Three Cost Misconceptions of “Going Green”
As sustainability continues to gain traction, an increasing number of businesses are considering moves toward “going green” and becoming more sustainable. However, for many companies, cost remains a roadblock. To help navigate the economics of sustainable solutions, Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc., exposes three common cost misconceptions and offers tips to maximize investments.
1. Myth: Sustainable products are expensive.
Reality: While this may have been an issue in the past, pricing of sustainable products has dropped significantly and now compares to traditional solutions. Companies are able to purchase products that are easy on the environment, such as environmentally preferable furniture, sustainable cleaners and remanufactured ink/toner, without breaking the bank.
2. Myth: Traditional supplies offer lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
Reality: Environmentally preferable products can actually be more durable, used for multiple purposes and applied for longer periods of time, making them a more cost-effective option in the long-term than traditional supplies.
• Sustainable cleaning products – Sustainable cleaning solutions can often be used for a number of purposes to deliver greater bang for your buck, including cleaning floors, desks and windows. These products are designed to be diluted, so companies don’t have to re-order inventory as frequently. Plus, environmentally preferable solutions are healthier to use, allowing you to potentially eliminate the cost of protective gear (e.g., rubber gloves and face masks), an expense typically associated with traditional chemicals made from more caustic ingredients.
• Focus on fabrics/finishes – Furnishings treated with environmentally preferable fabrics and finishes can help improve indoor air quality by eliminating off-gassing. This occurs when volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde, are released into the air. Eliminating harmful VOCs may help keep employees healthy and minimize healthcare costs. Moreover, low-emitting upholstery materials, such as formaldehyde-free finishes, vinyl and polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-free fabrics and bio-based and natural fibers, are often durable, scratch- and fade-resistant and easy to clean. These qualities help furnishings remain in top condition for longer periods of time.
• Technology tailoring – Certified products, ranging from computers and monitors to printers and copiers, use between 30 to 75 percent less electricity than standard equipment and can help keep energy costs down. In addition, consider donating lightly used electronics to local schools or charities to possibly qualify for a tax rebate.
3. Myth: The label said the product is “green,” so it must be!
Reality: Beware of “green washing.” As the notion of sustainability continues to evolve and become more holistic, it is becoming increasingly important that companies consider more than just a product’s makeup. They should also take into account the product’s entire lifecycle, from manufacturing and packaging to shipping and distribution. Be sure to consider the following key questions when examining a manufacturer’s production and distribution methods:
• Does the company use renewable sources of energy to power operations?
• Do they use electric vehicles for deliveries?
• Do they minimize plastics and other harmful materials in product packaging?
• Do they help customers consolidate orders to avoid multiple shipments and ensure customers are getting products from the closest distribution center? This can reduce packaging waste and carbon dioxide emissions from fewer truck deliveries.
• Is their equipment ENERGY STAR® certified? Do they adhere to third-party environmental certifications and standards, such as LEED or FSC?