It`s not just a matter of swapping one thing for another; whole business models need to change if we`re going to have any real impact on the environment. And that includes the way we market our businesses and the kind of claims we make.

    Sorry to be a downer here, but I`m a little tired of businesses jumping on the green bandwagon only to steer it off course for those who are genuinely making real changes to their business structures in order to measurably reduce their environmental footprint. There`s a reason the phrase "green fatigue" has begun being tossed around in relation to consumer behavior, and it`s because of the deluge of false claims being made.

    Roughstock7/2/2008 1:09 PM

    ---
    Roughstock Studios | Notes From the Rodeo | Newsletter
    Strategic communications without the selling of souls.

    • 38 posts
    July 3, 2008 5:10 PM EDT
    Okay, I realize my post was very critical and it genuinely wasn`t my intention to single you out and imply that you`re not doing your part. I also realize that my comments were rather heated, but I`ve been hearing more and more advice from folks who may or may not be genuinely trying to be more green, and a lot of it is either unsubstantiated or just flat out bad advice. Please accept my apologies for coming off like I was attacking - it really wasn`t my intention.

    That said, much of the advice you provided in the initial post is, to be fair, only half the story. As you said, we all have a lot to learn (myself absolutely included), so I`m very aware that I don`t have all the answers by any means. My primary point in the above post was that most of the time we`re asking the wrong questions, and so we get either incomplete answers at best, or outright wrong answers at worst.

    For example, organic cotton is certainly better than conventional cotton, as it is produced without pesticides. However, the cotton industry is pretty destructive as a whole, and so the mere act of purchasing organic cotton isn`t necessarily "green." Another example would be bamboo. Bamboo is considered by many to be a sustainable material, as it`s quick to regrow and so requires much less energy, land, etc. to produce comparable quantities. However, it`s often treated with toxic chemicals (and many Chinese manufacturers don`t disclose the production processes used), and so it may not be as "green" as we are led to believe. So these options are not necessarily the right choices in every given situation.

    A lot of folks, including myself, believe that every little bit helps, and so we`re often quick to dismiss critiques like this as nitpicking. But in the process of choosing one material over another, or one product over another, we run the very real risk of forgetting that even as we opt for one step greener, we need to make these decisions with a fact-based understanding of the multitude of issues involved. "Lack of pesticides" is important, but if it`s being produced hundreds of thousands of miles away by workers paid pennies on the dollar, and then shipped by boat and truck to the final location, it may very well cancel out any "greenness" achieved by the lack of pesticides.

    And this attention to nuance and multiplicity is especially relevant when making green claims about our own businesses. I applaud the business owners in this thread and elsewhere who are educating themselves about the issues, and making efforts (however small or large) to green up their operations. You`re obviously a really good example of the extent that we can go to to reduce our environmental impact. But when we make green claims, we walk a thin line. As a marketer of sorts (writer/designer), I am particularly sensitive (okay, prickly) about the claims companies make.

    As a marketer, I have an obligation to my audiences (that means my clients, their customers, and the public at large) to not misrepresent what I push on them. I also have gotten to the point where I feel I have an obligation to speak up when I see businesses and their marketers spreading either misinformation or half-truths (whether intentional or through simply not knowing the whole story).

    I think the green marketplace is in a very precarious place right now. We`re tapping into a weird gray area of consumer distrust of conventional corporate models, a growing demand for value-based business structures, and a very real and immediate need to dramatically change the environmental impact we`ve had up to now.

    The way we discuss these issues (and the way we market our businesses) is as important as what we say (and what we sell). My argument is that the way we deliver these new messages needs to change, as much as the products themselves do. We as companies need to be transparent, we need to be willing to ask ourselves difficult questions, we need to be willing to look beyond the easy (and often incomplete) answers.

    Because it really will self-destruct on us if we`re not careful. If we claim to be improving our environmental footprint, we better be able to back it up, or customers will take their business to a company that can. Take your own company, for example. You`re obviously taking significant steps towards reducing your environmental impact by looking first to your operations.

