Is Your Business Green and Does It Pay to Go Green

Going Green - Complexities and Realities

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The general movement toward a more sustainable society is not a trend. Companies are slowly beginning to play larger role in making their products green as people become more educated about the consequences surrounding wasteful and harmful environmental practices. Consumers want to do good by the environment and companies play a large role in their ability to help make our world greener.

Is your business green?

Production of green products is a good first step for companies, but the ability to operate on a day to day basis while minimizing waste will assure consumers that you aren’t just talking the talk, but walking the walk. The massive shift toward a greener lifestyle can be seen clearly. In the UK, there was a 54% rise in consumers buying more sustainable products between 2007 and 2009*. With issues like global warming, high oil prices and harmful landfills plaguing the earth, company’s need to do their part by looking at how or if they are helping or harming the earth.

Consumers want to go green for many reasons: care for future generations, stylishness or cost-effectiveness (in some cases). Naturally it should become a priority for a company to shift with the consumer and fill the green void in their product line. Some common and easy ways to do so for small business are reducing waste (especially water, paper and energy usage) and seeking energy efficient and recycled  products such as ink and toner cartridges, paper products, cleaning chemicals, lighting and electronics water.

Additionally, the energy industry is changing rapidly as people set out to use renewable energy. Using the sun and wind to harness energy cuts down on carbon dioxide waste while saving money on other energy sources like gasoline. Cutting out less efficient sources of energy will be seen as a positive by consumers and should be strived for by all companies.

Is it easy to go green?

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Companies with large factories have a difficult task ahead of them if they hope to appease consumers and become green. Factories are notorious for their pollution of the air and their role in damaging the o-zone layer. There is not much a factory can do to reduce the pollution they produce, but giving their product a life cycle assessment is a step in the right direction**. Even if a company chooses a recyclable material to wrap its product, the actual production may produce too much carbon dioxide or waste too much water. Taking steps to make every little process involved in a company greener will be commended by consumers.

On the other hand, small businesses often face challenges such as lack of time and options, cost and quality of products when attempting to go green.

Companies need to do their best to produce as little landfill as possible. The task seems daunting but even massive operations like Unilever have been able to reduce landfill waste from their facilities to nothing***. The effort required incredible creativity and reorganization, but it’s this type of hard work that attracts the attention of consumers wanting to choose specifically responsible companies. Switching to biodegradable products would help any company make the same steps as Unilever. Biodegradable materials like origo not only reduce into a safe fertilizer, but they will help reduce the use of petroleum by replacing petroleum based plastics. It would also benefit a company by helping them avoid the volatile prices of petroleum and petroleum based plastics.

 Does it pay to go green?

Five top reasons for doing so.

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  • Moral obligation

With increasing environmental consciousness, it has become a moral imperative to go green and give back to society.  It may not be your top reason for Going Green, but it definitely is the main push behind sustainable living.  Why? Simply because if there is no planet, there will be no business. While the ultimate intention of going green is to have the ‘doing good’ feeling, there are definitely some tangible benefits too.

  • Increase Brand Equity

Businesses that incorporate green practices gain the favour of like-minded consumers, employees, regulators, and the larger community. A positive public image in this growing trend of environmental consciousness is a big if not the best benefit of going green. It increases brand equity free of charge. Not only will positive brand equity increase sales and profits, more crucially, it will help the business in times of crises when no amount of advertisements or product pricing will help.

  • Customers and Increase Sales

People care about the environment and they love businesses that care too. Customers actually demand that business adopt green practices. Going green bring in new customers and retain existing customers. It builds customer loyalty.  When like-minded individuals see you making a strong effort towards a good cause, they want to support you and shop at your store as they feel they will also be contributing towards the cause. Due to this growing consciousness, the market share for green products will continue to grow.  

  • Reduce Operating Costs and Increase profit margins

The main areas of waste reduction are water, paper and energy. There are many ways of doing this, such as installing sensor touch taps, using the electronic medium to communicate with employees and customers, and using energy efficient bulbs for example.  Smaller businesses can also benefit from reduced energy costs by taking simple steps like shutting off lights and computers when they're not in use. Operating bills will go down and profit margins will increase. According to MSNBC.com, chemical manufacturer DuPont saved over $3 billion over two decades by reducing carbon emissions.

  • Employees

Just like customers, environmentally conscious young professionals seek businesses that are environmentally responsible. Businesses are better able to attract and retain talented employees. In addition, with green practices such as using non-toxic air fresheners and cleaners, taking advantage of natural light, organic food selections in the company cafeteria workplace ambience improves and the atmosphere becomes healthy.  This results in less absenteeism due to sickness.  What do you get when the workplace is healthy and the business culture is in sync with the employees’ mindset?  You get satisfied and loyal employees with high morale and hence increased productivity.

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* https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cif-green/2009/nov/29/climate-change-european-commission

** http://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/how-green-is-green-38311

*** http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/interview/2431278/how-unilever-achieved-zero-waste-to-landfill-across-europe