Back to School? You’ll Need New Friends!

September 9, 2009

Millions of American school children head back to the classroom this week.  Their parents have bought them new clothes and supplies, helped sharpen the pencils and load the backpacks, and given them advice on making new friends.  But have we thought about making new friends of our own lately?  Have we thought about making green friends?

It’s always great to have new friends.  And sometimes, it’s best to go out of your way to find friends with similar interests and intents, such as Greenification.  It’s easy to go green with a group.  But how do you make great green friends?

In Washington, D.C., there are numerous green social groups such as “Green Drinks,”  “Tree Hugger Happy Hour,” and “DC EcoWomen.”  All are for environmentally-minded after-hours get-togethers.  

There are clubs for getting together outdoors, such as “The Wanderbirds,” “Capital Hiking Club,” and “Potomac Pedalers.”

And my personal favorite, volunteer groups like the “Chesapeake Climate Action Network,” “Fairfax ReLeaf,” and the “Potomac Conservancy.” 

Additionally, there are meeting groups posted online at websites such as www.meetup.com, which hosts dozens of get-togethers with information about where and when posted for all members to see.

That’s just one area.  But it could be your area, if you started a group.  It doesn’t take much.  Print 5-10 flyers (sorry to go “old school” on you!) and post them in the most conspicuous places in your community.  You won’t need many because you’re just going for starting within your community. 

Also, check out any web bulleting boards, such as craigslist or your local community center for places to post about your interest.  You’ll find others who share your interest and may have some tips and information for making your Greenification experience better. 

So get out there and get started.  You may start something much bigger than you expect.  Because these days, doesn’t it seem that all things green are growing?


Top 10 Green Universities

September 2, 2009

It's back to school time around the country - not only for secondary schools but also for colleges and universities. If you have been wondering about which schools are doing their part to reduce their environmental impact on our planet, you should read Lori Bongiorno's - Top 10 greenest universities.

To view the entire story please visit green.yahoo.com.


The High Carbon Cost of Kids

August 31, 2009

Want to cut your carbon footprint? Don't have any kids. No, of course we're not serious. If nobody had any children, life would come to a stop and who knows when the next Albert Einstein, Ralph Waldo Emerson or Anne Frank will be born? But I thought we'd take a look at a few of the effects of having a child around the world. A new study from Oregon State University outlines the high carbon cost of having children.
 
The average American woman who has a baby generates a carbon footprint seven times that of a similar age and sized Chinese woman who has a child. Why? Well, the obvious idea is that the average American woman gives birth in a hospital, surrounded by half a dozen doctors, nurses, aides and other support staff, while the average Chinese woman has her child in humbler circumstances, perhaps with a midwife or a family member by her side.

But the reality is that the estimate is based on how many children the American woman is likely to have: at least two. And each of those children are also likely to have offspring. And so on. And so on.

Even if our American parent does his/her best to Greenify by driving a smaller car, carpooling, recycles, and replaces all her appliances with energy efficient models, when she has two children, the researchers found, her carbon legacy eventually rises to nearly 40 times what she had saved by those actions.

"In discussions about climate change, we tend to focus on the carbon emissions of an individual over his or her lifetime," said Paul Murtaugh, a professor of statistics at O.S.U., in a statement accompanying the study’s release. "Those are important issues and it’s essential that they should be considered. But an added challenge facing us is continuing population growth and increasing global consumption of resources."

When you consider how many stuffed bears and tigers each child needs and the usage of disposable diapers and infant formula as opposed to breast feeding (which is unquestionably the better option for both environment, mother and child but far more frequently done in foreign countries than in the United States) the numbers climb even more.

There are some things we can change. We can put in energy efficient lightbulbs. We can drink tap water and carpool and buy papertowels made from recycled paper. We can learn to plan our meals and budget our trips in the car and go back to renting movies that we'll only watch a couple of times anyway. And we should, right?

But we're going to keep having children, aren't we? Because otherwise, who are we Greenifying for?


The Big Apple: Red or Green?

