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Does Being Green Carry a Label?

March 24, 2013 - Ernest Hohmeyer
Is all of the information we face each day forcing us to create labels and possibly stereotypes too quickly?

The interest in being “green” can sometimes imply “more expensive.”

This leads into the debate of how you define “expensive.”

The Bottom Line?

Does this mean “cost” of the product to you? Does expense mean what is the cost to the planet? Or is it somewhere in between?

I think most of us want to do the right thing for our planet. Many of us have kids and want to see them flourish in a blossoming world not an endangered one.

But the bottom line is the bottom line even if it is a triple bottom line these days.

As we were talking about this as a family the other day and trying to figure out how “green” could we be, my wife pointed out a website “”

“Green Chaos”

Of interest is their term “green chaos.” Their homepage suggests “There's too much information and not enough guidance – it’s green chaos.” The aim of their efforts is to take this “complex subject to understand” by specializing in “green education, to teach you how you can make green living a part of who you are.”

They do a nice job in providing basic and advanced information.

When it comes to “green” community and business opportunities, I have my own labels and stereotypes to overcome.

We know that all this “going green stuff” is wonderful. But I constantly fight the notion that green is more “expensive.”

And how do I know that the changes I make will actually have an impact?

In looking over this web site, I realized that there are many who are pondering the same questions and perhaps education and understanding can be key factors in knowing how and where you can make more responsible decisions.

Green from Green?

I realized that I could develop a “green strategy” with one important outcome to save on the financial bottom line. For example, a “sustainability plan” could be part of a community or business plan.

One goal could be to understand how to change habits or products that keep you at the same level of expenditures or even save you money in the long run, so spending more money does not even have to be an issue.

And doing so does not have to cause “green fatigue.”

On there is a “Carbon Diet Priorities Chart” and the “Green Tips Library.” They talk about “6 Steps to Go Green” including:

“Step 1: Carbon Footprint” “The first step to go green” they write “is to understand your carbon footprint. Whether it's for your workplace or for you, it is important to understand how much carbon dioxide you are generating per year so you know what to focus on.” They suggest that we can do this by “…either calculate your carbon footprint using a calculator (e.g., Zerofootprint) or use a general profile of a typical carbon footprint as illustrated by the inverted pyramid [below].”

Other steps are broken down into 5 categories:

“Step 2: Transportation” “Step 3: Heating and Cooling” “Step 4: Electricity” “Step 5: Food” “Step 6: Products and Services”

Under their “Food” step they state an interesting piece of trivia: “The average Canadian meal travels 1,200 kilometers from field to plate. In addition, the average Canadian meal contains ingredients from five different countries…”

“Consumption and convenience have an impact on your carbon footprint,” they state and “making changes to these will take a conscious effort to change.”

Our Own Sustainability Plan?

It got me thinking about this idea of incorporating a sustainability plan into business. As many of us are small businesses what we do at the workplace often impacts our home. For us perhaps the triple bottom line is quadrupled thinking of the inter-connectedness of family and work space.

Is it possible to think of the changes we may need to consider in 3 categories:

• What will be a ONE TIME change? (Impact) • What can I change today? (Action) • What steps can I plan for today - for tomorrow? (Planning)

Many “steps” are obvious, but many others are much less so and some can involve a different way of thinking.

Small Steps?

Sometimes I think we often look for that one answer whether it is that one large company bringing jobs to town or a marketing idea that will create a rave. Most of the time though, it is the simple steps that can build a path that makes a difference.

For example, the use of disposable coffee cups. If you are a regular coffee junkie and live local I am sure you’ve made friends with the store workers by now. Some have programs that you can refill their store cup, or bring your own that matches the size of their disposable ones.

There are more difficult ones however, and they usually involve breaking habits or thinking out-of-the- box on new ways of doing business. Sharing, co-op purchasing and even marketing with your competitor whether it is a municipality or an organization can be an arduous undertaking. Perhaps it starts with a new definition of “cost and benefit.” All of us want results that show up today but we also know we need to plan ahead to make tomorrow happen.

With that all said – greening can be very simple. And it seems that there is a great deal of discussion on how to make it so.

Green for All Colors?

The great news is that the label of green as expensive may be vanishing. More importantly it seems to be okay to say that you want to be green and use it to save on your bottom line.

Perhaps wanting to be green is can be as simple as someone who as a teacher used to bring a plant to all of her presentations. It seemed she wanted to remind people to think green. But what she also meant was for all of us to think fresh, think new ideas – a great way to start and end any kind of triple bottom line conversation.


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