Greening Is a Cultural Thing

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Going green or adopting a proactive stance on sustainable practices has risen to the level of mainstream conversation in the same way that other business practices such as safety and training have.

But, truly creating a green culture goes much deeper than buying energy efficient light bulbs, monitoring computer energy, recycling waste and committing to earth friendly marketing, manufacturing and shipping processes.

In fact, it goes deeper than creating green events, employee rideshares, community gardens, sustainable design, coworking and collaborative offices.

While these are important elements in the cycle, a true green business comes from embracing the idea at level of a higher purpose or what some might call mission.

Being green isn’t just about recycling, it’s about nurturing, growing things, instead of just using them. In fact, being green has as much to do with purpose and people as it does plastic and paper.

Green business practices can be inconvenient and in some cases more expensive to implement so often, like safety and training initiatives they are given lots of ink in the annual report, but exist at only the most basic level.

Policy can only take an organization so far. The deepest green is about growth and nurturing at the cultural level of a business.

If a company’s primary purpose is to grow and nurture its people, community, industry and planet, then even the smallest business can call itself green in a way that makes a meaningful difference.

The outcome of this kind of thinking is a green business that happens to make or sell something rather than a business the adopts green principles.

The simplest way to move your organization to this way of thinking is to tackle it from both ends. In other words, hire at the most basic level, people that embrace green thinking and embrace, at the highest level, audacious green goals, such as building a company that produces zero net waste.

The combination of this top down and bottom up thinking at the tactical level can help an organization start living nurturing at its roots.

Some of my favorite green business resources include – Coworking.org, Greenbiz and The Aspen Institute.

For a great list of state and local energy efficiency resources, check out Business.gov.

For some inspiration check out TerraCycle, a company with a business model that creates products from other people’s waste streams and has a net negative manufacturing cost – other people pay them to acquire their raw material.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • angelawills

    I totally agree! Going green is so much more a state of mind than a number of ‘things to do’ to say you’ve got a green business.

    As a home-based business owner myself I sometimes haven’t really thought of my own place in the ‘green business’ movement but I know we all do have a place. In many ways we’re already contributing by spending less gas to commute to work and working ‘virtually’ with less paper, but I’m sure there’s more to do.

    Thanks for the links, will check them out!

  • angelawills

    I totally agree! Going green is so much more a state of mind than a number of 'things to do' to say you've got a green business.

    As a home-based business owner myself I sometimes haven't really thought of my own place in the 'green business' movement but I know we all do have a place. In many ways we're already contributing by spending less gas to commute to work and working 'virtually' with less paper, but I'm sure there's more to do.

    Thanks for the links, will check them out!

  • vitaly

    also 1% for the planet foundation…similar to terracyle…helps reduce carbon footprint for some businesses

  • vitaly

    also 1% for the planet foundation…similar to terracyle…helps reduce carbon footprint for some businesses

  • Karen Scharf

    Its not only a cultural thing, greening should be a personal responsibility.

    • http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog ducttape

      No argument there, but I was really touching on what I see as a missing ingredient even for those that believe it’s the right thing to do.

  • Karen Scharf

    Its not only a cultural thing, greening should be a personal responsibility.

  • http://www.abcfaeries.com Susanne

    I like how you state that “it’s about nurturing, growing things, instead of just using them.” This is a fundamental truth that people really need to understand. I personally cannot wait for the day when we all start treating this earth with the respect it deserves.

    • Gicomeng

      Why wait, Susanne? You could start showing your respect for the Earth right now by capitalizing the first letter of our planet’s name. : )
      http://www.DrugUseEducation.org

  • http://www.addingitup.com Rod Watkins

    I’m a huge proponent of recognizing that our resources are limited and we must start thinking and acting sustainably. To that end, great post.

    However there are still many businesses, including major ones, that regularly engage in blatant Greenwashing, or pretending to be green in order to earn points with consumers. I believe that part of “acting green” must also include criticizing this egregious behavior.

  • Mike S.

    This was a great article! We put together a couple of lists of ways to make your home/business more sustainable that you guys might find useful.

    The list for homes is here:

    http://greenready.webs.com/helpingathome.htm

    This is the one for businesses:

    http://greenready.webs.com/helpingathome.htm

    Let me know what you think!