It’s Not Easy Being (Strategically) Green

By Beacon Staff

Ahh, Kermit the Frog. You were wise beyond your years when you said, “It’s not easy being green.”

It isn’t even easy talking about green, but we’re going to do it anyhow.

Everywhere you turn, people talk about being green and going green. Quite often, it results in a number of people seeing red.

Some talk about going green as if it were some sort of plague. Are they the same sort who would chastise me for leaving the light on in the bathroom? Maybe.

Turning the light off when you leave a room is, “being green.”

But I know…Our grandparents didn’t call it “being green.” They were simply taught to not be wasteful and if your grandmother was anything like mine (yeah, I miss her), she was nothing if not frugal.

Anyone who has spent any time at all on a farm knows that everything possible gets recycled, reused, re-purposed and more than likely – gets used yet again. Grandma was from a typical farm family. There were 13 kids (built-in farm hands).

But it isn’t just about grandma. Over 240 years ago, someone muttered, “Waste not, want not.” That quote is listed as a proverb traced to 1772, not attributed to anyone specific. Even Benjamin Franklin got into the green game, being quoted saying, “All things are cheap to the saving, dear to the wasteful.”

Scouts have been saying “…thrifty” as part of the Scout Law for decades. Must be a good idea, right?

So why all the bluster from coast to coast about it? Most likely because it’s seen through a jaundiced political lens, rather than strategically. Few would bat an eye about improving the bottom line.

So what’s the big deal? It’s that word. Green.

Some of the best tightwads (that’s a compliment) I know simply hate the term, despite being highly skilled at making things happen without pouring money down a hole.

Maybe we need to use words that share meaning with “green,” so here goes: More profit. Less waste, which is particularly important if you’re paying for raw materials (just ask CFAC). More productive. Faster. Lighter. More compact. Cheaper. Durable. More efficient.

Go ahead, Mister Feisty, turn those words into political talking points. Dare ya.

All we’re talking about is saving money while delivering the same quantity of a quality product or service. It isn’t rocket science and it isn’t political. It’s smart business and you’re a fool if you let someone politicize it.

Consider the taillights on a semi-truck. Replace them with LEDs. Sure, they’re more expensive, but they’re supposed to last “forever.”

Remove the expense of tickets for burned out taillight bulbs and mechanic time replacing taillight assemblies. That’s time that a company mechanic could be doing something far more profitable to the company, which can make the mechanic’s job more secure.

Why? Because “real” work is getting done rather than the kind of stuff that anyone could do (perhaps even the guy sitting here typing this column).

Green is about more than political crapola and talking (arguing) points. It’s about jobs and money.

Seems to me that it’s a whole lot smarter to do it on your own and strengthen your business now, rather than sitting around grumbling and waiting until some yahoo in Washington or Helena figures out how to force you into it. You know that won’t save you money.

Oh wait, don’t forget your clients. What can do you to save them a few bucks on shipping, fuel, energy or raw materials?

Last but not least, I’d like to share a TED video with you that fits today’s conversation in an interesting manner. Some of you might even find it amusing.

The video features a guy named John Gerzema, whose company has been studying the behavior of the “post-crisis consumer”, as well as that of big business. It’s amusing because much of the, “new, post-crisis consumer behavior” he talks about is stuff that happens in Montana day in, day out and has for decades. Still, there’s some value there for business owners who need a kick in the backside regarding their customer service (at the very least) and it might just identify some opportunity for you.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.

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