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Oct 21, 2008

Tactics to Maintain and Inspire a Truly Green Attitude in Your Workplace

SUMMARY: Adding a healthy dose of ‘green’ to your workplace doesn’t have to be painful. You can help your company make a difference, as well as a profit.

Find out from an authority on environment-friendly businesses how you can turn your eco-innovations into a boon for your firm. Includes tips for cutting costs, paper use and more.
Jumping on the green marketing bandwagon is easy. Being a truly green marketer is much more difficult. But transforming your company’s operations doesn’t have to be painful.

Tim Sanders, Author, ‘Saving the World at Work: What Companies and Individuals Can Do to Go Beyond Making a Profit to Making a Difference’, has been studying how businesses are lowering their carbon footprints. For about 20 months, he and a team of graduate students interviewed and visited businesses large and small to uncover eco-innovations.

“We were trying to understand: how did you stumble onto this solution, and more importantly, how did you get it to scale inside your company?” he says. “The ideas do not have to come from the sustainability department. I’ve found them in legal, transportation, marketing and other departments.”

Discover ways Sanders and his team uncovered to lower printing costs, cut emissions and influence your business contacts to do the same. They’ll ease and support the implementation of your green marketing philosophy.

Sustaining an eco-friendly office: 4 Tips

Going green can cut costs and boost brand; it can also build employee affinity. A 2003 Stanford Graduate School of Business survey of 800 MBAs from 11 leading North American and European schools found that 97% of respondents were even willing to forgo financial benefits to work for an organization with a reputation for corporate social responsibility and ethics.

Some of the quickest and easiest ways to shrink your office’s carbon footprint is to cut its paper usage. Here are some tactics Sanders found:

Tip #1. Prohibit virgin paper

Eliminate all paper from your office that is not at least partially recycled. As the percentage of post-consumer recycled content goes up in paper, the environmental impact of the paper’s production decreases dramatically. (See paper calculator below)

“The price increase of 30% recycled or 100% recycled paper is almost negligible,” Sanders says. “It’s less than a few percent now at most major paper providers, and it doesn’t jam printers.”

Tip #2. Use duplex printers

Use a duplex printer so you print on both sides of a sheet of paper. It won’t cut your paper usage in half, but it can put a serious dent in it.

“The city of Seattle adopted duplex printing and cut its paper consumption 25%. Not all documents can be done that way, but the ones that can, it’s a big deal,” Sanders says.

Tip #3. Reuse all paper internally before recycling

Create a scratch paper box in your office. Use it instead of post-its or notebook paper when jotting down notes when on the phone or in a meeting.

Tip #4. “Make every page beg for its life”

Always preview before your print. Reformat your text, spacing and margins to squeeze more content onto fewer pages. Ask the graphic designers and layout specialists on your team for some advice.

You can encourage others to do the same by putting “think before you print” signs up near your printers.

Reduce External Printing: 3 Tips

When you send documents electronically, their recipients often print them out – especially long documents that are cumbersome to read on screen. You can bolster your green efforts by adopting practices that discourage printing of those documents or call for the use of fewer resources – if printing is necessary.

Tip #1. Reduce page count on outgoing content

The ‘make every page beg for its life’ principle works here, too. Send external documents with as few pages as possible, especially mass marketing materials with a high number of recipients.

“When I send a bloated 89-page PowerPoint slide deck that’s not even loaded in handout view, I should assume that at least a third of the time people just hit the print button and they gasp at about the 50th page. Happens all the time. Same thing with PDFs,” Sanders says.

Tip #2. Discourage printing your documents

Put little notes in your outgoing electronic documents that the recipients should avoid printing to help the environment. This could be as simple as a sentence in your signature written in green text. is a free tool that will load an applet into your PDFs that will serve a pop-up that discourages people from printing the document. The site is easy to use and will help lower your company’s indirect carbon footprint.

Tip #3. Use branded flash/thumb drives

A flash drive is a mini-hard drive that plugs into a computer’s USB port. They’re easy to use and are becoming cheaper. For companies that typically send a myriad of documents, they’re a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to avoid using too much paper. And, they’re cheaper to ship.

You can get branded two-gigabyte flash drives for about $8 each, Sanders says. Each can hold the equivalent of 20 trees in pages, he says.

Influence Business Partners

You can reduce your carbon emissions only so much. After that, you have to influence others to continue to reduce their impact on the planet. Some companies have calculated the emissions reductions they’ve convinced others to take and realized that those measures more than offset their company’s total carbon footprint, Sanders says. Technically, they’re operating at zero emissions.

If you’re a major advertiser at a publication, or a major account for a supplier, you can leverage your relationship to encourage them to go green. Tell the magazine that you’re thinking of moving your account to a publication published on recycled paper. Tell the shipping company that you’re considering switching to a competitor that uses a truck idling system that cuts down on emissions. You might help push them into green efforts.

You can also choose to work with greener companies. This will prevent straining any current relationships and help support your company’s green claims.

Plan Your Tasks Wisely

Although not related to printing, overnight shipping is integral to the PR industry. PR reps often have “overnight syndrome,” Sanders says. If you’ve got the disease, curing it can go a long way toward making your company greener.

“An overnight-shipped package has 12-times the environmental impact of a ground shipped package,” Sander says. “If you can’t reduce your overnight shipping by 80%, you need to take a time-management course.”

Talk the Walk

Is your company making genuine efforts to have a smaller impact on the environment? Then publicize it. It will make your customers feel better about choosing your brand, attract new customers and influence others to follow in your footsteps.

Do not be afraid of charges of ‘green washing’. The best way to avoid a controversy is to be consistently straightforward and truthful in your claims. If you’re making a sincere effort, explain it without overstating it.

Don’t Make These Common Green Marketing Mistakes

Going Green: How to Transition Catalog Users to Email & Lift Conversions 19%

Paper Calculator

Stanford Graduate School of Business Study

Tim Sanders Official Website

See Also:

Comments about this Interview

Jun 01, 2015 - Tanya Green of Workplace Safety Warehouse says:
Here here! Great advice on a topic that should be seen as critical to all of us. Another couple of ideas to add about a green workplace are: -Don't print at all. Send emails and soft-copies instead. -Never print a document that's expected to change that day as hardcopy draft documents are a total waste -If you need to print, make sure the prints count. Often times people print documents on shared printers and don't collect them quickly, so they get trashed and need to be printed again. -If your workplace is a retail outlet, ask if the buyer wants a receipt before printing it as many just get tossed out. Great post... thanks. Tanya Stay safe at work!

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