Being green is hot, hot, hot. But for some businesses, it's more than something trendy. They've found that being environmentally aware has not only made them better, it also helped their bottom lines. Here are 12 reasons to lower your carbon footprint and how to do it right.
Do an Honest AssessmentEco-pioneer
Increase Awareness Within the CompanyBetter World Books provides parking and pumps for those who want to bicycle to work. It also has a green team, whose mission is to figure out ways for the company to improve its green record. Thanks to the team, the business, which sells used books, spent $75,000 on initiatives like green cleaning products and paying the green team for their time but realized $150,000 in savings. Because of this success, a full-time green position has been created.
Start SmallOne of the easiest ways to go green is to cut your energy bill. It could be as simple as switching to energy efficient light bulbs, says Seo, who preaches the green lifestyle in books and on media outlets like CBS, HGTV and Country Home magazine. His latest partnership: a line of eco-friendly mattresses with Simmons for J.C. Penney ( JCP - Get Report).
Rethink Your Raw MaterialsWhen owners Alyssa Weiss and Heidi Rauch of Belabumbum decided to launch an eco-friendly line of intimates and maternity lingerie wear last year, they settled on using bamboo. "It requires less dye, is easy to replenish and grows easily," explains Weiss.
ReuseBetter World Books keeps a handle on purchasing by reusing its shipping boxes at least four times. Pieces that don't become a purse at Ananas get re-imagined as key fobs and embellishments.
RecycleGiven the rising cost of raw materials, money can be made on what you may consider garbage. For example, not too long ago, restaurants had to pay someone to take away their grease. Now, with oil going for more than $100 a barrel these days, they are being paid to get rid of that stuff. Better World Books' founder and CEO F. Xavier Helgesen says that books they can't unload get sold to a paper recycling company for pulp at $150 per pound. That's a lot of change.
Think CreativelyBetter World Books' green team planted a community garden next to the company warehouse. Ananas plants one tree in the Philippines for every bag sold and 10 trees for every bag from its eco-friendly collection purchased. Owner Lagdameo also pushes herself to search for new materials. While she started with the abaca plant, she has since used paraffin wax, cork, burlap and vegetable-tanned leather.
Get Others OnboardJust as you get employees thinking green, encourage clients and find partners who share similar goals. Belabumbum works with a factory in Brazil partly because of its green reputation. Ananas has a relationship with a factory in the Philippines because the women-owned company paid fair wages and hires local carvers to make embellishments from wood found in the region.
Don't Be a PoserIf you're going to tout how eco-friendly your company is, be prepared for some customers to push for examples. Belabumbum's Weiss was surprised when one fan emailed her and asked how green they were. "She was asking us to prove ourselves. As soon as you announce you're green, you are exposing yourself to a certain amount of scrutiny. Customers are savvy." So, don't do it for the press.