    But perhaps the answer for your company lies not in recycling your computer paper or timing your light switches, but in looking at the even greater footprint you leave. Every single product that you stock has its own footprint, so by purchasing and reselling those products, you`re contributing to that footprint. How can you adjust your business model to effectively, and not just piecemeal, reduce that massive footprint? Maybe it means not stocking everything at once, so you`re not creating unnecessary manufacturing demand. Or maybe it means being more selective about the products you offer and the vendors you work with. I don`t know, but I do know in order for a business to really shift their own environmental impact, they need to ask really difficult questions.

    I`ll apply this to myself, too. I`m a marketer. I also happen to be a huge fan of the late comedian Bill Hicks, who loved to scream that marketers "are the ruiners of all things good." So, how do I change my business model to an ethical, environmentally sound one? For starters, I target social entrepreneurs and nonprofits. I tend to avoid working with retail clients so I don`t feel like I`m pushing more unnecessary stuff on the public. It absolutely has cost me money on occasion, but it has also profited my business in that it builds my credibility and attracts more of the kind of clients I do want to work with. But it also means that even if I had the opportunity to work with, say, Nike, my own business model would dictate that I turn down the work. Although I`ve got specific purchasing policies in place to ensure my supply chain addresses the sustainability issue, I`m also in the process of putting together formal policy for accepting projects. This may seem kind of backwards from a business perspective, but I believe strongly that the traditional business models need to change if we`re going walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

    Okay, to answer your final question, unfortunately there aren`t many choices outside of MBAs when it comes to sustainable business management. My local SBA offers a course, and I earned a certificate through a state college here. But it`s painfully incomplete in my opinion (I`m actually toying with the idea of going the MBA route but the expense is, well, it`s a bridge I have yet o jump off of). Not sure of what`s around you specifically, but you might check the following:
    So, you`re probably sick of reading this post by now - thanks for your patience with me. And much luck to you!

    J.

    ---
    Roughstock Studios | Notes From the Rodeo | Newsletter
    Strategic communications without the selling of souls.

    • 35 posts
    March 10, 2012 5:07 PM EST

     

    As for AC, it also serves to heat the outdoor air temperature—all those AC units going actually does increase the city heat!

    Cat, I wonder what would happen if you pulled your hp 56 ink cartridges between uses and kept them in sealed (reused, of course!) platic bags? It`s a pain, but maybe les sof a pain than having to replace them all?


    —J.


    -------------------------

    Roughstock Studios | Notes From the Rodeo | Newsletter
    Strategic communications without the selling of souls.

    Well, they can recycle a lot of office supplies that is not being used. There are a lot of things and stuff that can be done for a business owners to be environmental friendly.

    ---
    OurHomeLoans

    • 335 posts
    June 19, 2007 4:37 PM EDT
    thecat,

    can you ask jess to post here so we can benefit from her perspectives within our forums? that would be ideal as we try to build an emphasis on green business...

    ---
    Rich Sloan , Co-Founder, Chief Startupologist, StartupNation

    • 38 posts
    January 29, 2013 9:26 PM EST

    The most convenient way to get began on a green program is to look at your power intake as a resource for prospective benefits. Most small businesses consume more power than required. Decreasing your energy bill gives that dual benefit you will need, preserving not only natural sources but money as well.

    ---
    Market Research | Market Report | Industry Analysis

  • September 30, 2007 4:57 PM EDT
    The greatest impact on the earth comes from reduing use of energy.

    1. Check lighting - companies like WSI Lighting can help you invest in
    fixtures that use less energy, you get more life out of the bulbs, and they
    are brighter creating a brighter, cleaner work environment.

    2. Check insulation and sealing - if you own the building, you can find
    an energy auditor who can give you ideas on how to reduce usage and
    make the environment more comfortable.

    3. Start a recycled paper program, recycle tin cans and plastic water
    bottles, recycle cardboard.

    4. If you are redecorating, use zero-VOC products - Flor carpeting and
    Harmony paint from Sherwin Williams are both great products.

    5. Change the cleaners to eco-friendly products which are non-toxic to
    the workers in the office.

    That`s just a beginning.

