Now that we’ve got MarketGreener rolling, I’d like to start off with a multi-part series about ways to help green your workplace. There are many ways to do this, and you may even already be doing some of them. Most of them aren’t too hard; they only take a little initiative and the process of learning some new habits. And best of all, most of them will easily save instead of cost money.
One initiative I helped start at Circumerro (the creative media company here in Jackson where I work) was to purge the place of the plastic water bottle. Not only were we buying a flat of 24 12 oz bottles of water every week, we also had a water dispenser in the kitchen that used 5+ gallon plastic bottles (at least those were refilled). The 12 oz bottles were offered to clients or anyone we met with in the conference room, and the water dispenser was used mostly by employees. Each has it’s own costs. The water bottles we’ll get to in a minute, but the most immediate cost of the water dispenser was that it was plugged in 24/7 so the few tea drinkers in the office could have hot water on demand. This feature was rarely used, but the hot water was there for you nonetheless. Aside from constantly drawing power, the immediate downside was that even the cold water was always luke warm. Yuck.
The plastic water bottles, in my mind, were a more immediate scourge to reckon with. Did you know it takes more water to produce the bottle than can actually go in it? According to this report on treehugger.com, a 1 liter plastic bottle requires 5 liters of water in the manufacturing process! That’s before any water even goes in it. In this particular case, according to Pablo Päster, we’re looking at bottles of Fiji bottled water, which are bottled in and with water from, you guessed it, Fiji. The bottles come from China (by boat) and then travel to the US (again by boat), but this time they’re filled with water so they’re much heavier. You can read the complete details here on triplepundit.com where Pablo goes on to compute the energy used before you even have your first sip (an accounting methodology also known as “embodied energy”). And we haven’t even yet considered the problem of recycling the bottles…
Now, it’s always a courtesy to offer your guests something to drink, and water is the easiest thing. It would be unthinkable—rude even—to not offer something to your visitor. But I knew there was a better, more hospitable way. Considering that America has the safest, most drinkable water right from the tap, there’s really no excuse to be buying bottled water in the first place. Our water is pretty darn good here in Jackson near Yellowstone and the headwaters of the Snake River, but admittedly, the water coming from the Town of Jackson isn’t the best. That said, it’s nothing that a Brita water filter can’t take care of.
So here was the solution that we set upon: we returned the water dispenser and its bottles to the distributor and stopped purchasing (and throwing away, er, recycling) 12 oz bottles of water. We purchased a Brita filter pitcher (though we weren’t influenced by it, you can take the pledge to stop using bottled water here) and some pint glasses, and now we have great water to drink with no more overhead than replacing filters every few months.
And perhaps the best part? Our clients recognized the effort we’d made and many respect us even more for it. So the lesson here: once you’ve made an environmentally conscious decision, don’t forget to tell your customers about what you’ve done. When you do that, you’ll have made a step toward becoming a green marketer.