What does it mean to be Green?

January 22nd, 2009

As retailers and other companies struggle with the current tough economic conditions

As retailers and other companies struggle with the current tough economic conditions, do green initiatives suffer? If they do, is there a long term cost?

This author believes that it is in the toughest of times that those committed to their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives should get tougher about making sure that their trading partners are adhering to the same strategies.

Unfortunately, not many companies have adopted Triple Bottom Line accountability or (TBL) which is a measurement that determines if businesses have a positive impact on the three important areas of people, profit and planet or the three P’s, even though it has become the standard framework for CSR agendas.

I have not heard one single analyst when speaking of the present economic condition give credit to any company relative to CSR initiatives if their earnings are below expectations. After all it is about the money, and if the earnings are not in line with expectations, jobs are lost, stock prices suffer and excuses galore flow freely.

We all know that green initiatives are expensive and the benefits may or may not be realized for years. So, this might be the ideal time to put projects on the back burner for companies that are struggling. Or it might be the time to make sure that all suppliers you have been doing business with for two or more years are continuing to adhere to the same types of initiatives that you are. A simple review of their strategies when you place your next order can be as simples as asking some of the following questions.

1. I know things are tight right now, but can you tell me what your company is doing relative to green initiatives.
2. Are you doing anything to reduce your use of water?
3. What are you doing to insure that toxic ingredients are not in your products
4. What are you doing to reduce packaging?
5. What are you doing to eliminate hazardous materials?
6. Are you doing anything with organic ingredients?
7. Are you using any form of renewable energy?
8. How are these initiatives going to impact your cost structure today?
9. How are these ititntitves going to impact your pricing tomorrow?

The answers to these and other questions you may come up with can help you understand the smart companies to source your products from. The companies that support your CSR initiatives with theirs. Armed with this information the next step is to make sure your consumers and employees are also aware of what you and your trading partners are doing to support the environment they work and live in. More on that later…..

As always, we look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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