By Kathryn Kerby
It’s not easy being green. That marvelous line from Kermit the Frog sums up the work ahead of any company which wants to become more eco-conscious with its products and services. Thankfully, as we saw in our sister article about greening up a business’s systems and structures, there is some good news out there. Any given business, regardless of size or industry, can take steps to make its products and services greener. Companies can start with small steps, and then graduate to larger and more comprehensive strategies over time. It can happen slowly, and inexpensively as companies test the waters of this new approach. The single biggest step is to get started. So, we’ve curated several articles and sources to help you with that first big step.
Building Eco-Friendly Products
My grandmother always said, “to get a good start on anything, start with understanding the problem.” In this sense, check out this wonderful guide from the Government of Victoria, Australia. It can serve as an introduction to “the big picture” for companies who wish to make their products greener, and the general steps involved.
Another how-to overview comes from Alliance Sales & Marketing. Their list gets into more detail and touches on both the business case for greener products, and the customer demand for those products. Like the prior article, it is applicable to many different industries and scales.
If you’d like some examples of how companies have already made the shift, check out this list of 18 different businesses which went green in some way, for a wide range of industries. You’ll recognize some of these brands. If one or more of them offer similar products to your own, you can get a good idea of what’s involved and how you may be able to replicate their advances.
If you have a large established product line and you’re not sure where to start, or just want to get a baseline on your current situation, check out this article from the folks at MIT’s Enterprise Forum. Their article on ensuring product sustainability helps managers review current product lines and assess where each product falls on several different measurements. Sometimes we just need to tweak one or two aspects of an already good product, and this article will help you narrow in on the best places to start making changes.
Providing Eco-Friendly Services
What about businesses that offer services, rather than tangible products? Consultants, software companies, and professionals such as teachers, lawyers, physicians, plumbers and mechanics can also get on the greener bandwagon by improving the ways they conduct their business.
This article, how to make your marketing more sustainable, for instance, is from a marketing professional who had already made changes at home, and then started to wonder how to make similar changes at work. While marketing is by definition a service, it definitely creates its share of material. This blog entry will help other marketing and sales companies make similar changes.
How about banking and financial services? Yes, financial institutions are getting on the green train. This guide describes different ways that financial services providers can improve their sustainability footprint. It is simultaneously a guide for employees and managers at other financial offices to emulate, and a guide for consumers so that they can make educated decisions about which company they wish to work with.
Medical, dental, vision and other health provider offices can get in on the action too. This article describes how an average medical clinic can boost their eco-friendly conduct. Most of these practices would translate fairly well into other healthcare disciplines. Or check out this mother-of-all-healthcare-office-gone-green list, with 80 ways a dental office can go green. Most of these items would translate over to other healthcare provider settings too.
Let’s not forget the attorneys. Law firms generate their share of avoidable waste and consume energy and resources in the course of advising their clients. This article shows not only why law firms should consider becoming more eco-friendly, but also how to get started.
Additional Sources of Eco-Friendly How-To
Another source of information is the American Sustainable Business Network. They offer a wide range of tools, resources, articles and services to help businesses start the process and stay on the program of becoming more environmentally friendly.
A third option is to check with your local county or state government, many of which offer region-specific guidance and resources. A fourth option is to check with industry associations; many now offer industry-specific guidance, tools and certification options. Some of these services are free, and some require a membership or subscription. All of them can help move a company forward with its efforts.
Any time a company starts to consider rebuilding the mouse trap, caution is certainly warranted. Evaluate things carefully, work through the options, look for and consider qualified opinions, and then proceed carefully. All that being said, any given business, in any industry, can make improvements. We’ve assembled a lot of resources here to help you get started, and how to find answers along the way. We hope you join us on this journey towards better sustainability.