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Why and How to Green Your Business
April 1, 2009

Earth Day is April 22, a day to remember and honor the environment. This year is the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day. It's a good time to think about how to green your business not only to help the environment, but also to save money on utility costs and improve your company's visibility.

Energy savings

The federal government provides information about how you can adopt green practices in your business to help the environment and save money. There are also links to sites for finding grants and loans that you can use for adopting green practices or pursuing green technology development.

You can also find ideas that you can implement at GreenBiz.com.

If you own your building, consider taking the EnergyStar Challenge to improve energy efficiency by 10% or more. Also calculate your office's carbon footprint.

Note: If you own your building or are a landlord of commercial space and achieve certain energy standards, you can qualify for a federal tax deduction of $1.80 per square foot (60 per square foot for more modest energy efficiency). Details about this deduction can be found at the IRS Web site.

Marketing opportunities

Being green is something you can use in your marketing efforts. Many customers appreciate this factor and take into consideration in making purchasing decisions. You don't have to be in a particular industry or business to be "green." You don't have to sell environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies; using them in your dry-cleaning business is a way to be green.

However, beware of "greenwashing" (claiming to be green when you aren't).  It's unlawful to make false or misleading marketing claims that suggest a product is more environmentally friendly than it really is. As with any marketing effort, you need proof of your claims. Because green marketing has exploded and many examples of bogus promotions have been found, the FTC may issue special guidelines for green marketing, but these may not be formalized until later in 2009. If you have a green product, let the public know you're for real by using certification from independent authorities such as:

Other moves

Download a free font that uses less printer ink (works best with size 9 or 10 font) from Ecofont.

Recycle old cell phones with GreenPhone.

More info

Read the State of Green Business 2009 by Joel Makower and the editors of GreenBiz.com, which you can download for free. The report found optimism in new technologies to help the environment. However, it noted the growing problem of e-waste.

Find out more about Earth Day. An event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day is being held at the National Mall in Washington, DC on April 19.


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