March: the Month of Green

March: the Month of Green

By Joe Bolick, UNI Business and Community Services

Green seems to be the unofficial color of March.  From the shamrocks and leprechauns of St. Patrick’s Day to the grass and foliage starting to wake up from its winter slumber, the color green will soon be everywhere. So why not add to it by also going green with your business practices?  Here are four things you can start today that will lessen your environmental impact and make your competitors green with envy.

1. Power Down 

One of the easiest moves you can make is to look into your energy consumption. While renewable energy is becoming more prevalent, the vast majority of our energy is still created by burning coal, a very environmentally-unfriendly process. Call your local utility provider to set up an energy audit, most will provide these free of charge and may also provide financial incentives such as free or deeply discounted energy saving supplies like light bulbs and faucet aerators.

2. Waste Not, Want Not

Another way you can lessen your environmental impact is by taking a good look at your current waste streams and identifying ways certain items in there can be reused or diverted from the landfill. Recycling your papers, plastics and metals should be obvious, but there are other waste streams that might have some options available to you. Like the old adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” seek out someone that might want your waste.  There are programs like the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Iowa Waste Exchange that can help you find a match for your waste.

3. Every Little Bit Counts

Taking a look at your business’ processes and finding more efficient ways of doing them can potentially have a huge impact on your environmental footprint as well as your bottom line. By doing things in an efficient manner, you are eliminating wasted time and materials which inherently will result in a lessened environmental impact and reduced costs.

4. Practice What You Preach
The one change that can have the biggest impact is creating a company culture focused on efficiency and environmental awareness. Be sure to share your company’s vision and educate employees on your environmental goals so they can effectively implement green strategies. You can do this by providing incentives for green actions like allowing employees to work from home one day a week, sharing some of the cost savings from efficient operations, or simply just giving notoriety to those who have embraced your company’s environmental push.

Once you’ve made the decision to go green with your business, don’t let it go unnoticed.  Make sure your marketing messages include your environmental goals and what your company is doing to reach these goals. Consumers today, more than ever, are more apt to make a buying decision based on a company’s environmental stewardship and this may just give you a competitive advantage.

If you have any other green ideas or environmental strategies that you have implemented at your business, please share them in the comments.

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