Stop Using the Term “Green Business”

It used to be that the term Green Business denoted a specific kind of product.

Something vaguely hippyish, maybe something marketed to a specific kind of person. Or perhaps something that simply was viewed as an environmental product, but not something that normal people would want to buy and use.

That definition should be thrown out the window.

All the big companies already know this. Most of the big American companies have a top-level “sustainability manager” or some similar title. Even most start-up companies know this.

What’s changed?

We have. Consumers today aren’t just interested in a good product.

No such thing as good for business but bad for the environment

Maybe what stymied the environmental movement in corporate America for so long was the separation between what is “good for the environment”, and what is “good for business.”

Why do they have to be separate?

They don’t.

Today, companies are being measured by more than the bottom line. In fact, there’s a term that encompasses this very idea.

The Triple Bottom Line.

An accounting framework with three parts: social, environmental (or ecological) and financial. Many organizations have adopted the TBL framework to evaluate their performance in a broader perspective to create greater business value.

The question really becomes… why wouldn’t a company do this?

Who wouldn’t want to run a successful business, give back to their community, and do good for the environment?

Instead of labeling a triple-legged-good business as a Green Business, we should label the bad businesses something all super-villainy. Dirty Business. Or Immoral Business. Or maybe something that denotes their extreme selfishness.

The food business has already been fighting for this very idea for years.

They’ve been trying for years to get genetically-modified foods labeled as such. (While this isn’t a requirement in Canada or the U.S., it’s a law in 64 other countries.) We should know those foods we’re buying and eating that aren’t organic, right?

Well, the same idea should apply to every other business. As a consumer, I want to know which companies or products are doing harm to the environment, and I want to assume that the rest of them are doing good.

Maybe that sounds simplistic. But it shouldn’t be. It should be what we demand.

How to meet the Triple Bottom Line

Once you’ve decided to go for the triple whammy, all your decisions are framed to meet additional standards besides just the bottom line and a good product.

To be considered a sustainable or green business, Wikipedia says a company must meet the following criteria…

  1. It incorporates principles of sustainability into each of its business decisions.

  2. It supplies environmentally friendly products or services that replaces demand for nongreen products and/or services.

  3. It is greener than traditional competition.

  4. It has made an enduring commitment to environmental principles in its business operations.

The first step is to get your employees on board.

Recent studies have demonstrated that employees are more engaged in their work, more innovative, more loyal more productive, and all around more excited about going to work when they know the company is doing good for the environment.

Millennials, who are increasingly dominating both the workforce and the consumer market, just hands down won’t work for you or buy from you if they don’t think you’re inspiring. Creating the future of your company with them in mind is smart business.

And to a Millennial, a green business is a smart business.

Most companies, both large and small, now have pages on their websites providing proof of how their company is devoted to sustainability. The same information is found in entire sections of their annual reports and C-level jobs have been created for someone to oversee this side of their business.

The next most important step is to tell the rest of us what you’re doing.

Show the World You’re Green

If consumers or clients perceive that you’re green, rest assured they’ll be more excited to do business with you.

I’m not talking about fudging here, though. Don’t throw up a webpage that talks about how green you are if you’re not actually doing it. Being green isn’t something to spin.

People want to know the good things you’re actually doing. And when you proudly demonstrate your green work, you’ll go far to creating customer loyalty.

Hire someone to use their communication skills to toot your green horn. Or, if that’s not in the budget, hire a freelancer.

However you do it, devote yourself to making it clear that being sustainable is important to you and that you’re a Green Business.

Otherwise, we might have to label you as the other guy… a Dirty Business.

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