If you’ve been reading any of the various green blogs lately you may have noticed a trend. Green is dead. Dead as a doornail. Dead on arrival. Dead, dead, dead. Even GreenBiz.com it seems has had enough.
Ok, you caught me. This is a slightly veiled attempt at reverse psychology with the goal of keeping Green and Sustainability fresh in your mind. And that’s what it’s really all about isn’t it? Marketing on a continual basis, always changing the angle slightly, never letting the message falter.
My youngest Son once told me while watching an extremely stupid commercial on TV, I think it was Geico, the talking pothole one, “That’s so lame! Why would they make something like that?!!” I just smiled and asked him if he remembered what the commercial was for? He said “That Geico insurance thing”, he retorted indignantly. I said, “Worked then, didn’t it?” He just sat there, rolled his eyes and mumbled, “Guess so.”
If you’ve been following the sustainability marketing movement over the past three-or-so years, I don’t need to tell you that once upon a time, everybody and their mother had a green marketing message, as if that was going to be the magic red carpet that all your dream customers were going to use to beat a path to your door. When that didn’t happen by osmosis, many just walked away and moved on to other selling propositions; speed, service, price. Pick any three. The angle changed, but the core goal remained. Get more revenue. Keep the stockholders and/or stakeholders happy. Sustain economically.
The triple bottom line is referred to by different groups in varying order depending on priorities pertaining to which carries more weight; fiscal, human or green. We like to treat all equally, but in reality, unless you either are or want to become a non-profit entity, you have to put ethical economic responsibility first. Then you can deal with being socially and environmentally responsible (beyond regulatory compliance, of course).
What many have found out if they didn’t know it already is that sustainability costs time and money. Some out there have embraced it as an investment and yes, a differentiator. Just take a close look at the winners of the WTT Environmental Innovation Awards winners for 2011. Many out there however have not. Maybe you have been disillusioned by the lack of acceptance of your green efforts. Maybe the ROI wasn’t quite what you projected. Maybe you believe in environmental and social responsibility and you do your best within your budget which quite frankly isn’t much.
With regard to sustainable practices, you may have changed your light fixtures, upgraded your HVAC system or set up some other revenue-positive activities such as enhanced recycling, and increased efficiencies of equipment and processes through the implementation of the latest labor-reducing process automation devices and software. Good for you!
Given realistic economic limitations, what else can you do? My suggestion if you haven’t done so already is weave a Greensourcing policy into every facet of your purchasing DNA. Every single thing you buy, rent or lease has at least one sustainability-oriented alternative. The-truth-be told and the facts-be-known sometimes it’s not the most cost-effective. That’s where a conscious effort to first discover the alternative, and second evaluate the benefits of a “green concession”; cost vs. perceived value, comes into play.
Government and institutional print buyers do this consistently for woman and minority owned businesses, economic development zones and certified products. Why can’t you? Purchase order boilerplates and contract T’s and C’s can have an X% price concession for verifiable sustainability-friendly options built in as part of a competitive bidding process… or not. The determination of cost versus benefit can then be weighted independently during a sometimes necessarily anecdotal evaluation process. Of course recyclability and lifecycle analysis options should be considered too as part of the total cost of ownership.
So that’s it. Change one thing. Ask for a sustainable alternative or preference in addition to the status quo in everything you procure from TP to PC’s to C1S. Make it a directive, track the results, measure the activity and the cost. Then publicize your Greensourcing policy. Then publicize your Greensourcing policy. Then publicize your Greensourcing policy. Ok, that last repetitive part was stupid. I can see my Son rolling his eyes at me now.