Often, the financial strain of a recession puts good ideas on the back burner. Fortunately, for the green movement that’s not so. While going green is a responsible business practice, many companies are motivated to pursue sustainable initiatives because they cut costs.
One of the tenets of the green movement is to leave a smaller footprint, which encourages organizations to be less wasteful. According to our cover story, “Going Green, Saving Green” (page 18), by Assistant Editor Lauren McKay, this means reducing both operating and capital expenditures, reducing reliance on both energy and hardware.
Wild by Nature, a natural-food store based in New York, states on its Web site that “the production of food should support life, promote well-being, and protect the world’s natural resources.” This corporate philosophy is not only reflected in the products it sells, but in different areas of its energy-efficient Oceanside, N.Y., location—the first supermarket in the state to be awarded the U.S. Green Building Council’s Gold certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for new construction. The award recognizes the store for its whole-building approach to sustainability, an effort comprising energy, lighting, water, and material use. Its green strategy includes freezers with motion-sensor lights—food is illuminated only when customers pass. Low-emission vehicles get preferred parking, close to the entrance. The store also offers bicycle racks and showers to encourage alternative transportation for employees.
While going green can save money, it can sometimes increase sales. At Best Buy stores, for example, customers can recycle their old inkjet cartridges, rechargeable batteries, cellphones, and CDs/DVDs by dropping them off at a kiosk. The program also includes a Tech Trade-In initiative, enabling customers to trade in certain used electronics for a gift card. Customers can even have an old appliance hauled away for free when a replacement Best Buy appliance is delivered. Whether a customer is motivated to recycle or save money, Best Buy has a plan to get that customer’s business by getting her into the store.
At Trader Joe’s, where my wife and I do most of our grocery shopping, customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable grocery bags or used paper bags. Anyone who does so earns a chance to win a free insulated-cooler bag in one of the store’s frequent drawings. The insulated bag is a great product; in fact, we’ve already bought one—and I expect many other customers have as well—but we continue to bring our own reusable and used paper bags into the store anyway.
Trader Joe’s knows that green-minded people tend to be socially responsible, so it has developed an atmosphere in which these customers are able to exercise those beliefs. These customers are often swayed by items such as organic, fair-trade coffee. After all, why shouldn’t family farmers in Nicaragua, Peru, and elsewhere get decent pay for their coffee beans? The products are good and I want these small businesses to stick around.
Clearly there are financial benefits to going green. Even if there weren’t, though, as responsible businesses and consumers we have an obligation to do what’s right for the environment, the people around us, and the members of future generations. If we focus solely on our appetites and ignore wisdom and truth, we’ll have a very dark future ahead of us.
David Myron is editorial director of CRM magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.