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Green marketing begins at home.

What can one say about marketing "the green revolution" that has not now been said in many, many other places, and probably better?

In fact, this very column has already dealt with socially responsible marketing and the environment, and articles on the green revolution sweeping business have been springing up all over the world faster than salary levels for baseball players at arbitration.

What's more, every advertisement worth its salt now focuses on the positive environmental impact and good practice attributed to its product. Recently, a leading battery manufacturer got into the act and talked about energizing the environment. In a leading business journal in early 1990, a diaper maker rocketed to prominence and wealth because the end product was known to be environmentally sound.

In the spring of 1990, Marketing magazine published a list of federal government's top ten award winners for environmental concern, and Time magazine published a report on the terrifying pollution still extant in Eastern Europe. In other words, green is good and it's everywhere.

So what more can be said? Well...

First, if you aren't paying any kind of attention to the environmental impact of your enterprise, you are bound for trouble, sooner rather than later. Every poll, every study, every informal research project known to humankind lists environmental concerns as public enemy number one; and if you are still not paying attention, wake up and smell the sulphur quick, or it will be too late.

Second, if you still have the misguided notion that your business does NOT make any adverse impact on the environment, rethink that one, too. Our own enterprise is a clean business, burns no noxious gases, emits no fumes, digs no holes, disturbs no wildlife and yet. . . each day we consume literally boxes of paper, most of it unnecessarily, and somewhere out there a small portion of a forest is impacted because our writers' block or designers' squiggles result in wanton waste that could almost certainly be avoided or reduced with a little more care and thought for the long term consequences of our creative squanderings.

Third, any kind of environmental marketing responsibility has to begin where all really effective marketing begins -- within our own organization.

Saying that we practice environmental responsibility is like saying we believe in Mission Statements. But talk without action is like tacking up the Mission Statement on the bulletin board and proclaiming, "Here, live this every day in our business." We have to do a lot more than just talk about it. For example:

* We can provide incentive schemes that encourage staff to think of ways in which we can "do better" environmentally. Many companies do this for other areas of their business; why not the environment?

* We can make the environment an issue at every staff meeting. Encourage idea sharing, brief presentations, discussion of successes and failures insofar as the company's environmental habits are concerned.

* We can start evaluating suppliers not merely on the basis of their abilities, but on their social responsibility as well. Any print shop in our line of work who doesn't know about recycled paper for example, is only hurting itself.

* We can make the company's environmental practices part of our orientation program for new employees.

* We strive to practice good basic environmental common sense in all the little ways. If our lunch room is still littered with non-biodegradable fast food packaging, chances are the message isn't getting through to our staff.

* We might take a walk through the business and think of ways to improve environmental practice. Throw out the styrofoam coffee cups, for example; question whether two-ply toilet paper is really necessary; re-check the cleaning fluids used by our janitorial staff; question whether the fans in the shower rooms are really clearing out the natural fungus build-up; check out our lighting because some has been found to be environmentally hazardous; and what about the foods served in the cafeteria -- can changes be made there?

* Trite though it sounds, we can ensure that the plant or office is as neat and tidy overnight as it can be. The discipline of leaving a clean work area is not only good safe practice but it denotes a larger concern about the world around us -- to leave it as we would like to find it on a brand new morning.

* We should subscribe to a least one publication on the environment and make it part of the company reading program.

* We can send staff to environmental seminars, trade shows, think tanks. Only when we hear about the issue time after time after time will its true importance sink into our heads like the drip, drip of the proverbial Chinese water torture.

We might consider using our donations program to help environmental organizations. Of more value yet, we can provide people in our company to speak on these issues, to participate in public service causes, to contribute that most vital resource -- time -- to the globe's most pressing problem.

* If we have a Mission Statement and it does not yet reflect our environmental responsibility, we should consider changing it, with all the communication to employees and others that this entails.

In short, environmental marketing is not just making a product that is good to the world around us. That's important, yes. But much more vital is the need for everyone in every organization to think of environmental responsibility as naturally as he or she may do about any other area of business. Soon, good environmental practice will become as natural as putting on the coffee in the morning -- and much more stimulating.

More Ideas for "Greening" the Office

* Combat indoor pollution with houseplants such as English Ivy, dracaenas, and palms. These freshen stale air and help remove toxins such as benzene, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde from the air.

* Cancel unnecessary subscriptions to magazines or newspapers.

* Reuse paper from the printer, fax, or photocopier. Just stroke through the irrelevant side.

* Turn lights off when not in use and turn off computers at the end of the day.

* Purchase reusable office supplies such as rechargeable batteries and mechanical pencils.

* Make double-sided documents and reduce your paper consumption by half.

* Avoid buying over-packaged goods. For example, buy cream in a carton rather than in individual containers.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Canadian Institute of Management
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Barrow, Peter
Publication:Canadian Manager
Date:Dec 22, 1992
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