The overwhelmingly positive response that the public and most governments have taken toward saving the environment has put significant pressure on companies, especially heavy manufacturers, to take actions to reduce their waste impact and even reverse the damages where possible. Though most Americans think that the 1960’s “Save the Earth” campaign or An Inconvenient Truth starring Al Gore were the first efforts toward environmental conservation, the “going green” movement has a long history that started in Europe during the early medieval times through sustainable forestry management for farming purposes. This continued effort over the centuries to save our planet, our home, against many polluting adversaries is more than just an inspirational blockbluster plot: it’s a demonstration of our humanity, compassion, and willingness to take on big challenges.
This movement is taking more and more precedent in our everyday lives with the education system at all levels teaching about the environment and the impact we humans have on it. Colleges are providing degrees in sustainable energy or environmental science, bringing our educated class to a higher level of awareness and capability in making a significant change. Though the largest total impact will come from residential areas, it doesn’t mean we can dismiss the same practices we use at home from the workplace. Especially since businesses are where the workforce spends a majority of their time, creates a sense of community through promotion of common values, and can provide more tools to educate their employees who don’t normally use green practices at home.
But, (as any good teacher will know) your pupils will not take these concepts to heart or action if you don’t practice what you preach consistently and for everyone to see. Any company that decides to include green efforts in their business model must ensure it’s practiced throughout the organization, from the CEO to the part-time and contract employees. And, unfortunately, the relationship between effort needed and the size of an organization isn’t necessary linear. It’s much easier for one person to maintain any practice over 4-5 people versus 5,000+ or more employees.
Any change, however big or small though, always starts with a single step followed by multiple incremental changes heading toward your ultimate goal and going green is no exception. Green companies and manufacturers find they have reduced costs in multiple ways where so much energy is consumed, yet still have the flexibility in production processes and meeting customer demands. Green efforts will also attract more consumers and customers; even if your business already has green efforts in place, more can always be used or improved upon to either increase your overall efficiency or increase overall output. If you’re looking to have your business start being green, there are many different places you can start; below is a website that has information on using less energy without sacrificing your business objectives.
Start with one and let me know how its impacted your business!
I think more and more businesses are starting to realize the importance of “going green,” and not just for the environmental or social impact, but the economic impact. As you allude to in your blog post, committing to sustainable practices can be a significant way for businesses to significantly cut costs (especially in manufacturing). Any reduction in consumption of energy or resources is going to help save money, and there are many ways to do so with little upfront investment. To those companies that are willing to go even further and invest in sustainable infrastructure, I think they often find there is actually a very short return on investment period.
As an example, I once spoke with the sustainability manager for a Hilton Hotel property. They decided to invest in an ozone generating washing machine to eliminate the consumption of harsh chemical detergents. They anticipated their ROI period would be way out if they ever met it all (they just wanted to use fewer toxic chemicals). Little did they know that by using an ozone washing machine, it opened up the fibers of their linens and reduced their drying times by almost 50%. This reduction in energy qualified them for an energy rebate that almost covered the cost of the machine. Now they’re actually saving money as a result, and got their ROI in less than a year.
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You’re absolutely right, Spencer! More businesses are becoming committed to going green. And you touched on the point I’m trying to convey with your awesome example. It’s usually harder for manufacturers to justify spending on green efforts especially when you have to implement such a big project to see a significant ROI in comparison to other expenditures these huge facilities have. But, with evidence like your Hilton Hotel example it’ll be hard to keep ignoring the benefits of going green, even for the big guys.