4 Reasons Why Smart Businesses Go Green

by Norah Magraby, April 22, 2012

So green is now a trend in the Middle East – even though it’s still to catch on in Saudi Arabia.  It's also a term that's been going around for quite some time in different parts of the world. But what's the real deal with "Going Green"? And why should businesses care?

Sustainability support initiative Naqa'a shares with you the basic four "Why Go Green?" drivers of any business:

1. Go Green for the Environment

This may not be your top reason of why you should Go Green, but it definitely is the main reason behind the concept of environmental sustainability. Why? Simply because you won't have a business if you don't have a planet to do your business on!

Not convinced? Here are some business-environment facts you may not be aware of:

  • The average business consumes 3.6 tons of paper/year - The equivalence of a large garden full of trees. Assuming an average sized city has 100 businesses, imagine the amount of land they use up every year.
     
  • The average business consumes 480,000 m3 of water/year – This equals 2 million, 400 thousand barrels of water! The sad thing is: more than 20% of that water is not needed.
     
  • The average business consumes 1,175,000 KWH/year – that's enough to power 65 average sized homes for a whole year! Now get this, businesses account for 40% of all energy consumption in a country.

It's also very important to note that your effort in maintaining eco-friendly business practices is a social obligation to your community- simply because businesses share their environment with other stakeholder groups.

2. Go Green to Reduce Waste & Decrease Costs

Suppose a business decides to go green, the first most obvious change noticed (and required) is a reduction in waste, which ultimately means a decrease in costs. The two combined result in the overall improvement of business efficiency.  How? Take the following examples:  turning off unneeded lights in your office is guaranteed to reduce your energy consumption, just as printing less paper or on both sides of the paper is guaranteed to cut down on your paper consumption. Also, refilling your ink cartilages instead of throwing them away and buying new ones will reduce the amount of plastic you throw away each year.  Actions like these basically mean you get to decrease your utility costs and even better, increase your company's bottom line.

Improving efficiency and lowering operating costs can pretty much save your business hundreds of thousands per year! While some cost reductions (like paper costs) can be seen instantly, others will be enjoyed in the long-term; this is in the example of installing energy saving lighting.

Generally speaking, some of the benefits green businesses enjoy include:

  • 15% reduction in paper consumption & costs.
  • 20% reduction in water consumption & costs.
  • 30% reduction in energy consumption & costs.

 Note that these percentages are average, and may decrease or increase depending on the level of each business's green efforts.

3. Go Green for Public Image & Increased Sales

A polished public image is a great free benefit of going green, and for many reasons. For starter, people love organizations that "care." Studies show that consumers are more attracted (and loyal) to companies that regard the environment. In the last decade, environmental issues moved from being under the shadows into an extremely serious topic, to the extent that consumers are no longer looking at "going green" as an added effort, but they actually demand it.

A natural effect of positive public image is guaranteed to increase sales. Studies have shown that companies with green initiatives, and better still – green products, have witnessed an increase in their profits.

Take Walmart and Target as an example. After incorporating green initiatives, including recycling, enhancing transportation to reduce gas, and increasing stocks of green products, they actually recorded a 20% increase in sales! 

Public image may not be the best motive for going green for many businesses, but the benefits coming with it are pretty attractive for any company.

4. Go Green for your Employees!

The why's of going green are not all external, for many companies internal reasons are far more important. Why? Well, look at it this way: just like you can't have a business if you don't have a planet to do it on, you CAN'T have a business if you don't have employees to run it for you! Your employees are actually one of the biggest stakeholders – many even consider them more important than clients. For that reason, smart companies try to provide the best working environment for their employees. And yes, that affects productivity.

So how does going green affect your employees? There are many aspects, but the major ones include providing a "healthy" atmosphere. For instance, indoor air quality (IAQ) is typically two to five times worse than the air outdoor; employees working in such unhealthy environment have been noted to suffer health issues such as headaches and asthma. On the other hand, research shows that companies with better IAQ show less absenteeism due to sickness and an increase in employee productivity. Other reasons include attracting and retaining talented employees. It's actually becoming quite common for employees – especially young professionals - to seek companies that are environmentally responsible. Not only that, but taking a green initiative is known to improve employee morale and loyalty; and what do you get when you have satisfied employees? You've only to look at Google to answer that question.

So there you have it, the most comprehensive four "Why go green?" reasons any business needs to know. Not all business owners realize the importance of applying eco-friendly practices, but we hope that the smart ones will.  

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Naqa'a Enterprise is an emerging social enterprise of young professionals committed to promoting the concept of environmental sustainability as an important value of every Saudi company. Their mission includes incorporating research, technology, and Islamic principles in providing environmental consultation to businesses in Saudi Arabia, to build an eco-friendly businesses sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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