If you're like me, the whole notice of going green conjures up an image of a gathering of 60's hippies (remember them) wearing sandals and carrying placards saying Save The Planet. Well, maybe you're not as outdated as me, but you should get my general drift, going green is for far-left radicals demanding everyone lower their carbon footprint this very instant. Mainly because climate change and global warming are serious issues, which should be addressed by everyone, or the planet is going to hell in a handbasket fast – like, right now!
Sometimes that's the extreme view of going green and one that bares little resemblance to the modern day practices of recycling, composting and conserving energy to lower our impact on the environment. The whole concept of going green has taken on an "individual" playing field where each one of us can lower our dependence on our finite natural resources – many of which are not renewable. We each can consume less, change our driving habits, recycle more items and lower our power / electricity usage. We can also plant more trees and / or support organizations which are trying to save the environment.
But what about businesses or companies – how do they fit into this green picture?
Just like an individual, companies can act or put into practice certain procedures which lessen their impact on the environment. This really does not have to be anything earth shattering (probably the wrong word to use) but simple actions which can make a significant difference. I was totally shocked when I read on a leading green guide website that roughly 50% (that's half) of the trees raised in North America actually goes into the production of paper. Just imagine what all this cutting does to wildlife habitat and / or deforestation.
Even more surprising was the fact that it takes one tree to produce around two cartons of printing / faxing paper and IF just 5% of companies chose to send faxes via email (paperless faxing) it would save over ONE million trees per year. Plus, you have to factor in the whole environmental cost of producing that paper in the first place – in order to make paper it takes over 1,000 different chemicals and countless kilowatt hours of energy.
To complicate matters even further, one has to realize in the United States (as well as other countries) producing energy often means burning more coal, which releases some nasty chemicals into the atmosphere such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide. Producing more of these chemicals gives us more smog and acid rain. Ouch.
One way for companies, both big and small, can help the environment is to go "paperless" or develop a "paperless office" by relying on new technologies like digital faxing and filing. Computers and email have really changed the business workplace and have greatly lessened our dependence on paper. Records, files, communications, faxes … can all now be stored electronically or in digital form. This "paperless office" can be further enhanced by "cloud" services where all your information is stored on remote third party servers.
We also have virtual PBX (Private Branch Exchange) services where most, if not all, our business calls and communications can be handled via computers and the web. This includes Internet or email fax which can be completely paperless. Such a small change as getting rid of the old traditional fax machine can go a long way in making any company greener.
However, the question still remains, is all this green stuff good for business. The answer has to be a definite yes. Forget about the environment for a moment, on a purely operational level, consuming less energy, going paperless, utilizing digital filing … will make your company more efficient and cost less to run. Saving money is always good for business. So too, is doing things in the most modern efficient way possible – especially if your business relationships up swift communications with employees, customers or clients.
Then of course, we must not forget the whole PR benefit of going green. Emphasizing this green label on your products and services will definately create more awareness and generate more business, especially among customers who now demand a gener alternative to many of the products / services they use or consume. Many companies are jumping on the "green bandwagon" just for this reason – it's simply good for business.
While this may be perceived as a bit devious or even manipulative, if these companies can back up their claims with green actions, which truly benefit the environment, then in the end, their motives do not really matter because we all win. Lowering our dependence on non-renewable resources and / or consuming less energy can only be seen as a good thing. Good thing for the environment. Good thing for business. Now, where did I put those blessed sandals.