Green Store Management
You’re running a small or midsized business, and you want to do
it right. That means bringing your environmental performance in line for a
healthier bottom line. But how to start working sustainably? Or, having
started, how to follow through? Before we begin, a few key fundamentals:
make sure you’re in compliance with state, local, and
federal environmental, health, and safety regulations. This gives your
beyond-compliance efforts a solid foundation. You may also gain additional
benefits: Some governmental programs offer reduced oversight and paperwork of
companies that are in full compliance.
understand how your business affects the environment, from the
things you buy, to your relationships with customers and suppliers, to the
full life-cycle of your products and services. At each step of the way, there
are opportunities to make choices that can help you align environmental
responsibility with business success.
begin to make changes where they can be done profitably — or at
least in a way that will not decrease profits and productivity for more than a
short period. It’s important to keep in mind that it isn’t possible to do
everything right; gradual, incremental progress is a worthy goal. Now, let’s
get started. There are dozens of ways companies of all sizes can reduce their
environmental footprints, save money, earn consumer trust and stakeholder
confidence, comply with government regulations, be ready to snag new market
opportunities, and boost efficiency and productivity. Here are some
suggestions on getting started, with links to additional resources.
Laying the Groundwork
Make sure you’re obeying the law.
Staying on top
of federal and state environmental, health, and safety requirements is an
essential first step toward greening your business. In many cases, this means
obtaining applicable operating permits, providing safety training to
employees, testing and repairing equipment regularly, and taking the necessary
steps to protect the environment and employees from toxic emissions.
Understand the rules from federal and local agencies that affect your
business. To prepare for inspections or audits, keep detailed records of the
measures your business has taken to ensure compliance. There re a number of
programs that provide free compliance assistance to small businesses.
Measure and track your waste.
Look at what resources your company
consumes — energy, supplies, raw materials — and what it wastes —finished ,
packaging, raw materials, energy, emissions. Try to measure and quantify this
waste: How much do you spend to purchase, handle, store, and dispose of the
wasted material? Your audit may be as simple as counting or weighing he trash
bags your company disposes of on a weekly or monthly basis, or checking energy
utility bills. Or it may involve bringing in professionals to assess your
company and make recommendations on how to reduce energy, redesign products or
distribution systems, and other efforts to reduce waste and save money.
Write an environmental vision statement.
It’s easier to get behind a vision when all your layers know what
the company stands for. This foundation will show customers, stakeholders, and
your community that your business is invested in the environment. With your
team, set an environmental vision statement and goals that all your employees
understand, and your managers will uphold. At minimum, such statements
commonly affirm a company’s intentions to respect the environment in the
design, production, and distribution of its products and services; commit the
company to being in full compliance with all laws, and to go beyond compliance
whenever possible; and establish an open-book policy whereby employees,
community members, and others can be informed of any potential adverse impacts
the company might have on the environment.
Rally the troops.
Employee participation is essential to a
successful environmental initiative. Bring together a team of employees to
promote environmentalism in the workplace. These troops an head up the
recycled-product purchasing effort, educate coworkers on environmental issues,
and keep track of environmental accounting for their department. Consider
creating incentives, rewards, and recognition for employees who take
leadership in your company’s environmental efforts. Name a periodic
“greenchampion” in order to single out individual employees’ environmental
Reduce office waste.
Use fewer products and use fewer raw materials
in the front office and administrative operations. Start with reducing paper
use: Establish a company-wide policy of photocopying on both sides of the
paper, using the blank side of printed material for creating draft documents,
and e-mailing reports instead of making printed copies. Use outdated forms and
letterheads for in-house memos, post memos in central locations rather than
distributing to all employees, and encourage saving documents on disk rather
than on paper. You’ll notice financial savings right away.
Understand your impact.
Conducting a lifecycle assessment looks at the
“cradle-to-grave”impacts of your products — from the raw materials to their
manufacture, sale, use, and disposal. Life-cycle assessments can help you
identify opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce waste, improve quality,
save money, and provide products that are more environmentally appealing to
Design for the environment.
Sustainable product design is simple. It
means you’ve thought ahead: Your product can be disassembled and recycled
easily — it has no toxics, uses few raw materials and packaging materials, has
fewer components, and takes less energy, water, andresources to produce than
traditional products. Goods designed for the environment also can be less
expensive to manufacture, and will keep you head of regulations
Take advantage of financial incentives.
state and local initiatives that provide financial incentives for
environmental efforts. assistance for corporate environmental efforts.