The Tentacles of Going Green

April 1, 2008

As Green Business Alliance continues to evolve, we're learning a great deal along the way, particularly with respect to how our mission is being viewed by those who are hearing about us. The response thus far has been exceptionally favorable, and there have been some interesting revelations along the way.

One thing we've learned is that curiosity abounds within businesses as to what it actually means to Go Green. With the exception of businesses which are somehow already involved with the movement (i.e. selling green products or services), very few of the people we speak with have a handle on even the basics. Although some folks might see that as disappointing, we believe it further validates the importance of Green Business Alliance today. These passionate folks have been sharing our story with their peers and that has led to people reaching out to us who are far removed from the original source.

What we've also discovered is that businesses who decide to participate in our program and who share their Green vision with their teams are stimulating interest with employees in actually Greenifying their homes. When we launched the Green Home Alliance, we didn't have the foresight to predict that many of those looking to Greenify their homes would emanate from our business clients. Given the reach of the internet, this isn't surprising, but given the grass roots nature of our efforts, it is very rewarding nonetheless.


Earth Day Resolution # 3 - Thirst for Eco-friendly Water Bottles

March 24, 2008

Whether you are a business owner or an employee or a chief executive mom, we can each make a positive environmental impact by choosing our drinking water thoughtfully. The recommended water intake per person per day is about 60 ounces (between six and seven glasses). Water is definitely a healthy and necessary daily drink to keep our bodies hydrated. However, the type of water we drink and the item from which we sip our water makes a huge difference.

Did you know that in the United States alone, we consume more than 2.5 million bottles of water every hour, and only approximately 10% are actually recycled? The other 90 percent of water bottles end up in landfills where it takes thousands of years for the plastic to decompose.

Consider tapping into a less costly means of staying hydrated. Drink tap water from a glass or a stainless steel reusable bottle. For those who prefer filtered water, invest in a filtration system for the home and/or office and drink it from a glass. You might be surprised to know that bottled water is not always cleaner and healthier than tap water. If you find that hard to believe, check the EPA's website.

With just one month until Earth Day, think about making a resolution to eliminate those plastic 'recyclable' water bottles and opt for an eco-friendly glass of tap water instead, well actually, 6 eco-friendly glasses of tap water a day!


Is Going Green An Investment Or An Expense?

March 20, 2008

Turn the dial back a couple of years and the notion that a mainstream company (as opposed to an obvious polluter) would make modifications to the way they operate their business, in an effort to become increasingly sensitive to the environment would have seemed like a far-fetched idea.

With similar hindsight, the concept that purchasers (be they consumers or businesses) would factor the "greenness" of a company into their decision-making process would have been equally outlandish.

In just a few short years, the recognition of the importance of Going Green has been significant, yet it's still in its infancy. Trying to make heads or tails of what it means to become Green remains fuzzy for many people, including grasping the proper perspective to embrace the costs involved. Are they actually costs or are they part of a branding process to help define a company (i.e. marketing)? Please refer back to our blog post from last Monday regarding Whole Foods.

At the end of the day, Going Green is all good. Most importantly, it is the right thing to do from an "eco" perspective, but it may also be beneficial to the business in a number of other ways. So although Going Green may result in some incremental costs, those funds could plausibly be viewed as an investment rather than an expense.


Earth Day Resolution #2 – Whole Foods Takes A Big Step; What Can Your Business Do?

March 12, 2008

In late January, Whole Foods announced that they were going to cease offering plastic grocery bags to customers, effective on Earth Day (April 22, 2008). Instead, customers are being encouraged to purchase reusable shopping bags at Whole Foods or elsewhere.

From a business owner’s perspective, this is a very bold move. It’s usually not a great idea to add an obstacle to the sales process, and that is exactly what Whole Foods has done. The theory is that if you make it less convenient for a customer to buy something, then they will find somewhere else to buy it.

I believe Whole Foods will disprove that notion and to the contrary, increase customer loyalty through this initiative. Unlike many other markets, I always find that there’s a buzz when I walk into Whole Foods. People seem to really enjoy shopping there and part of that is their significant focus on promoting organic food and messaging throughout the store that is environmentally conscious. I would be willing to wager that the average Whole Foods customers share these philosophies and are prepared to go through the extra steps involved in bringing their own (reusable) bags each time they shop.

In honor of Earth Day 2008, business owners should consider making a pledge to truly understand the mindsets of their customers and make decisions that will benefit the company, the customer and the environment. Be Bold. Go Green. Benefit. If you would like to read more about the Whole Foods program, please click here, http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/byobag/.


Sticky Fingers and a Blue Trash Can

March 3, 2008

Having just returned from a week outside of the office, I was thrilled to walk into the kitchen to see that someone was kind enough to bring in a dozen fresh donuts. I went looking for a plastic knife, as my philosophy for eating donuts is that it’s less fattening to eat one in pieces (even if I wind up eating the whole thing).

My search for a plastic knife was unsuccessful, and then I remembered that part of our internal effort to become a Green office was to finish our current supply and then transition to actual silverware that you have to bring from home, and then take home to wash. Needless to say, I was unprepared for the change in regimen and as a result was forced to break apart the donut with my fingers. I wonder whether the resulting use of a paper towel (recycled of course!) after I washed my sticky fingers was as anti-green as if I had used a plastic knife in the first place.