August 13, 2009

Have you thought about whether it’s time to Greenify your logo?   Apparently, someone is giving it someone in New York’s City Hall is giving it some thought.   The city’s leaders are asking should the Big Apple’s Official Apple be green?  I think the answer is stunningly simple.

New York City has been referred to as “The Big Apple” since the 1920’s when a sportswriter at the New York Morning Telegraph first popularized the nickname. It was in reference to the city’s horse tracks, referred to as ‘The Big Apple’ at the time. Since then, hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of t-shirts, refrigerator magnets, baseball caps and other logo items have been sold, depicting a red “Big Apple.”

But with studies showing that consumers are willing to pay more for things sold with an environmental pitch, the time is ripe for one of the most recognizable logos in the world to go green.   The city had a recent campaign promoting its environmental efforts that used a green apple logo, but hasn’t made the full change itself.  Maybe it’s time to do that now.

It truly does seem obvious, doesn’t it?  In the last year, we’ve seen the emphasis on all things green growing like a, well, like a weed.   We’ve seen the numbers of reusable grocery bags growing.  Reusable water bottles in metal and glass are coming to the market as consumers try to stop the glut of plastics in our environment.  And the government is buying back clunkers to get them off our streets in an effort to diminish our carbon footprint.

On a personal note, I’ve noticed myself becoming more focused on Greenifying my life.  In the past year, I’ve bought green sneakers, green eyeglasses, a green purse, a green t-shirt (twice!) and green dinner plates.  Looking around my house, you’d think something is up.  But I think it’s a new level of consciousness creeping out into my spending habits.  And by the way, I bought a good number of those things at second-hand stores.   It was fun!

The backers of this particular effort to get The Big Apple to go green are growers of a particular type of apple, known as the Newtown Pippin, which is a mottled green and often lopsided.  In other words, it’s said to be great eating, excellent in homemade pies and usually organically grown. 

We are going green in this culture.  And maybe it’s time the city of New York, which leads in so many ways, picked up the ball and pitches.  Or offers us all a Big, Beautiful Green Apple.


Growing Your Business Online

August 11, 2009

Now that your business is Greenified, let’s talk about growing its reputation online.  That’s part of your plan, right?   You hoped to market the business online, saving a few trees, the chemicals involved in printing up materials, and the energy involved in getting those items to your customers all along.

So let’s talk about how to do that.  First, get a website.  If you can’t afford to have it done professionally, you can start a blog for free.  Put up the blog and post links to it with comments on other similar blogs around the internet.  Hook it up with an RSS feed.  Do you know what that is?  RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, which allows people to see what you are talking about on a text or email feed.  You can also start a Twitter account and use that to communicate with your customers.  Think about it: being able to instantly notify your customers or followers that you are having a sale or special on a particular item, letting them know what you’re offering.

Those are the technical basics, but let’s also look at what’s being said about your business and you. Do a vanity search of your business name and see what comes up. Are you easy to find? What is the first impression?

Is your business reviewed in online forums or blogs?  Set up some electronic alerts.  You can pay a service to do this, or do it simply by setting up a Google account and asking it to send you alerts every time something is said about you or y our business online.

“Know who the influencers are,” said Pete Blackshaw, executive vice president of Nielsen Online Digital Strategic Service and an expert on consumer-generated media. “There are going to be some megaphones that matter more than others.”

Online reviews are a gold mine of business intelligence. There are metrics to analyze to get a better sense of your customer demographics.  You’ll find those on any website you buy or included in the blog set up that you use. 

With a little bit of your time and some sweat equity, you can easily put yourself out there.  And don’t forget to remind your customers online that you are a green business.  It’s the hottest selling ticket there is to customer’s hearts and wallets.


Cash for Clunkers

August 6, 2009

We’d like to bring your attention to a new government program that may only be in place for a very short time.  If you want to take advantage of the “Cash for Clunkers” program, you’ll need to hop on it quickly. 

The Car Allowance Rebate System, or “Cash for Clunkers” is one of the few federal stimulus programs that everyone seems to be onboard with.  It’s a federal program that will credit you up to $4,500 to trade in your old car for a more fuel-efficient model. 

