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MANAGING GREEN BUSINESS

People sometimes refer to themselves as environmentalists without reallyunderstanding what the term signifies. A true environmentalist is committed tosafeguarding our planet while ensuring the good health of all living things.

A great example of all-around environmentalism is organic farming. Organic farmersgrow fruits, vegetables, and grains without the use of chemical pesticides andherbicides. They rely on beneficial bugs to keep away harmful insects while rotatingcrops and fertilizing to keep soil rich and full of nutrients. These practices protect theEarth and provide clean, vitamin-rich foods to nurture our bodies. Organic farming isa win-win situation for the Earth and all its inhabitants.

As a business manager, you must decide how deep into environmentalism you wantyour company and product to go. Let's take vegetarianism as an example. Some callthemselves vegetarians yet continue to consume fish. Others are vegans, the mostextreme form of vegetarianism. Vegans do not eat anything of animal origin. Thatincludes eggs, honey, cheese and milk products, and gelatin. Some dedicatedanimal rights activists take veganism one step further and refuse to wear leather,silk, feathers, wool, or fur.

A dedicated environmentalist faces many business-related challenges. In today'ssociety it is almost impossible to be 100 percent environmentally friendly. Forexample, all those organic farmers must still use gasoline to run their tractors, andthe most environmentally sensitive product must still be shipped by truck or planeboth of which use polluting fuels.

Challenges can first surface in the selection of raw materials. Will they be grownorganically and manufactured in a sustainable manner? Or will they come frommainstream, and often less expensive, sources? From there, you may have todecide on manufacturing methods that do not pollute the air or water. Earth-friendlybusinesses use the least amount of packaging and shipping materials, and ensurethose materials that are used are from recycled sources and are able to be recycledthemselves. These companies are also proud of the fact that they treat theiremployees fairly and humanely.

Not every company is willing or able to commit to every one of the aboveenvironmental guidelines. However, there are still many choices you CAN make. Youcan decide if your business will focus on sustaining the planet, appealing toenvironmentally aware and chemically sensitive people, or both. Are you purchasingyour raw materials from Earth-friendly vendors? What are your recycling standards?Are you buying recycled materials (ink, paper, cardboard, etc.)? Is your final productand its packaging recyclable, or will only part of your product be recyclable? Will youhonor and promote organic certification?

If you cannot meet every one of these criteria, does that mean there is no place foryou in this industry? I don’t think so. Just like the vegetarian who continues to eat fishand eggs, business executives can call themselves earth-friendly even though theirproduct may not be 100 percent organic and not all of their packaging materialscome from recycled sources. Many new "natural stores" started out with plasticbuttons admonishing readers to Save the Earth! Green business is still in its infancy.The good news is that environmentalism is on the upswing. Environmentalawareness is increasing daily, and the majority of Americans say they care aboutthe Earth and want it protected.

Transform your business into a sustainable enterprise and reap the rewards for youand your community in many ways. We all save money and health in the long run.Isn't that good business?

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Written by: Delia Montgomery, Chíc Eco


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