Just as bacteria grow into a culture on a Petri dish, the right conditions need to be created to grow a green culture, a culture that grows from the influence of environmental conservation. Unfortunately, turning a green culture into the society of business is not as simple as spitting on a dish and placing it into an incubator. Whenever money is concerned, there will always be the debate of how to complete a task efficiently, with the least amount of cost. Some believe that starting from the top will make the fastest change; like ripping a band-aid off all at once. It will be painful, but the pain will go away. Others believe that starting slow at the bottom is the best direction to go. Like a garden, you must start from a seed and let the idea get set in everyone’s mind and fertilize into something bigger. Lastly, the best idea might be to simply create a group focused on taking on sections of the company at a time, like a movement on social media. The idea might affect only a local area first, but soon it will become infectious and encompass the entire company.
Hats Off to You
The Subaru Car Company started from the top down with an executive order that the company needed to become a zero waste to landfill plant. So, at the Indiana plant the order went out to find ways to stop sending waste out and find ways to keep it in house, reuse it, or prevent it from the beginning. Every area of the plant was reviewed including the cafeteria. Subaru even opened up to suggestions from employees on how to reduce waste and save energy. They received hundreds of suggestions.
After two years, Subaru achieved their executive order and became one of the first plants in the United States to become a zero waste to landfill plant. By making the move all encompassing from top to bottom, the company executed the plan quickly and saw savings in energy and waste costs reductions in the millions.
Stuck in the Middle
From the middle, a company might either have a single department suggest some environmental changes that could be done within that department, or a company might assign a particular task to be focused on. For example, a company can make a change by saving energy through revamping the lighting system or utilizing the need to purchase a new heating system to find a green solution. Sometimes it takes a single spark to start a forest fire of green enthusiasm.
When the lighting system is replaced then a solution might be found for helping to power the new system, possibly with a solar array or wind tower. To help conserve energy further, a business could move onto how to keep energy from being loss by upgrading older windows and the buildings heating system. Working from the middle allows a company to take one area at a time, thus accommodating for those companies that may not be able to afford a top to bottom, or bottom to top, approach all at once. There is time for the business to realize some savings and then use those savings in turn to help move onto another green project.
The bottom up approach would start at the employee level either by the employees initiating a want to go green, or simply by starting with green training. A company doesn’t have to start with a complete work over of the company to make an overall change in their green status. The business can start a green change by effectively training their employees on the importance of becoming environmentally conservative. It can be as simple as starting with conservation of water in the bathrooms and break rooms and handling of trash.
Training should include proper use of recycling materials from aluminum cans, shredded paper, to food waste from lunch. Once employees understand the importance and see the results of recycling directly, they will be more receptive and open to further changes in procedures throughout the plant, or business. With the support of employees larger projects can be completed more effectively and more ideas can be presented. Finally, as management sees the efficiency in work and recycling direct result on revenue savings, larger and more costly projects can be taken on.
No matter which method a business chooses to enter the arena of environmental conservation, the result will be more efficient production, larger savings in utility costs, and larger revenue returns as consumers select their product or service over other non-participating companies. Like the saying goes for a motorcyclist, it’s not a question of if you will be in a crash, but when. So too is the statement true about environmental conservation and businesses. It’s not a question of how you became green, so much as whether you are green.