5 simple ways to green your business

As a business owner, every decision you make impacts your bottom line. By taking steps to green your business, you can make a positive impact on the environment, your business and our community.

Switching to environmentally friendly practices, like recycling and using energy efficient lightbulbs, are simple ways to help your business save money while appealing to earth-friendly customers. Keep in mind that you don’t have to make drastic changes in your business to become better for the environment. Here are some easy ways you can take your business down a “greener” path.

1. Conduct a waste audit

Do you know how much paper your business is throwing away every day? Are you still printing receipts for every order? Take inventory of how much waste is leaving your business by conducting a waste audit. Everything from checking for leaky faucets to tracking how many pens are thrown away or the number of disposable coffee cups used in a day — these are all items that can be recycled or replaced with a sustainable option. For example, if your audit shows employees are using disposable cups for water, encourage them to bring a reusable water bottle instead. Visit the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum’s website for a sample checklist created in partnership with the Kent County Department of Public Works to get you started on your audit.

2. Donate old furniture and technology

Making updates around the office? Don’t throw away an old desk or chair and let it sit in a landfill. Many items can be repaired if they are broken or reused for parts. The Kent County Department of Public Works has a handy guide that outlines all the different ways to dispose of materials — everything from computers and electronics to junk mail and cardboard.

3. Use alternative transportation

Leaving the car at home reduces emissions while encouraging employees to protect the environment. Riding the bus, walking or cycling to work not only helps the environment but it also can help employees adopt habits that promote good health. You can learn more about creating a greener commute for employees on The Rapid’s website at ridetherapid.org/additional-services.

4. Use green office supplies

Need to stock up on the essentials like pens, paper and other supplies? Purchase reusable and sustainable supplies from a locally owned office supply business that can help minimize your environmental footprint. Switching to recycled paper and refillable pens will help you save money while protecting the environment. Additionally, you can also purchase “green gifts” like sustainably made drinkware, notebooks, bags and more.

5. Partner with local or green vendors

A simple way to make your business more environmentally friendly is to source materials from vendors within the community. For example, prioritize sourcing from vendors that offer products made with renewable materials or that minimize packaging. Additionally, by sourcing products from local businesses, this can reduce the environmental impacts of shipping.

Following a few of these steps not only can help your business become better for the environment, but it also can help you attract more customers and employees who care about the environment. To learn more about using your business to protect the environment, visit our sustainability page.

The “Noble Experiment” – Can Business Be A Force For Good

Values Matter…

I recently watched a YouTube video about Jackie Robinson and his experience breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. He did it with a great deal of courage, and with patience for the extremely narrow-mindedness and intolerance of people venting their hatred at him. 
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nBaseball is a sport of extreme mental concentration and focus. Players are easily thrown off their game by even minor distractions. Yet Jackie, in spite of all the off the field (and sometimes on the field) abuse he suffered, was able to play top-notch baseball. He did it with an intensity and aggressiveness that eventually gained him the grudging respect of a nation that, in those days, still harbored deep prejudices. Many hated him for his skin color, but came to respect his skills and the way he conducted his life and played the game of baseball. Eventually, Jackie was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. To this day, he is the only player to have his number retired by all of baseball. One day each year all major league players wear number 42 in his honor. 
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nWatching the YouTube video again reminded me of my admiration for Jackie, but this time my attention was drawn to two key players in the Jackie Robinson story. Branch Rickey was the President and General manager of the Dodgers, and the team owner was Bill Veeck. It was they who decided that something needed to be done to break the color barrier in baseball. They knew it would be futile to try to convince people to change their prejudices, or attempt to legislate change through the baseball commissioners office, so they made a courageous decision.
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nThey just did it. They put a black man on their baseball team.
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nThey didn’t do any market testing. They didn’t mount a publicity campaign to try to convince fans that “colored” people could and should play baseball at the highest level. They didn’t wait until it was an acceptable, normal practice. They put a black man on their team knowing full well that it would create a shock wave in the world of baseball, and that the man they selected would be subjected to extreme insult and abuse. 
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nWhy did these two businessmen, already successful and respected, want to disrupt the status quo of the baseball world? Why did they take on such a huge risk that would potentially threaten their already successful business?

They had the conventional goals of baseball team owners — to own a successful, profitable business, and to prove themselves to be the best baseball club in the world by winning the World Series. But they shared another goal. Really more than a goal — a sense of mission. They wanted, somehow, to make the world a better place. I don’t know that they ever thought of it as a mission or made any kind of “mission statement.” But that’s what it was. A mission.

It’s commonly understood in the business world that a business is all about making money and that’s it. Standard business wisdom is that businesses should be focused on the bottom line. Maximize profits. Grow the business. Increase value for the shareholders. When management loses its focus on the bottom line, stakeholders become angry, and industry/business experts criticise the business and its leadership. 

Is that right? Is that all there is? 

Let’s ask a few questions about this basic belief and see if we can find a deeper truth about the world of business. Read on