    You can keep watch of my site for more info, I`ll be adding more and
    more to the site. www.sagebgreenenergy.com

    Thanks and good luck!
    Julianna

    ---
    Sincerely,

    Julianna Sauber
    www.sagebgreenenergy.com
    www.sauberandsons.com

  • June 17, 2008 4:04 AM EDT
    Hello all,
     We recently came across a product that is unbelievable in cleaning applications. The name of it is "Awesome" It is a spray cleaner.We found it in a Dollar Store and tried it. It is 100% organic and has a pleasant smell. There are no chemicals in it at all. We would recommend it to all.

    Hope this helps.
    Paul

    ---
    Sell your excess,dead-stock merchandise quickly.

    http://www.sellmyinventory.com
    http://www.h1n1virusfacts.com

    • 4 posts
    July 1, 2008 9:30 PM EDT
    Wow, great ideas!  How about `greening` your promotional programs?  When most people think about going green, the last thing that usually comes to mind is trash and trinkets or, otherwise known as tchotchkees!

    At Beyond Zebra Inc. we help Hollywood and fortune 100 companies green their marketing programs one tchotchkee at a time!  A giveaway doesn`t have to be a throw-away.  If you make thoughtful choices in your marketing you can increase brand awareness, increase ROI, AND save the planet.

    Here are some things to consider on your next promotional product purchase:
    *  Reduce paper consumption and your carbon footprint by sending clients/prospects USB drives instead of proposals and printed brochures

    *  Utilize a fast growing plant material like bamboo for uniforms or company apparel - it is not only sustainable but is also a natural anti-microbial 

    *  Choose organic cotton tshirts and hats for online company stores- conventional cotton is one of the worse crops for the environment.  It gobbles up 10% of the worlds agricultural chemicals, 25% of the insecticides, 3% of our land; that`s more than any other crop per unit.  That adds up to 1/3 of a pound of chemicals to produce enough cotton for one tshirt! 

    *   Opt for Post-consumer recycled PET (made from recycled soda bottles and plastics and woven with cotton) tote bags for trade show giveaways.

    *   Stop purchasing paper plates, cups and utensils for your employee kitchens.  Instead, purchase glass and ceramic that can be reused over and over and eventually recycled.  If dish washing just won`t happen, go for corn based products that are compostable.

    *  Purchase local whenever possible.  This reduces shipping costs and your carbon footprint

    *  Keep it simple -  Choose products that don`t require excessive packaging, clamshells, etc.  

    * When shipping large quantities, don`t request special pack outs (ie-smaller number of pieces per carton or adding inner cartons).  This increases waste and increases your shipping costs.

    No matter what your budget, you can find ways to be green.  It just takes research, research, research!

    Happy greening!
    -Stacy

    PremiumGuru7/3/2008 7:43 PM
    • 4 posts
    July 3, 2008 3:44 PM EDT
    Wow, let me wipe the tire marks off my forehead!   We are certainly not new to the eco-movement.  We have been producing repurposed and post consumer recycled products for over 10 years.  In addition, we have always been an environmentally conscience office (over 75% of our employees either takes public transit or telecommutes, we have installed timed lighting system in all offices, we recycle, and reuse office furniture & equipment from other businesses that normally would be thrown away, etc.).  At this point, we are taking it to the next level (since we are out of ideas) and are currently in the process of formalizing our sustainability plan.  Our business is being evaluated by an environmental consultant and we will be implementing a plan with metrix and goals.  So, hopefully we are doing our part here in the office, as well as what we produce for our clients.

    Having said all that, I am more than happy to admit that I have a lot to learn.   We all do.  I have spoken with friends who are environmental consultants and people who I consider to be experts and even they admit that that the more you learn, the more you don`t know when it comes to environmental issues.  There is always another angle, another viewpoint, another way of thinking that you may not have realized.  IE - the heated discussions on forums about the Prius, is it REALLY environmentally friendly when you consider the production and disposal of the batteries? 

    My point is, I think we are all here to learn from each other.  So I will graciously accept your criticism and with it ask that you excuse my mistakes that I make along the way.  I will ask more questions and try to keep my proverbial vegan shoe out of my mouth!  Deal?

