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Building your green reputation

Tuesday, 15 March 2011 | By Richard Nicol

In businesses of all sizes, reputation is a crucial aspect in the level of success you can expect to achieve. A good reputation generally takes a long time to build but can be ruined very quickly.

 

Having in place strong environmental controls and policies can enhance your reputation in a variety of ways.

 

As environmental impact minimisation and sustainability principles become more mainstream in business, clients will more often expect good levels of performance in these areas.

 

As a start-up, you have a unique opportunity to start building a reputation in this area which can easily surpass a majority of your existing competitors.

 

As I have mentioned before, it is a lot easier to set up your green practices at the beginning of your business journey rather than when you become established.

 

There are a variety of well recognised labels and accreditations that can certify that your business cares for the environment. Some of these include:

  • Certified Organic
  • Carbon Neutral
  • ISO 14001 accredited
  • Good Environmental Choice Australia product labelling (GECA)
  • Accredited Green Power

While some of these certifications may be relatively expensive, there is nothing stopping you from putting the principles behind these certifications into practice.

 

Minimising waste, purchasing green electricity and sourcing sustainable office supplies are some of the things that are required for these accreditations.

 

One of the cheapest and most meaningful measurements you can make is to have a carbon analysis and footprint report compiled according to ISO 14064 – quantifying and reporting greenhouse gases.

 

This is something you can measure, report publicly and then improve on over time. Having a certificate on your wall stating the levels of carbon dioxide your business emits and showing a progressive reduction can be a very powerful tool.

 

Why would you do any of this?

 

Apart from saving you money on energy, waste and water, greening your business will provide you with an added marketing edge that in some instances can create a lot of free publicity.

 

One way to do this is to go carbon neutral. It can cost surprisingly little to do and if none of your competitors have gone carbon neutral it could result in the sort of exposure that would normally cost tens of thousands of dollars.

 

Clients that prefer to purchase products from sustainable businesses will generally be more loyal, often don't mind paying a bit extra and will be more likely to recommend you to their like-minded peers.

 

Increasingly, people entering the workforce consider how sustainable their potential future employer is.

 

Studies have shown that sustainable businesses will attract staff that perform better and tend to stay in the job longer, particularly if they have the opportunity to contribute to minimising the business environmental footprint.

 

Working towards gaining a good reputation is a smart long-term strategy for any start-up and by going greener you are taking a heavy first step in securing that sort of reputation.

 

But beware, falsely advertising green credentials could land you in a lot of hot water.