Many businesses hesitate to adopt green practices because they fear it will damage their bottom line and negatively impact profits. But the reality is that customers quite often scrutinize companies that they know do not actively make an effort to save the environment. For example, several years ago a leaked McKinsey and Co. study showed that nearly 10 percent of Wal-Mart customers stopped shopping there because of the company’s poor reputation (including its commitment to the environment).
Companies can also gain a competitive advantage over other competitors by differentiating themselves as a ‘Green’ company. Being environmentally conscious could actually bring in new customers, and these customers might even be willing to pay a bit more for a product or service from a company that is green. This can also generate an efficient and possible lower operating cost.
Many businesses already do things that are eco-friendly, not necessarily because they are sensitive to green living, but simply to save money. That does not, however, diminish the value of their green efforts. The trick for businesses is to be eco-friendly without compromising profitability. Every little thing helps-no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time!
From a company’s perspective, going green offers employees and other members the opportunity to influence the green movement. This could not only lead to contribution towards preserving the environment, but also boost morale amongst the employees. They will most likely be happy to know that they are making a small difference to our planet.
A major barrier is that many individuals do not understand the need for action, because they do not understand the environmental downfall issues or know what they can do to help. Their perception of the green movement may be wrong, making it seem inconvenient and negative. The best thing that you can do as a company is to inform your employees and colleagues what you are going to change, how simple these changes are, and how this will benefit everyone.
So, what can you immediately do to change your green credentials?
1. Carpooling – Encourage your employees to share lifts to and from work. This will reduce the carbon pollution from petrol that would be doubly as harmful if they were to drive individually. Or even better- encourage your colleagues to take the public bus or even to ride their bike to work, this will have an added benefit for their fitness as well as their carbon footprint!
2. Telecommuting and web-conferencing – Implement a way in which employees can communicate with each other and their clients. This could be something simple such as company telephones or webcams. Not only could it boost company morale, it will also reduce the amount of traveling your employees will do in order to meet with clients, etc.
3. Lights/ computers – Encourage employees to turn off all lights and computers when they are not in use. This will reduce the amount of electricity that they are using and will effectively save your company money too!
4. Route planning/ tracking – For any time that you do need to use your car for company business. Make sure to introduce vehicle tracking to your company cars. Not only does this allow you to plan your journeys better and more efficiently (saving petrol wastage in the long-run), it also allows you to keep your eye on your employees, and where they are actually going in your cars!
5. Electronic invoices – Introduce electronic invoices/ wage slips within the company. Instead of printing every single invoice, generate a ‘soft-copy’ that can be sent via e-mail. This will save the wastage of paper and the employee can choose to print it for their records if they wish to. This can also be used for clients too- sending quotes/statements via e-mail could not only improve your reputation as a green company- this will also save paper and unnecessary waste. This method will be easier to manage and most probably more convenient for your client.
These are all easy and relatively cheap ways to improve your green credentials immediately. So, get changing and get saving the planet!
Stephanie is a UK-based blogger who writes on a wide-variety of subjects including business and green issues. She is currently working on behalf of UK-based vehicle tracking company RAM tracking.