Becoming more ecologically responsible or going green is no longer just a matter of ethics. Businesses have come to realise that implementing environmentally friendly practices also makes good business sense. The significance of reducing one’s consumption, waste and carbon footprint is an opportunity to operate more efficiently whilst simultaneously impacting positively on the environment and community.
Staples Advantage, the Canadian B2B arm of large US office supply chain store Staples, has implemented an environmentally focused program called Fifty Green. This program was started after the company noticed the negative effect delivery services have on the environment. It aims to encourage customers to eliminate small orders, and subsequently also the amount of deliveries made to a certain area within a short time period. This is done by asking customers to combine their orders. An order charge is put on this combination of which half of the amount is donated to a company that plants trees. The Fifty Green program is not only convenient for the customer but saves on fuel, slows down vehicle depreciation and reduces administrative overhead costs.
E-commerce giant Amazon has made a lot of effort towards making their business green. This is especially evident when it comes to their packaging and shipping practices. They are currently using a special software program that assesses each purchased item’s weight and dimensions exactly to ensure that the perfect-sized box is chosen in order to help eliminate wasted material. All of their items are shipped in environmentally-friendly corrugated containers, and packing materials are not only recyclable but also made from 50% recycled content.
Lego is a toy company with a long history and no doubt a big carbon footprint. However, they have been working hard to become greener. They have already cut down on the sizes of their packages and made investments in wind power. Now they are focusing their efforts on the materials themselves. As part of a partnership with the environmental group WWF they now look closely at material composition, how materials are sourced and what happens to their products at the end of their life cycle.
Even big companies such as Procter & Gamble are doing their bit with 45 of their factories having achieved a “zero waste status”. This means these factories contribute nothing to landfills. Their remaining factories also fly the green flag for the environment. All materials that leave the factories are finished products or are recycled, reused and converted. This initiative is not only great for the environment but also produces extra revenue for the company. For example, rejected sanitary products are reworked into combustible fuel and then sold. So there’s no need to think of going green as a one-sided effort only benefiting those outside of the company.
Even if you’re not currently in a position to tackle a big project such as these companies we’ve mentioned have done, why not take a look at something simple you can do – reduced paper wastage. According to a study done by Xerox, 45% of all paper printed goes directly to the trash at the end of a working day. The majority of that doesn’t get recycled, instead ending up on landfills. Not only does large scale paper production cause deforestation but paper manufacturing is also the third largest contributor to pollution and uses more water per ton of product than any other industry.
These facts regarding paper consumption makes it difficult to argue for the use of paper in the workplace. Going paperless is something most businesses should be considering or actively implementing and technology is making this transition a lot easier. With the prevalence and ease-of-use of things like electronic ordering and document management software, apps and mobile devices, it is much simpler to go the paperless route than ever before. These options are now designed to be user-friendly so employee training should be minimal. They are also very cost-effective options especially if you’re going to be significantly reducing the need for paper, printers, ink and writing tools like pens.
Whether your business is big or small, going green has many benefits to please even the most practical amongst us. These include:
* Lower operating costs
Energy consumption, administrative overhead, disposal, recycling, equipment depreciation and maintenance costs can all potentially see a reduction from implementing green practices.
* Growth of business
Going green can be turned into an effective marketing tool to potentially raise both brand awareness and customer loyalty, and differentiate your business from competitors.
* Employee engagement
In a study led by the people at University of California in Los Angeles, it was found that employees who work for businesses that actively adopt and employ green practices are 16 percent more productive than the average. The same study showed that employees of environmentally-conscious businesses are more motivated, receive more training and engage in better interpersonal relationships.
* Risk mitigation
Companies who “go green” are less subject to fuel price rises, environmental regulation changes and environmental mandates from other large companies.