Are you making money at being green? Email
Monday, September 22, 2014 02:14 PM

Recycle bins

What is our industry doing to take advantage of growing environmental awareness?

Not much. The green industry is way behind other industries when it comes to promoting and marketing green. That’s partly because no one is asking us for the service. It is also because when we do provide a naturally green product or service, we fail to promote it or to think about related opportunities.

By not thinking green, we’re missing the critical opportunity to claim first-mover advantage. If you are on the cutting edge in your community to promote a green operation and offer beneficial green services, you will have claimed a new competitive advantage. Landscape companies across the country have a wide-open opportunity to become known as the green choice.

So what does it mean to become known as a green or sustainable company?
It means creating a company culture of conservation that will reduce your expenses and set the example among your team and within your community to do what’s right for the world. It in a win-win-win. Part of that win means having products and services to sell that will pay off financially.

What do these green products and services look like?
They involve reducing, reusing, recycling and repurposing whenever you can on your projects and also when you’re back at the shop or office.

  • Reduce can mean buying hybrid cars for managers and operating energy-saving equipment in the field. Many companies reduce emissions from gas-powered equipment by converting to propane. 
  • Re-use can be as simple as having coffee mugs and glasses in the office instead of disposable ones. What else in your operation is built around “disposables” that doesn’t have to be?
  • Recycle can mean using recycled paper as well as recycling it. Turning in scrap metal and batteries and grass cycling are all easy ways to recycle. 
  • Repurpose can be as efficient as transforming materials such as concrete, stone or wood that are already on a site to another use. Or it can involve capturing a product or material from elsewhere and applying it to a new, cool use in the landscape – or even in the office or shop.

Are you pushing suppliers and customers?
These principles also extend to how you select and work with suppliers. Have you thought of petitioning your suppliers to provide products in recycled containers? And think about customers. Could you expand your services by picking up recyclables and compostable debris from them? These could be ways to increasing your value.

Most companies are already fitting in with these principles somewhere along the spectrum. They may have taken steps during the recession as ways to go more lean and mean. Added efficiency, conserving resources and cutting costs in the process are all good business. It’s what Vail Resorts did when they went carbon neutral by offsetting coal-generated electricity with 100% wind energy.

The biggest opportunity for most green industry companies rests in the synergy of combining all these ideas and marketing themselves as a green company. Like Vail Resorts, you may already have a story to tell. Are you telling yours?

Excerpts courtesy Jeffrey Scott, a consultant and author who specializes in helping green industry companies brand and grow their business. [email protected]

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