Great Ideas: Reduce your company's footprint and build a better business, too

Written by PROFIT Xtra

Being green is vital to the success of your company in this new age of responsibility, writes Tim Sanders, former chief solutions officer at Yahoo! Inc. in Saving the World at Work: What Companies and Individuals Can Do to Go Beyond Making a Profit to Making a Difference. That’s because being environmentally responsible is not only a tool for attracting talent, but is more important to brand loyalty than ever. Sanders offers these valuable tips to help reduce your company’s footprint—and build a better business while you’re at it:

Hire eco-friendly people: If you want your company to go green, first search for like-minded employees. Eco-friendly people will use less electricity, produce less waste and reduce your future liabilities by instinctively acting to preserve the environment in all they do.

Promote eco-friendly employee habits: You can promote green thinking by making employee education part of your new-hire orientation process. Find creative ways to reward green behaviour at work. For example, create an eco-profit-sharing plan, where you calculate money saved by employee contributions to sustainability, then share the windfall with them. The more you reward, the more you motivate.

Green up your partners: If your suppliers, distributors and resellers, from repackaging to transporting your products, are unsustainable, they factor into your company’s total eco-footprint. Assess your supply chain and see if there is a single source that accounts for a large percentage of your company’s footprint. Can you replace or eliminate that source? Communicate environmental goals with your partners and share your assessment of their impact on your products sustainability.

Discard responsibly: Today, product disposal should be as important as customer service. One way to address the disposal issue is to design products that are environmentally neutral when they are thrown out. Look into different materials so that you no longer have to rely on your customers to recycle.

Give your customers an eco option: Everyone is doing it, from the hotel that has a towel and linen reuse program to the grocer that sell reusable cloth grocery bags. Whatever program you implement, however, give your customers the choice to do good rather than making it mandatory. If you cut out paper statements or fresh towels without asking, some customers might perceive the change as a drop in your level of service.

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