Seize the Chance to Project Environmental Awareness

Do you have company vehicles, even a car for yourself with the name of your business on the door? If not, seriously consider it. The advertising is free, once you pay for the handsome, brand-correct signage on the door or gate, and the vehicle becomes tax-deductible as long as you’re using it for business. See your accountant for details.

Not just any vehicle, however: It represents your business and should say positive and accurate things about it and you. Be confident but not boastful. For most businesses this means you keep te vehicle shipshape, washed, and you fix any damage right away. A late-model Ford, Chevy, GMC, or Dodge pickup works for most businesses around here, plus they are handy for hauling stuff. They also say on some level, crisis-ready. 

One problem: Pickups don’t signal environmental sensitivity and commitment, which is a large component of any business image these days. To the contrary, a big V8 pickup says gas-guzzler and polluter, so do the supersize SUVs. However, there are few alternatives. Only a couple of hybrid trucks are available, and fully electric pickups are both a little in the future and at the luxury end until manufacturing costs start to decline. Until then you’ll just have to drive conservatively, so as not to draw attention to yourself while you wantonly burn a fossil fuel, or get an electric car. Many brands have at least one now, though what’s available populates the entry level from Asian and some American makers and the luxury segment for mostly European brands. (See the EV section for details).

Brand image matters more to some businesses than others, of course. And it’s by no means easy to always get right. But being ahead of the game environmentally shows that you’re forward thinking, you take the climate crisis we live in seriously. More often these days, that matters as much to clients and customers as product or service satisfaction.  

The all-electric Lordstown Endurance will begin production this September, the company says. It has a close relationship with General Motors—the name is a venerable GM plant, and the prototype used a Silverado body.


You Create More Waste than You Realize

These days, businesses need to be sensitive to environmental issues. Like it or not, people look to you to be a community leader. Your example matters. What you do weighs more than what you say, but your words count too.

What are the most obvious forms your attitude toward the environment can take, good or bad? Chances are, recycling is near the top of the list. Whatever it is you do, you create waste. Take an inventory. Figure out what you waste and reduce it to zero. If waste is an inevitable byproduct, figure out if you can reduce it, then how it can be reused or recycled.  All of this will save your business money. Say you print lots of documents. Switching to paper that contains post-consumer waste while you print double-sided as often as possible cuts your paper costs in half or more. And you save trees. These days, trees are not just reams of paper with roots and leaves. They are carbon sinks—they take in carbon and store it in the form of wood and leaves or return it to the soil through the roots, all the while releasing oxygen. 

What is recyclable is between you and your commercial hauler. At the moment, given our dysfunctional recycling industry, that may be less than ideal. Rethink the situation. Examine every phase of every process. Create less waste by, well, producing less waste. Streamline a procedure. Look at what’s being thrown out and reverse-engineer ways to reduce or prevent the loss. Invent ways to reuse materials. Give credit to an employee who helps make a gain in efficiency. Have a contest among employees on the best way to reduce, recycle, or reuse waste and share the cost savings between the winner and an employee bonus pool.

If you encourage a reduce-recycle-reuse culture in your company or institution, and do it by rewarding exemplary behavior at every level, you won’t be able to keep the story to yourselves. Spouses will talk about it. Kids will bring anecdotes about it to school, where it will spread among the kids and back to their parents.  You’ll get coverage in local news outlets for your efforts, which will spur others to reduce their own waste-making. That’s being a true leader.


Make Your Digital World Efficient and Convenient

With technology, we’ve often learned the hard way, the upside gain is by no means always worth the downside risk, despite what the tech industry says. And technology is full of jargon like “upside gain,” which we will try to spare you.

In environmental terms, information technology has been a boon. It has helped save enormous costs in office products alone. Routine and even legal tasks are now easily performed by nonspecialists with the aid of fairly easy to use software suites. Inventory control for businesses of all sizes is now mainly a data-entry chore, after which all sorts of analytic tools are available, many in full color with graphics designed for the technology-averse.

Try to view technology as a valuable employee, someone you can trust but who you don’t yet know how to harness to the best of their abilities. You are the boss. If it’s unruly, doesn’t obey the house rules or your directives, creates dissention in the ranks, takes unscheduled days off, hurts your reputation, fire the ungrateful wretch and find a solution that fits. A good term for this is “rightsize,” as opposed to “wrongsize.” If you can’t figure this out on your own, a good tech planning consultant will be worth every penny. Don’t hesitate to search for one outside the area. Consultation by Zoom works fine.

If you can make a big gain in “efficiency”—a term than can be measured any number of ways, but should always include environmental impact—carefully assess its impact on your customers. If that’s minimal, go for it. The transition from cash to electronic payment, for example, is still being resisted in some quarters because of fears that customers don’t want to adapt and the customer is always right. Rather than hold back vital progress where it’s needed to accommodate a few, figure out how to accommodate the few—even individually, if necessary—while giving your business the benefits of living in a digital world. A loyal-for-decades client is probably worth the extra effort, even if it means delivering handwritten paper bills in person—but not to Rochester, Minnesota.

It’s not necessary to be the local technology leader, but you’ll be doing no one any favors by being the last analog holdout.

Digital Marketing

Going Green Saves Money, Provides More Prospects, and Makes You One of the Good Guys. What’s Not to Like?

It’s time to leave  your old friend the printer behind and join the 21st century.

Well, almost.  Printed materials still have a useful place in your marketing plan for such tools as handouts and posters,  but the vast majority how you market to your customers can be done virtually, and that is a good thing for your wallet, and for our environment. Digital marketing is not only more cost effective, it is much greener than traditional marketing. By saving on printing (think all that paper, ink, binding, shipping, postage, et cetera), you are lowering your company’s carbon footprint. And, oftentimes, going digital allows you to market yourself and your business to more potential consumers. 

Think about it. When you open your mailbox and see tons of advertisements addressed to CURRENT RESIDENT,  are you more likely to do business with that company? Probably not. Digital marketing has come a long way in the last few years. Now, you can concentrate your efforts in not just attracting more customers, but attracting the right customers. By adopting more energy-efficient, electronic communication strategies you can make a small but noble impact on the climate crisis. 

Outside of digital marketing, there are tons of new and exciting ways to run a green-aware company. “Green marketing” can include using eco-friendly packaging, adopting sustainable business practices, or focusing marketing efforts on messages that communicate a product’s or service’s green benefits.

Finally, there is solid reputational value in this approach. To a well-documented degree, your customers or clients are already attuned to green behavior from businesses. They will reward those in sync with their green scruples and “deselect” from their brands and companies of choice those who don’t.

If you have green credentials, flaunt them. If not, this is an excellent time to think through how to become greener. You’ll be doing us all, and yourself, a favor. 

Here are three of many resources that can help you start your journey to becoming a greener business.