Blog Action Day 2009: 5 Business Strategies for Going Green



Business Pundit is celebrating Blog Action Day 2009 by offering businesspeople strategies for going green.
The topic this year is climate change. We’ve listed five strategies companies can use to go green, both to preserve planetary health and tend to the bottom line.

We emphasize value-added activities that will increase perception of your company and help marketing efforts. Use these tips in conjunction with energy-saving efforts that lower operating costs.

1. Go renewable–and let everyone know

wind

Renewable energy bolsters public perception of a company. It marks you as a responsible, conscientious, caring organization. Harness this perception to attract more customers and increase your market share.

Whole Foods, for example, has established a “Green Mission” that includes offsetting all of its energy consumption with wind energy credits. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency named Whole Foods its Green Power Partner of the Year in 2006 and 2007. A slew of good publicity followed.

Other large corporations, including FedEx, Wal-Mart, Costco, and Safeway also have renewable energy programs.

2. Market to guilt

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Image: Stuff Young Jewish Adults Like

Humans, specifically Americans, generate most of the CO2 emissions that contribute to global warming. This sordid fact weighs on the public conscience, compelling consumers to seek out products and services green enough to assuage their guilt. Offering ways to mitigate enviro-guilt draws more customers to your company, which ultimately can boost your bottom line.

For example, the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) recently became the first airport in the country to offer carbon offset kiosks. With a simple swipe of a credit card, customers contribute to reforestation and biofuels, assuaging their sense of guilt about boarding a fuel-hungry, CO2-emitting jet. The program certainly differentiates SFO from other nearby airports, potentially boosting perception to the point of attracting more fliers.

Oil- and gas company BP is another example. It touts itself as one of the first oil companies to “take precautionary action to address climate change.”

Company officials emphasize that BP has made efforts to reduce emissions at its extraction operations, innovated a new type of gas that emits fewer toxins, and invested in clean technology research.

Does that absolve BP from the fact that it makes money by mining oil? No, but by emphasizing its efforts to mitigate the damage, BP is tacitly admitting that although it’s a bad guy, it wants to do good by the environment. In other words, it is appealing to consumer guilt.

SEE ALSO:
SWOT Analysis: What Is It and How to Use It?

Note: Some might label BP’s efforts as greenwashing. Regardless, it is using the tried-and-true tactic of addressing consumer guilt to clean its image.

3. Green your logo

bp

Speaking of greenwashing, we make this point with a caveat: If you green your logo, please do something to back it up. Run your organization off renewable energy. Weatherize your building. Donate to eco-wise nonprofits. Sell green products. Otherwise, you risk being seen as a greenwasher.

Back to whipping boy BP. It’s an oil company, but its logo–a green flower-like symbol–evokes feelings of green. Does BP’s green logo and website design make the oil company look more environmentally friendly? On a subconscious level, it does.

If I didn’t know what BP was, and saw its logo for the first time, my first impression would be of a pretty green flower. Logo-wise, it looks much greener than, say, Chevron, whose red-and-blue logo evokes more patriotic feelings on first impression. Design counts.

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4. Donate to Earthy causes

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Reserve a portion of your profits for a nonprofit that works to restore the planet, like 1% For the Planet. Or make monthly/annual donations to an organization that preserves and restores nature. Making a financial commitment will show the general public that you put your money where your mouth is. Make sure that you publicize your donations well.

5. Sell eco-minded products

bag
Image: Zazzle/Eco Girl

Nobody was buying canvas bags in the 1980s. Now, almost every grocery store sells lines of reusable shopping bags at the checkout counter.

People want to go green–and they’ll spend money to do it. Address that need with new products and services. They can complement your current offerings, or represent a deviation from your traditional wares. If you’re a service, develop a new brand that addresses the needs of people in the burgeoning green industry. Or market to people who want to feel more green.

Read up on what other bloggers have to say at BlogActionDay.org.