- According to NRDC, Bank of America reduced the weight of its ATM receipts from 20 pounds to 15 pounds, saving paper, transportation, storing and handling costs, to the tune of $500,000 a year.
- Coca-Cola's efforts to cut down on packaging saved it $100 million.
- After Marks & Spencer adopted environmental and ethical business guidelines, the company earned an extra £50 million in revenue.
- A small business owner in the UK replaced 62 tube lights to more energy efficient lighting throughout his shop, saving him £2,282 in annual energy costs.
- Environmental Defense Fund and Frost & Sullivan conducted a survey of energy efficient business leaders. Of 500 respondents, 42% said their sales have increased over the past one to two years and an equal number said that their sales have remained the same.
What is a Green Business?
The Value of Being Green
Going Green in a Tough Economy
Do it with a Green Team
Easy, Cost Effective Efforts for Small and Large Businesses
Larger Sustainability Initiatives
Studies, Statistics and Resources
“There’s this theory that you have to pick one: economics or environmental performance. That’s nonsense. Innovation is the way you can have both. Companies that don’t get this, really risk becoming irrelevant to the marketplace.” - Mark Vachon, vice president of GE’s ecomagination
"There is a need to reclaim the notion of value, redefining it around the broader notion of lifetime value, asking consumers questions like: Are inexpensive appliances really a good value if they guzzle energy and drive up our utility bills?... This will require a major shift in thinking but is a huge opportunity for the brands that get it right." - Mainstream Green
A “green” business strives to have a positive impact on the environment and community. It develops and practices business strategies that go beyond regulation and demonstrate commitment to a healthy and sustainable future. A green business adopts principles, policies, and practices that improve the quality of life for its customers and employees. There are now certification systems that strive to standardize these principals such as the B Corporation and Green America's Certified Business program.
Companies have strengthened their commitment to sustainability as the benefits become more apparent (and the alternatives more untenable). Just as natural resources are becoming scarce and costly; customers, employees and investors are increasingly environmentally-conscious. Championing sustainability allows businesses to align deeply with their missions and engage customers on a more meaningful level.
According to a 2011 study by MIT, sustainability is now a permanent part of 70% of corporate agendas. Most companies now also consider green practices to be vital to remaining competitive and many affirm that these practices are contributing to profits. Some of the reasons for going green include:
Reduced Risk. Environmental degradation threatens the ecosystem services that allow our economy to function and companies are beginning to take notice. PepsiCo, for example, is investing in sustainable solutions to water scarcity while Siemens is abandoning investment in dirty energy sources for the renewables that will power the future. As investors and partners become more knowledgeable about green strategies that improve the bottom line, climate-responsive business practices are becoming the norm.
Green Product Demand. Demand for environmentally-friendly services and products continues to grow. According to a survey conducted by Cohn & Wolfe, a majority of consumers in all countries say that it is very or somewhat important that companies are environmentally-friendly and 35% are willing to spend more for green products.
Consumer Engagement. Community involvement is an important cornerstone for many companies, and green practices enhance public image, community relations and good will. According to a report by D S Simon Productions, "media initiatives with a corporate social responsibility focus generates 35-50% more positive media coverage on television, radio, web and social media than comparable programs without the CSR hook".
Attracting Talent. Environmentally-conscious business practices help attract and retain the best employees by increasing employee satisfaction and pride in the workplace. According to a MonsterTRAK poll on green employment, 92% of young professionals would be more inclined to work for an environmentally-friendly company. Engagement programs that empower employees by giving them easy ways to support causes they care about, such as the EarthShare @ Work giving program, are also proven morale boosters.
Attracting Investors. Socially and environmentally responsible assets rose more than 324% from 1995 to 2007, signalling a growing interest in sustainability among investors. Investors are also shifting from a "do no harm" approach to a "do more good" approach that will benefit companies committed to the health of the communities they operate in.
Saving Money. Which brings us to...
Cost is frequently cited as a deterrent to implementing sustainable practices, but answering tough questions about a business' practices and implementing programs that reduce, reuse and recycle can actually save a lot of money. Some examples:
Green jobs are also more recession-proof than the alternatives. Next 10's report on green jobs in California shows that while the economy there contracted 7% during the recession, the clean energy and pollution reduction industries fell only 3%. From 1995-2010, green jobs in California grew 53% while the total economy grew 12%.
While recessions are difficult, they also provide a window for new business ventures and an opportunity to establish a new position within the market. Resources become more affordable, human resources are more abundant, and customers become more willing to reconsider suppliers and consider alternative products. This is a great time to go green and position a business as an environmental leader.
Having a sustainability officer is now the norm: 86% of large companies have at least one person focused full time on sustainability. Even so, many employees feel that their employers could do even more to promote environmentally-friendly practices. Growing numbers of businesses are now developing “green teams” to capture the collective passion and expertise of a group of employees.
With upper management support, a diverse green team can build sustainability initiatives at the workplace based on individual, group and company capabilities and strengths. Green team initiatives can start with a small group of people focusing on cost-effective ways to improve internal operations, to bigger, more formalized programs like the one eBay's 1000+ member team is running!
EarthShare runs green team workshops throughout the country. These meetings bring together sustainability and environmental leaders to share ideas, educate each other and provide a private forum to discuss the environmental issues affecting today’s modern workplace. Learn more about our program and how you can get involved here.
- Fight Global Warming at Work: Show Your Boss the Money, Union of Concerned Scientists*
- Sustainability Nears a Tipping Point, MIT Sloan Management Review
- The 2011 Green Brands Survey, Cohn & Wolfe
- Why Become a B Corp?, B Corporation
- State of Green Business Report 2012, GreenBiz.com
- Working for the Earth: Green Companies and Green Jobs Attract Employees, GreenBiz
- Green Workplace Survey, Society for Human Resource Management
- Sustainability Risks and Opportunities Report, Wilbury Stratton
- The Growing Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility for Reputation Management, D S Simon Productions
- Insurers Brace for Stormy Weather as the World Warms, Huffington Post
- What is Impact Investing?, GIIRS
- Many Shades of Green: California’s Shift to a Cleaner, More Productive Economy, Next 10
- Top Corporate Sustainability Trends to Watch in 2012, Huffington Post
- When “green business” isn’t enough, Marc Gunthur
- It Pays to Go Green in a Down Economy, Entrepreneur
- The World Awaits Your Green Business, Entrepreneur
- How Saving the Environment Can Also Save You Money, Xerox
- Net Impact Releases Guide to Making Any Job a Green Job, GreenBiz.com
- Corporate Green Teams: Sustainable Business From the Bottom Up, GreenBiz.com
- EarthShare Green Teams
Photo: Green Field, Meeting; Office Now