There are some restrictions, but this wildly popular program has few downsides.  President Barack Obama says the program “has succeeded well beyond our expectations and all expectations.” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood claims “this is the stimulus program that has worked better than any other stimulus program that was conceived.”

And like a lot of green programs, it works from a multitude of angles. 

When the recession began, the U.S. auto industry was already in trouble.   Gas prices, which had skyrocketed the year before, were making American-made cars unpopular.  Car sales, already flagging, dropped to almost immeasurable.   By pumping money into getting Americans to spend on cars, we get the economy moving and shrink our carbon footprint by getting gas-guzzling cars off the road and out of commission. 

The program was clipping along with sales so good that it appeared it would run out of money just as it was starting.  Its $1 billion budget was projected to run out, prompting the House of Representatives to vote last week to authorize another $2 billion. But in the Senate, Republican senators say they will block more funding, calling it a waste.  That would be unfortunate.  Because ”Cash for Clunkers” stood for stimulating the economy and putting more Americans in the drivers’ seat with a lower cost to our environment.


Tips on Greenifying for Individual Employees, Part 2

August 3, 2009

More tips now on how to Greenify as an individual at the office.
 
1. E-Marketing to the Rescue

Have you checked out what a powerful marketing e-marketing could be?  The internet is a powerful driver of sales and leads - right down to the zip code level. Best of all, a lot of online marketing tools are cheap or free.  For instance, uh, we’ve found that blogs can get a message across pretty well, and they are very inexpensive to create and maintain.

2. Get a Green PC

There are some PC’s out there that consume 10% of the power  of a normal desktop.  These new PC’s are also inexpensive.  Add that to the energy savings and you’ll see the benefit from every angle.  And turn off even the “energy efficient” PC’s at the end of the day.  Every day.

3. Stay Informed

There are excellent resources to learn more ways to improve your green efforts that are specific to your industry. We’d like to help you learn more, so stay tuned in to the Green Business Alliance and we’ll help.   But don’t be afraid to look around the Internet.  “You can never have too much help in Greenifying.” 

4. Replace Less Efficient with New Energy Efficient

I guess this has become a main theme of mine.  I’ve always been an “economy minded” person, but now I see that energy economy has to win out.  Everything from new bulbs to appliances that are energy efficient can help.

5. Shop at other Green Businesses

They’re easier to spot than ever before because green marketing is the hottest trend out there. We’re all in this together, so it makes sense to seek out the locally produced food, products produced using recycled materials and any other Greenified product out there. 

We all want to Greenify.  If your business is working on shrinking its carbon footprint, you may be overlooking your employees.  Offer them these tips and see if they also want to Greenify not only in the office but also at home.  Chances are they’ll say yes.


Tips on Greenifying for Individual Employees, Part 1

July 28, 2009

We usually talk about how to Greenify a business and how to help green businesses succeed here at the Green Business Alliance blog.  But today, I thought we’d take a slightly different approach.

These are tips for how to Greenify work on the job at almost any job.  Shall we get started?

1. Telecommute and Work at Home (or in a fun place!)

Think about it: would you rather be in a cubicle wearing a tie?  Or in your kitchen with a laptop, wearing your pajamas with a cup of your favorite morning beverage?  Home business owners and other telecommuters save approximately 4,439 million gallons of gas per year.  If businesses allowed employees to work at home just one day a week, carbon footprints would go down and so would the impact on your back pocket. 

2. Stop Using Paper

You don’t like buying it and dragging it home, and you don’t like having to take it to the curb.  Stop using paper.  Keeping electronic records not only makes things easier for you, but it is GREAT for our forests. Get an eFax account and stop collecting that extra trash, even if it is for the recycler.

3. Play del.icio.us Tag

Remember Post-It notes?   I used to print out things I wanted to save, but not anymore. Now I use bookmark it in my Favorites file at home or tag it with del.icio.us, which allows me to carry my bookmarks from computer to computer without ever needing to dig for a Post-It note.

4. Stop Attending Meetings

Why bother leaving the building (home or office) when there are so many easy ways to conference online?   Skype offers free calls AND free conferencing.  If you need visuals, try a service like GoToMeeting , which provides online meeting and collaboration software.

