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It's Time to Green Your Business

With energy prices soaring, the time is right to begin to green your business in fundamental ways. The greening of your business can be a quest, an adventure even, as you work to build a leaner...

Written By: Dan Sitarz

With energy prices soaring, the time is right to begin to green your business in fundamental ways. The greening of your business can be a quest, an adventure even, as you work to build a leaner, stronger, and healthier business. As science has been telling us about human health in recent years, in order to become healthier we need to cut out the fat, become more active, and lower our bodies’ intake of harmful chemicals and additives.

To create a green and sustainable business is to follow that same general plan: cut the inputs of energy and raw materials to an absolute minimum, make the business more resilient to change and risk, and eliminate toxic materials wherever possible. The results, as with a successful human fitness plan, can be stunning. Reductions of energy use can be well upwards of 70 percent; materials use can likewise often be reduced by half, or even more. Waste can, in some cases, be virtually eliminated or, better yet, sold for a profit or converted into additional useful products. Hazardous chemical use can be dramatically reduced or eliminated. And best of all, by creating a company that is healthier, a company that is poised for the future, a company that is lean and strong, you will almost inevitably generate greater profits, while eliminating many risks.

Like a highly trained athlete who is deeply in tune with her body, you will also begin to understand your business as never before. You’ll understand intimately where all of your material inputs come from, where every kilowatt of your company’s energy is used, how your supply and distribution chain operates, the exact make-up of each of your products, the intimate details of the services you provide, and precisely what materials comprise your waste stream. At each step of your journey towards sustainability, you will find ways to do things better, more efficiently, more effectively, safer, and with dramatically less waste and energy.

There are manifold powerful benefits to making your business more sustainable and greener. The cost savings associated with running a cleaner, more efficient business are the first and most obvious benefit to greening your business. Real money can be saved (and applied directly to your bottom line) when you take the steps necessary to look at your energy, water, and material inputs and trim them in every way possible. The task of looking at these inputs in detail can nearly always highlight dramatic savings that might otherwise be overlooked. The same careful examination of business transportation can almost always clearly illuminate striking savings possibilities in fuel usage. The complete analysis of how your business uses energy, water, and other inputs and a comprehensive exploration of how to reduce each and every one of these inputs is a critical component of greening your business. Such a careful look at your entire business operation can also provide a clear basis for better and more accurate costing and pricing of the products and services that your company provides. By looking at your business operations in a new green way, direct and measurable cost savings are not only possible, but highly probable.

Finally, climate change is poised to dramatically affect all businesses across the world creating, at once, the largest change in business and the largest new market (for carbon) in a century. Governments around the world are gearing up for major initiatives to confront climate change. Sooner rather than later, carbon emissions emanating from business will begin to be inventoried and then regulated as a pollutant. Carbon taxes are another distinct possibility as the world struggles to find ways to wean itself from fossil fuels. Whether via carbon trading or taxes, a market price for carbon will be created that will have major effects all across the business world. Large corporations are already taking steps to adjust to this eventuality. By beginning the process of examining your carbon emissions and seeking ways to lessen them now, you will be years ahead of competitors that ignore this reality.

Moving your business in a greener direction is a process, a continual process that has as its central goal the profitable and productive delivery of goods and services in a manner that has the least possible harmful impacts on the world around us. Greening your business is ultimately about changing your business and making your business better. Greening your business is a long-term commitment to enter into the process of continually moving your business in a new and sustainable direction. It is a direction that you will find is highly rewarding, both for your business and, ultimately, for yourself personally.
This article has been excerpted from Greening Your Business: The Hands On Guide to Creating a Successful and Sustainable Business by Daniel Sitarz.

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