A spotlight on green design

A friend of mine, Scott Belsky, runs a great company called Behance, which designs products and services for the creative community.  One of their products is the Behance Network, which is a social network for creative professionals.  It’s a great place where people share their work, look for gigs, and search for talent.

Last week, they posted an article on green design and the members of the Network that are leading the charge in their various industries to make products that are more sustainable.  As the article states, “The goals of sustainable design are to avoid using non-renewable resources, lessen our environmental footprint, and bring people closer to the environment in which they live. Many designers are heading down the ‘greener path to design’ including architects and interior, industrial, graphic, fashion and urban designers.”

Some of the designers have made sustainable packaging for new CDs, and others have made solar-powered buckets that when left outside in the sun can become a source of light at night (see image above).

What’s important is that product designers are out there, looking to come up with interesting ideas for new items that can help us live more sustainable lives and leave less of a footprint on this planet, while still being aesthetically pleasing.  My research has shown that although people want to buy “green” products, they don’t want to have to sacrifice quality in order to do so.  They are willing to pay more for them as well.  Savvy green marketers will hire people like the ones featured on this network to help them come up with new products to help them send a values-laden message to their customers and generate higher profits at the same time.

Please click here to read the full article.

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Newsweek: Green really means business

I had the chance to read an excellent essay in the 9/22/08 issue of Newsweek, by Zachary Karabell of RiverTwice Research, which I strongly recommend.  The main message of the article is that in an era of high energy costs, a company that has sustainable business practices will likely be able to save money and reap positive financial returns as a result.

Karabell writes that “sharply higher prices for oil and raw materials” have made “reductions in energy use economically viable and strategically important in a way that no amount of green activism ever could.”  He continues by discussing Wal-Mart’s efforts to “green” its supply chain: “To maintain its razor-thin margins at a time of record oil prices, which are raising the cost of importing goods from China, Wal-Mart has radically altered how its products are made and how they’re transported. One example: making detergent more concentrated, which leads Wal-Mart suppliers to use smaller plastic containers, which in turn use less petroleum to manufacture those containers, which can then be shipped with more containers in each carton, which leads to less cardboard, which makes it possible to transport more units on each ship or truck, which then reduces the amount of gas used to get those units from the factory to Wal-Mart outlets. The result: Wal-Mart maintains margins and reduces its resource consumption as well as that of its suppliers.”

Karabell also goes on to mention other profit-driven reasons for companies’ sustainability efforts: international regulatory rules as well as studies showing that companies that receive high environmental marks have shown above-average return on investment and stock price performance.

I have frequently written about the importance of green business practices, not only because they are the right thing to do but also because they help the bottom line.
Whatever the reason, the fact that companies like Wal-Mart, Du Pont and Google, to name a few, are all investing heavily in making their businesses less resource intensive, and therefore more profitable, is a great step.  Our national government has not done enough to create incentives for companies and individuals to invest now to save resources and money in the long run, so it is incumbent on the business community to take the initiative.

Relative to my business, Grossman Marketing Group, we strongly urge our clients to not only operate their core businesses responsibly, but also to make the effort to bring that message of sustainability to their constituents through their marketing and communications campaigns.  Whether it’s a piece of direct mail or a giveaway at a tradeshow, by leveraging environmentally-friendly materials, and clearly communicating what they have done to make their pieces less resource-intensive and the savings derived by doing so, they will send a values-laden message to their core customers and donors that will help reinforce their brand and build relationships for the long term.

Here’s a link to the full Newsweek article.

Best practices in green printing: quantifying the benefits of going green – part 2

I frequently encourage clients as well as readers of my blog to be transparent about the environmental savings derived from “going green” with their marketing and communications.

My firm works with the Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters (MLEV), whose mission is to advocate for sound environmental policies and to elect pro-environmental candidates who will adopt and implement such policies.   They are the state affiliate of the League of Conservation Voters.

MLEV publishes an annual Environmental Scorecard, which serves as a guide to how Massachusetts legislators voted on key environmental issues during the past legislative session (2007-2008).  On page 2 of the attached PDF, MLEV quantifies the environmental savings from having produced their piece using responsible materials, based on calculations from the Environmental Defense Paper Calculator.

In addition, MLEV included several clean and recgonizable eco-logos on the back of the scorecard, underneath their return address on the mail panel.

These two transparent approaches (specific savings calculated and described inside as well as easy-to-understand labels on the outside) serve as a best practice for anyone in the marketing communications space.

Please click here to view a PDF of the scorecard.