5. Reduce Snail Mail

More and more companies now offer an electronic billing and other notifications. Request that all communications be sent via email rather than snail mail to reduce the paper sent to your business. And take advantage of email filtering to automatically send incoming messages to their proper folders to head off overstuffing your email box.

Individuals can Greenify, too, both at the office and at home.  And the best thing, you don’t have to be the boss or wait for a memo to get started.  We’ll have more of these tips later in the week, so be sure to check back.


Greenify Your Business Meetings

July 20, 2009

When was the last time you went to a professional conference?  Convention?  Community meeting?  Was it green?

According to a new survey of companies that manage associations and not-for-profit groups, four out of five such gatherings in 2008 were “greener” than in the previous year.  In addition, roughly one-third of organizations with plans in the works to meet say they are willing to increase their budgets to ensure a greener meeting.  That’s increase is being seen even in the current era of recessionary spending.

“In the tightening economy, where for-profit and not-for-profit companies alike are cutting back on resources and programming, it’s impressive that one-third of associations surveyed are increasing meeting budgets in the name of sustainability, according to John Francis, president of the Association Management Company (AMC) board of directors.  AMC books 29,000 meetings per year, including 2 million room nights and $1 billion in meetings and conventions annually.

AMC’s results show that the associations are committed to social responsibility and making the most of their meetings platforms and that increasingly, greening materials and meeting activities are sending an eco-friendly message to association members and convention-goers.

A green meeting incorporates environmental considerations to minimize negative impact on the environment.  In order to qualify as a “green meeting,” organizers must go beyond the basic “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” to include other innovative efforts to greenify. 

For example, some meeting planners go ‘paperless,’ and put all communications on the internet.  Their registration is online along with advertising on the Web.   Onsite registration and communication is also frequently electronic. 

When I mentioned that I had gone to a food technologist convention recently, one thing I didn’t mention (because it hadn’t happened at that time) was the ongoing outreach and advertising to clients.  Because they raffled things off at the convention using electronic registration, they got an email address for all interested participants.  The stream of email coming into my registration box has been almost endless since the convention closed.


Tweet, Tweet! Greenifying on Twitter

July 16, 2009

The more we use twitter.com here at the Green Business Alliance, the more useful we see it being in efforts to Greenify.  You can catch us on there and at Facebook, several times per week.  We think it’s a great way to communicate with our members and friends.  But I want to point out some other aspects of these great tools. 

You can learn about other green businesses on twitter.  No, not those “businesses” who are interested in adding thousands upon thousands of other twitter “followers” on their accounts in an endless race for more connections that somehow allow them to make money.  Half of the time, it’s a little un clear what they are doing that somehow makes this money.

No, we’re talking about serious things you can learn about on twitter by glancing through some of the follower lists.  The community there is fascinating, ever-changing and evolving, and they are coming up with amazing ideas for green businesses that you might like.   Just some of these names alone give our imagination flight:

  • Treebanker, which is twittered by Dan Teft focuses on helping businesses with carbon footprint problems.
  • MsGreenDarling, which is twittered by Green Girl Woman as she focuses on making small, personal green choices.
  • BestGreenBlogs, that’s Tim in Tennessee and seems to be self-explanatory.
  • GreenDesignsTV, which has a very cute logo page and lots of green activities going on.
  • Bamboo_Clothing, sounds a little scratchy but so sustainable!
  • MyGreenEarth, updated by Maria Tobing with lots of bio-earth tidbits and interesting music.
  • TheSolarCompany, focused on encouraging people to go solar.  One of their recent tweets is about bodily liquids rescuing hydrogen cars.  Hmmmm.
  • USClimateLaw, who is a very cool environmental attorney in Seattle.  His tweets link to his very informative blog.
  • BuilderScrap, which links to a website about saving costs and saving the environment.

We could go on and on, but the point is that YOU should go on.  Get on twitter and join our community. We like to send out twitters when we post our blogs or for occasional other announcements.  And we really think you’ll like checking out our community of followers. You might make some friends.  You might even learn something among all the articles and information being tweeted.

And it’s so easy.  You can link to our Twitter and Facebook pages from our homepage.


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