The short answer to this question is, ALL of them, but the bad ones are really bad, while the environmentally conscious ones are just ‘not so bad’. Because the uncomfortable truth is that we all use up unreplaced resources from the planet. We all put carbon dioxide and other ‘greenhouse gases’ into the atmosphere and we all contribute to waste in landfills. The only question for small business owners is, ‘what are you going to do about it?’
What Gets Measured Gets Done.
This an old and often used adage in business circles both big and small. But it is no less true for being a cliche. Businesses that aren’t aware of their carbon footprint and other environmental impacts, are bad businesses. Bad for their customers, bad for the World and sooner or later bad for their owners too.
Keeping your place of business warm in the winter and cool in the summer pumps unacceptably large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Too many buildings do not meet the environmental standards, that we now know are the only way to meet our green responsibilities. Businesses that occupy premises because they are cheaper, are failing to measure the full impact of their actions.
Too many workplaces are built from materials that have been extracted and not replaced because the bad construction firms took the short term profit view rather than measuring the long term environmental consequences of their output.
Offices and factories are the biggest energy consuming sector of the economy. Gas, electricity and oil are irreplaceable fossil fuels and bad businesses do not measure their consumption. Nor do they make the efforts necessary to minimize waste and thereby CO2 emissions.
Businesses that are focussed on the short term, bottom line are bad businesses and it is these that are killing the planet.
Reuse and Recycle.
Small businesses it often seems, run on paper. Even with modern day recycling facilities and the perpetual exhortations of the green movement far too much paper ends up in landfills around the country. Bad businesses are not aware of their paper usage. Bad businesses focus on quality control rather than ‘right first time’ quality processes in EVERY aspect of their daily activities. Bad businesses adversely affect the environment more than conscientious green small businesses.
Bad businesses see waste as just defective products or unavoidable warranty claims.
Good businesses know that there are 8 different forms of waste. Good businesses engage with all of their employees to solve problems, develop innovative processes and create new products and services in green ways. All of us have an interest in protecting the planet’s scarce resources and employees are instinctively against businesses that don’t measure, don’t care about and waste stuff, like computer equipment, phones, photocopiers, furniture and their time. People want to work for good environmentally conscious businesses and they don’t want to work for bad businesses.
Standard Hours Businesses are Bad Businesses.
The rush hour is not only bad for the people involved in the daily commute it is really bad for the environment. All those cars, vans and lorries choking up our major city arteries twice a day, Monday to Friday, are burning unnecessary amounts of fossil fuels and pumping CO2 and other noxious particles into the air. Bad businesses are polluting businesses that never question the necessity of tying people down to work schedules that may or may not be appropriate for meeting their customer requirements.
According to newsweek magazine the biggest polluting companies are the utility companies. We cannot do without gas and especially electricity. So we are all guilty of adversely affecting the environment. And not only this. Our pension funds and mutual funds invest heavily in utilities, so that our personal pensions are built on greenhouse gases.
Green Management is Good Business.
Small business owners can have much more of a positive effect on our environment than can any individual. Smart business owners measure the carbon footprint of their enterprises and the all of their other environmental impacts. They work tirelessly to involve all employees in reducing, reusing and recycling any and all resources within their circle of influence. The elimination of waste in all forms is a major cost saving. Engaged employees and innovative ideas for doing things differently are major contributors to profit. Aiming to be carbon neutral and triple zero…zero waste, zero accidents and zero delay are business aims as valid and valuable as being ‘the best’, ‘the biggest’, ‘the supplier of choice’ or any other worthy business vision.