Another change I noticed was the appearance of a blue trash can under my desk. After inquiring with my peers, I found out that it is specifically for paper, magazines, newspapers, junk mail etc. that can be recycled. I now have a bit less legroom under my desk, but am pleased that I have taken another step in our quest to operate as a Green office.


REC’s – Dollars and Sense

February 25, 2008

RECs, Renewable Energy Credits, Green Tags, Tradable Renewable Certificates, Renewable Energy Certificates. What does it all mean? Let’s begin with the basics of renewable energy (also referred to as clean energy). There are varying forms of this energy which are derived from resources that can not be depleted. In other words, these resources are naturally replenished. Wind and Solar power are two common examples of renewable/clean energy. Biomass, Biodiesel, and Geothermal are also types of clean energy. 

So what exactly is a REC (Renewable Energy Certificate) and how much does one cost? According to Wikipedia’s definition of Renewable Energy Certificates, RECs are “tradable environmental commodities that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource. These certificates can be sold and traded and the owner of the REC can claim to have purchased renewable energy.” Businesses and individuals can buy these RECs whether or not they have access to clean energy.

The cost of the REC depends on which type of renewable energy one is interested in purchasing. The price of these renewable energies can fluctuate. The quantity of the RECs purchased is often determined by how much electricity a business or home uses over a period of time. The REC provider will help you with the calculation. Suffice it to say that RECs are not super expensive. For example, a business I know recently purchased RECs to offset their yearly energy consumption in their 6,000 square foot office. The total amount of the RECs was less than $350 for the year.

The bottom line is that purchasing RECs makes good business and environmental sense without breaking the bank.


GreenVisibility Directory Vision

February 19, 2008

Our objective for establishing the GreenVisibility Directory is to provide businesses who commit to becoming Greenified with a well promoted platform to showcase their products and services. We also intend to incorporate a series of Community features to further interweave the companies and broaden their reach with interested businesses and consumers.

Although promoting a Green Directory is a new endeavor, it is well within our scope of expertise, as Green Business Alliance’s founders have been heavily involved with the Interactive Marketing industry since 1999. Their company, www.morevisibility.com has been a recognized leader in the Search Engine Marketing and Optimization arena since inception. With that experience as a backdrop, the plan is to develop a national directory of businesses that place a significant emphasis on following basic principles to Greenify their businesses.

The essence of the Directory will be its eventual reach and community-like features. Over (what we hope) will be a very compressed period of time, major growth and evolution will occur. The larger the number of companies who participate in the Green Business Alliance program, the greater the footprint of the directory will be.

There is stronger momentum for companies to Greenify their businesses now than ever before. Green Business Alliance is taking the lead in bringing together these like-minded business professionals to flourish online through a community enabled directory. More details on the community dimension to follow in the near future.


Go Green And Boost Employee Satisfaction

February 15, 2008

Like with so many other things in life, it is easier to act tomorrow than today about the environment. The planet was here before any of us, and contrary to a lot of the doom and gloom being spread, will be here when we leave.

 That being said, businesses play a very important role in the lives of their employees as well as in their community and with customers. An employer who commits to becoming a Green company sends a clear message that they are forward thinkers, which carries with it important benefits.

Wells Fargo Bank is one of many large corporations who has made a staunch commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Although environmental issues are just a component of CSR, Wells Fargo has made a significant investment in outlining and abiding by a CSR platform. For a detailed report on their initiatives, please click here.

Although most businesses do not have the resources to engage in such a large scale initiative, we believe that even a modest effort can have a significant impact on employee satisfaction and consequently the success of the business.   


The Stairs – a Green and Healthy Choice

February 12, 2008

Believe it or not, there are more beneficiaries of Greenifying than simply our environment and your business. Some Green steps can directly impact your health. For instance, let’s examine your method of transportation to and from work. Yes, if one is able to bike or walk to work rather than drive, obviously the reduced emissions from the vehicle benefit the environment. Engaging in aerobic activity in lieu of driving a car for your commute benefits your heart and body.

Here is another easy way to help the environment while helping your heart. Stairs! If your office is above the first floor, take the stairs rather than the elevator. Walking up to your office will burn some calories while at the same time save the electrical energy used during each push of the elevator. It may not seem like a big sacrifice (unless, of course, your office is on the 90th floor!) but the rewards are both healthy and environmentally beneficial. On average, a 3 minute walk up the stairs burns about 25 calories. Greenify – for the environment, your business, and your health!


Recycled Paper Travails

February 9, 2008

Going Green will require a company to modify some of the ways that it operates, and sometimes this may require a bit of an adjustment, but these steps are not too onerous and tend to be well supported by employees. For example, switching to recycled paper (for printing) is an obvious item on any company’s to-do list. From a practical perspective, this simply involves swapping one kind of paper for another whenever printer paper is purchased.

The adjustment referenced above is not just related to purchasing a different type of paper. Since the paper is thinner it is sometimes harder for the printer to grab a single sheet at a time and as a result, multiple pages may be passed through. It doesn’t jam the printer, but there may be blank pages within the document that is being printed. If this happens, just reuse those sheets and that way, nothing will be wasted and the benefits associated with using recycled paper will remain intact. 


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