Sustainability for Everyone

Smash the Solar Panel Study and Rip up the Recycled Carpet Plans – Replace Your Paper Cups Instead

Sustainability can mean different things to different people.  What some people think of when they hear the word “sustainability” is going “green” or saving the planet.  But when you dig into what the big deal is, you find out it isn’t just about saving the planet.  It’s about saving money and improving your business.

The primary goal of a properly implemented sustainability plan is to save money by becoming more efficient and reducing waste.   Identifying these money saving ideas can be difficult though, because business owners may not have the tools to look at all aspects of their business this way.  For example in a manufacturing company, management has identified the most efficient way to make their product by studying variances, bottlenecks, reducing scrap rates, etc.  But why not apply the same principles to other areas of the business?

One method of this “outside the box” analysis that is gaining popularity is creating a sustainability related report.  Various reporting standards exist for creating a sustainability report, but the most heavily adopted standards are the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).  Going through the process of analyzing your business using GRI standards to create a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report gives business owners a different way of looking at their businesses.   In 2010, over 1,800 companies created a GRI-based CSR report.  Even more have taken the principles of those reporting methods and incorporated them into how management analyzes their business.   Creating these reports helped those businesses identify areas where waste could be reduced and significant cost savings could be realized.

Lube Stop, a local Northeast Ohio business, has embraced sustainability as a cost saving method.  Some examples of their energy saving ideas from their Sustainability Reports (which are available to the public through their website) include: (1) installing programmable thermostats in their locations to reduce energy use outside of business hours, (2) giving heavy winter coats to employees working in the oil change facilities so the heat could be turned down, (3) reducing energy use by having supplies drop shipped directly to their locations instead of distributing from a main warehouse has reduced warehouse overhead costs and inventory costs, (4) using direct deposit as the only paycheck option has reduced the cost of generating paper checks and delivering those checks to their locations multiple times a month.  The list goes on and on.  Looking for ways to save energy and reduce their carbon footprint has resulted in numerous ideas that will increase the bottom line in the short- and long-term.

Here is an easy way to add a simple sustainability analysis technique to your business.  Take a look in your trash cans.  What is in them?  How can you keep what is in them out of them?  Let’s say you see a lot of paper cups.  Stop buying them and get everyone a coffee mug. 

Make more money by being efficient in all aspects of your business.  Kermit was a liar.  It is easy being green.

If you have any questions concerning sustainability, please contact Carlin Culbertson ( or John Nicklas ( at (216) 241-3272.