Green living has caught on, and everyone wants to do their part for the environment. Many businesses have caught on to this, and tout their environmentally friendly business credentials in order to woo potential customers. Unfortunately, though, some businesses that talk the talk do not really walk the walk. How do you distinguish the truly green businesses? There are a number of practices that will distinguish a genuinely sustainable business from one merely practicing “green washing.”
Here are some of these characteristics to make sure that your business strive to be environmentally friendly:
Sustainable businesses use sustainable power sources when possible, such as solar and wind power.
Unfortunately, many parts of the US use coal as the main fuel source to generate electricity. Coal mining causes groundwater pollution and other ecological problems in the areas where it is mined. As coal is burned, it releases all kinds of pollutants into the air including soot and mercury. By using clean energy sources, businesses can reduce their impact on the environment.
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Green companies source locally when they can.
Fuel for shipping goods and products can have a huge impact on the environment so finding ways to reduce the fuel needed can reduce that impact dramatically. When items are locally sourced, it means that far less fuel is used transporting them. Those businesses that source locally are usually able to control the quality of those products live up to higher quality standards and environmentally higher standards as well. Using local materials also contributes to the health of the local economy.
Green companies use sustainable packaging.
In 2008, Americans threw away over 76,000 tons of packaging. Non-biodegradable plastics made up 12% of that. Businesses have more power than individual consumers to reduce this waste, since they are the ones providing the products. There are many ways that businesses can help in this area. Some use the most minimal packaging possible to reduce the amount that is thrown away. Some green businesses reduce their environmental impact by choosing recycled packaging. Others allow customers to eliminate disposable packaging altogether by offering reusable containers.
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Green companies’ business models put as high an emphasis on the well-being of their employees, the environment and their customers as they do on profits.
One characteristic of a sustainable environmentally friendly business is that these objectives are all in balance with each other. When those non-monetary values are a high priority, a green philosophy informs all decisions and contributes to greener practices throughout the company. However, part of sustainability is the economic feasibility of those practices. Considering profitability equally important helps secure the future success and long term sustainability of the business.
Going green whenever possible is a mindset that is catching on at the personal and business level. Taking a purposeful and proactive approach in caring for our environment is a great responsibility for all of us, personally and business-wise.