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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.