NATURE HAS a lot she can teach about efficiency. A few hundred million years of evolution have sculpted certain plants, like the cactus or lichen, to make the most with the barest minimum of resources. In an economy where every penny matters, mimicking Earth’s best survivors and paring down your company’s own resource consumption can not only lessen your overall environmental impact, but have similar results of spurring growth in an otherwise harsh climate.
Nuts and Bolts
Resource expenses in need of fine-tuning will obviously vary by company, but in general there are a few common areas to examine. Dinny Cawley, account manager for Smart Play USA, Little Silver, N.J., cited numerous examples of such areas where Smart Play USA has implemented changes, like updated plumbing to reduce water expense, a heat ventilation system to minimize reliance on air conditioning, and improved electrical transformers in its manufacturing and warehouse facilities to save on power. Your company may not have the cash (or property rights) to start replacing office plumbing and electrical systems, but there are other, simpler ways any business can reach similar results.
For example, switching to energy-saving light bulbs is an easy way to conserve, but what about opting for natural light? Mark Trotzuk, president of Boardroom ECO Apparel, Vancouver, Canada, has done just that with his facility. “We’ve converted and opened up a lot more windows in the building so we have natural light and don’t have to turn on the lights,” said Trotzuk. Boardroom ECO Apparel also does other little things, like using a French press to make coffee instead of a regular machine, which not only saves on energy and paper, but also makes a stronger, more flavorful cup.
Understandably, altering your company’s caffeine source may not be at the top of your eco-friendly list. There is one area in our industry, however, where most should consider cutting back: paper use. There are the smaller improvements that can easily be made, like limiting printing, copying and faxing, but what really warrants attention is ad sheet, pamphlet and catalog usage.
“We found that a lot of the people damaged the catalogs and threw a lot of them away, and when they actually needed them they requested them again,” said Cawley. “We all do that when something’s free—‘Oh sure, send me some’—[and] they get wasted.” Use of catalogs will obviously vary per your own sales strategy, but even reducing print spec sheets or ad leaflets for clients can have a positive impact. Cawley mentioned how the Web and other electronic materials are now an easy replacement for print. “It wasn’t appropriate a few years ago, but now people pretty much all have high-speed Internet, and people can get [the material] when they need it,” she said. “You can be very specific with what you’re sending them, and what they’re extracting from a Web site, without having that whole bulky catalog to carry around or utilize.” She elaborated further, explaining that even without the money and material saved, the speed of electronic copy often makes it a much stronger sales tool.