Green is the New Black

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By Shannon Mascia, Media Relations Intern, R&J Public Relations

Looking for sustainable business practices? Cost-savings to increase profitability? Eco -friendly and ethical initiatives? It could be as simple as looking toward changing your business’s environmental practices. The great part about “greening” your bottom line, aside from saving lots of money of course, is good public relations. Taking the plunge and making the investment to enhance your culture or business practices will make you and your company really, REALLY ridiculously good looking. “Greening” or rather, becoming environmentally conscious, no longer requires hemp clothing, Birkenstocks, hugging a tree on the way to work, or eating tofu meat-less-loaf. There are now several simple business practices that can save money, create sustainability, and promote great PR.

From eco-friendly products and practices to a spike in hybrid car purchases, even cities are taking the move toward “green” practices, essentially killing two birds with one stone. Traffic problems in New York City? Create a bike sharing program that gives more room to taxi drivers, keeps fewer cars on the road, produces better air quality, and improves the overall mental and physical health of local residents. (Okay, so that was three or four birds, but still one stone). The state of California has about 90 cities/counties that require plastic bag ordinances. This puts either a ban on plastic bags or a levy on plastic and paper bags. This not only saves a headache for garbage sorting facilities that have to replace thousands of dollars worth of equipment due to damage from plastic bags in the gears, but also raises money through a tax that is used for bettering the environmental state of the area.

In 2012 Sprint showed off some serious “green” street cred. Though a wireless service provider, Sprint took advantage of one of the fastest growing types of waste issues in the US: E-waste. Through a revolutionary buy-back program for electronic products, Sprints accepts mobile devices regardless of condition or origin. In return customers get $300 in account credit for traded-in devices, while Sprint gets to refurbish parts and attract new customers. This not only saves money and creates new clients, but also makes a large company appear really attractive to consumers looking for a company beyond Whole Foods or Toms that commits to corporate environmental responsibility.

So how does one gain “green” street cred? It is not as complicated as it seems. Take everything you have learned since being able to read, and unlearn it. Go back to basics — before you learned how to be so wasteful. Here are some easy ways to get really “greeny:”

  • Make your office paperless: Paper is expensive and wasted in office environments. It requires a huge amount of energy to create, and causes deforestation, which officially contributes more to climate change than the gasses released from cars. With this in mind, cut the cord. It is easy to lower paper waste in-house by going electronic. If it’s absolutely necessary to print, set all your computers to print double sided and use recycled paper. Recently our office here at R&J stopped using print out time sheets for clients, and have moved to an all electronic system that is not only paperless, but also tracks time more efficiently.
  • Creating Awareness: Make sure employees are aware of new business efficiency plans. Encourage participation in recycling programs, or limit the amount of printing every log-in on a computer has per month to minimize paper usage. Encourage employees to share eco-friendly office ideas at staff meetings. Being “green” might be deemed inconvenient to some, but saving money is always welcome.
  • Energy Saving Light Bulbs: LED and CFL light bulbs add up to substantial long-term savings that will compensate for the initial higher priced investment. Incandescent light bulbs generate heat, which makes cooling an office more difficult and expensive. Energy saving light bulbs also last eight to fifteen times longer than typical incandescent light bulbs.
  • Install Timers and Smart Control Systems: These can turn systems off in the office either while they are not in use or during the night when no one is in the building. There are timers that can also put devices to sleep while not in use to minimize energy use. Our building has sensors for lighting in many areas where lights turn off if there is no movement in a room.
  • Empty Ink Cartridges: These can be sold back to recycling agencies! Some recycling organizations only require a sign up. They come and drop off a bin and schedule a time to pick up recycled materials. At the end of the collections, they mail you a check.
  • Recycling E-Waste: Have old computers, printers, and scanners no longer in use? There are organizations out there that will pick up your e-waste to recycle it or refurbish it, for free. E-waste is basically anything that needs batteries or to be plugged in to work. Some companies will pick up e-waste for free and allow for some of the proceeds from recycling to be allocated to an organization or cause of your choice. There are also projects that re-purpose electronic goods to go to developing countries.
  • Some Other Simple Environmental Wins Include:
    • Save and re-use packaging
    • Avoid paper or plastic
    • Re-use furniture, fixtures and equipment
    • Position desks closer to natural light
    • Facilitating car-pooling

So what now? Aside from watching your bills go down, broadcast it. Shout it from the rooftops! Offices that haven’t done it are looking to do it, and businesses that have done it are trying to be better at it. Open up your techniques and tell others “how we did it.” You’ll not only be helping the environment, it can provide some very favorable PR opportunities as well.

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together … all things connect.” —Chief Seattle

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