Green your business from the ground up
In this step, we will go beyond the Three R’s and learn how to apply what we’ve learned to the core business itself. We will list things you can do to make your business greener from the ground up.
Develop a green Mission, Vision and Values statement
State what you believe, your company’s “green” behavior, your core priorities and purpose for going green, and how your organization rises above others by being green.
Integrate “green” into the business plan
If you are a new business, this is the perfect time to integrate being green into the business plan. If you are an established business, it is time to revisit your business plan and rethink your strategy. Clearly state the ways in which your products or service offerings will be green as well as how the way you do business will be green. State how Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) plays a factor in your purchasing decisions.
Promote being green on your website
Add a separate web page that outlines all that you do to be green. Provide links to any green organizations you belong to. This is a good place to promote your green mission statement.
Add a logo and tag line to promotional materials
Are you certified? Say so! It doesn’t have to be wordy. Something as simple as “<company name> is a certified green business” will get the point across succinctly. Make sure to add any logos that you are certified to use.
Join a group! Get listed!
If you are a certified green business you might consider joining an organization that supports being green and adding your business listing to appropriate websites that promote green businesses. If you are trying to become green, these organizations provide good resources, forums, and ideas on how to solve your particular challenge. There are a number of reputable organizations to choose from.
Green your marketing efforts
Get a business website and e-mail address. Have professional business cards printed on recycled paper and use an environmentally responsible print shop. The same goes for any brochures, flyers, or other printed materials you will use. Leverage e-mail, telephone, voice mail, forums, blogs, and online advertising technologies to help promote your business instead of printed media and mailings. Avoid mass mailing, printed newspapers/magazines and the printed yellow pages. If you do mail out advertisements, use cards or tri-folds instead of envelopes.
Be prudent about where you spend your advertising money. There are a number of sites out there that are only in it for the “green” advertising dollars. There are even predatory companies that will contact you and try to talk you into featuring your business on their TV show or in their magazine. They will of course have to charge you for TV time or ad space in a little-known magazine.
Most sites that list green businesses have low-cost listings available or simply want a reciprocal link on your website, while others offer green content and have paid advertising. Do the research, check them out carefully, and don’t get burned. Try starting out slow by getting listed on a few low-cost popular sites to see what the response will be before committing a lot of money to a more costly listing.
Green your purchases
Buying green materials, products and services from local certified green businesses keeps the cycle going and helps you stay green. For items you use a lot of, buy in bulk. For items you use infrequently, but only what you need.
Green your bills
Send electronic bills or e-mail .PDF invoices to your clients instead of sending printed copies in the mail. Develop online forms instead of paper ones. Scan in forms or contracts and e-mail them. Perform banking transactions electronically online or via phone.
Make it easy and obvious
Provide clearly marked recycle bins in convenient locations. Provide recyclable materials next to each printer/copier/fax machine. Change the default settings on printers and copiers to automatically duplex (print double sided) print jobs. Stock the supply cabinet with office products containing at least 30% recycled content, such as paper, letterhead, folders, envelopes, tissues, paper towels, etc.
Become part of the green community
Being green makes you part of the green community. Post a question on a green forum to see what others have done. You will find that the green community has a lot of helpful ideas to offer your growing business.
Offer discounts to other green businesses. Share your successes with other businesses. Offer incentives to those who are trying to be green, such as discounts to other certified green businesses. If you serve drinks, offer a discount to those who bring their own cups. If you have a store front, offer a discount to those who bring their own shopping bags.
Education is key
Teach everyone in your company about your green mission statement, the “Three-Rs” (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle), and leverage their help in making changes to your business processes. You will find that they have a great deal to offer when it comes to “green” ideas. Use your business to promote being green to your employees, suppliers, customers and the community.