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Being a green business is a complicated prospect

We feature many green companies here at Daily Grommet. Whether it's a company making Fair Trade Sports Balls, an electric composter -- which itself can be recycled -- or a revolutionary waterless car wash, green companies come in many varieties. Going "green" is an admirable company decision, but as our guest today points out-- it is not always an easy one.

Dave Mesicek from Common Soles stops by the blog today to share his insights about the reality of being a green business.

by Dave Mesicek

At Common Soles, we strongly believe that all businesses need to incorporate the consideration of environmental health into their business strategy and practices. We have made it a core tenant of our business model from the beginning. Since making it public that we were going to be an environmentally conscious business we have made some significant headway. On a product side we have incorporated re-purposed materials into all our flip-flops. Components made from coconut shells and natural woven jute are prime examples. We also do not leverage heavy machinery in our manufacturing. All assembly is done by hand in the factories that make Common Soles. Cool!

Our day-to-day business practices are also an area we have brought in the green perspective. We print very little paper in our office, relying on electronic files for just about everything. We keep the windows open, and rely on natural light as much as possible. In fact, the only items using electricity at Common Soles this moment (4:14pm) are two laptops, a label printer, and a phone. Not much at all! But that is only part of the picture…

The truth of it all is that being a green business is kind of a complicated prospect. Being truly green would require us to not consume any resources at all. In the same time we would somehow be improving the environment all while still being a business and generating positive cash flow from operations.  Yeah – that’s a challenge.
Greening your business is tough.
Just sending an email consumes resource. According to McAfee, email consumes an enormous amount of resource. Recently McAfee released a report called “The Carbon Footprint of Spam”. Some key findings were:
  • In 2008, 62 trillion spam emails were sent (wow!)
  • Spam emails used 33 billion kW/h in 2008 in order to be processed (that is equivalent to the energy use in 2.4 million homes for a year, or it is equivalent to using 2 billion gallons of gasoline)
  • Spam filtering is equivalent to taking 13 million cars off of the roads; one spam email requires the same amount of energy as driving 3 feet (the annual volume of email spam requires enough energy to drive around the earth 1.6 million times)
The primary reason for such high numbers is a result of the enormous amount of electricity data servers consume. Server farms are no joke. These super-rooms are highly climate controlled warehouses stacked with electricity gobbling servers humming along 24/7/365.
So how does that all compare at the end of the day with sending just 1 email from 1 person to another? Well, the report states that an email produces about 9 grams of CO2 per. Compare that to the 20-25 grams of CO2 for a traditional piece of mail sent via the postal service and yes – you do have a “greener” solution. But is it really greener?? I don’t know about you, but I get WAY more emails then I ever did regular mail. So when you add up all those emails – net loss. Bummer…
So the reality of being a truly green business is a bit bleak. The intention of this blog post isn’t to bum you out – just to share some of our findings at Common Soles in building out and researching how to make our business a greener entity.
So please, have at it in making your work-place a greener environment. Because even if we all just do a little, it adds up to a number that actually makes an impact. Below are some resources you may find helpful – we did.
StartupNation.com A basic guide titled “9 Steps to Greening your Business”
Fast Company Some best practices and ideas shared in an article: “50 Ways to Green Your Business”
CarbonFootprint.com Carbon footprint calculator

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