    I have a question about education and training for you, Roughstock.  I`ve read cradle to cradle and Silent spring (although that one was many many years ago), and many of these types of books.  However, I`m interested in a more classroom type of sustainability management training in the So Cal area.  Besides going back for an MBA or the like, is there anything that you can recommend?

    PremiumGuru7/4/2008 1:59 AM
    • 5 posts
    June 19, 2007 1:32 PM EDT
    It`s exciting to see that Startup Nation has included a green section!

    I`d like to introduce Jess Sand, who has a column on at BoDo - The Sustainable Studio.

    Her latest post, Substantial Profits, Sustainably (Part 1),
    shares tips on how we, as business owners, can do to go green.

    The post is aimed at the design audience at BoDo, but as you`ll soon see, most business owners can use her tips.

    And while I`m here, I`d like to share another great resource, Design Can Change.



    ---
    Catherine Morley | Project Manager
    BoDo: Business of Design online

    • 5 posts
    June 19, 2007 4:46 PM EDT
    Rich,

    You beat me to it. I was so busy chatting with Jess via email and on another forum, I forgot to let her know I shared her bits here.


    ---
    Catherine Morley | Project Manager
    BoDo: Business of Design online

    • 5 posts
    June 20, 2007 3:40 PM EDT
    I`m in the tropics so I`ve had ceiling fans put in all rooms. Hopefully this will stop the use of ac.

    I`ve also installed latticing outside main windows to cut down on the sun coming in. Lined curtains cut down the rest.

    And of course, like Jess mentioned, I`ve had lights taken out and energy lights installed in their place.

    I use taxi and public transport (skytrain and underground), owning a gas hog is not on my horizon. And of course, I walk whenever possible.

    Cutting down on printing is a good suggestion. I`ve never printed out emails, but I do print speeches and reports when needed. Paper is reused for handwritten notes or sketches. I`ve grown used to not printing out these days, so at times months go by and the ink dries up before I can use it again. This is a major problem and I`m not sure how to get around that one. Ink is not cheap (I have an Epson, not sure if that matters).


    ---
    Catherine Morley | Project Manager
    BoDo: Business of Design online

    • 5 posts
    June 20, 2007 9:05 PM EDT
    I dislike having ac on all the time as it makes living in a hot climate unbearable. How? Because if you work and sleep under ac, getting out and about feels extra hot because you body is used to the cool.

    But, in the hot months (40°++), I`m forced to use a bit of ac. I turn it on to take the stifling heat out of a room, then shut it off and use a fan only.

    In the cooler season, my ac won`t be used at all. Well, unless I have visitors, then I sympathise as they are not used to the heat out here.

    As for lights in the ceiling fan - I opted out when told that it`s the lights that are the main culprits when it comes to noise. There is nothing more annoying than a creaking fan!

    ---
    Catherine Morley | Project Manager
    BoDo: Business of Design online

    • 5 posts
    October 1, 2007 4:11 PM EDT
    As for AC, it also serves to heat the outdoor air temperature�all those AC units going actually does increase the city heat! Cat, I wonder what would happen if you pulled your ink cartridges between uses and kept them in sealed (reused, of course!) plastic bags? It`s a pain, but maybe less of a pain than having to replace them all?


    Jess, I didn`t realise that about the outside temperature. Makes sense though.

    I`m most likely wrong, but I vaguely remember the instructions saying that you can`t put used cartridges back. It`d be great if we could as I`m tired of the expense of buying new just because they`ve dried out.
    thecat2007-10-1 21:14:5

    ---
    Catherine Morley | Project Manager
    BoDo: Business of Design online

    • 141 posts
    June 20, 2007 4:31 AM EDT

    Roughstock glad to joined the forum. I have an idea for going green, Stop printing. Yep I see it all the time people print emails, simple funny photos, etc. ONLY use the printer when it`s absolutely necessary. Uuse PDF`s or overhead projectors to reduce meeting document print costs and as always use recycled paper.

    Oh and one more, when your bored, go plant a tree.

    ---
    He who gets greedy like a pig, gets slaughtered like a hog!

    • 7 posts
    May 22, 2008 7:25 AM EDT
    great stuff going green and like all the info
                                                           thank you

    ---
    www.r n l landscape.org
    vernonlucas@hotmail.com