This post was written by Kate L. Harrison, author of the best-selling green wedding book The Green Bride Guide: How to Plan an Earth-friendly Wedding on Any Budget, and founder of the premier green wedding resource: GreenBrideGuide.com.
With so many Wedding Professionals to choose from, it has never been more important to differentiate yourself from the competition! According to David’s Bridal, almost 70% of brides today are looking to include eco-friendly elements in their events. Green brides spend 27% more on their weddings than the average bride, so being green-friendly is a great way to get attention of these couples, and ultimately earn more— while doing something good for the planet.
Green brides are actively seeking to support companies that integrate sustainable practices into their day-to-day business practices, meeting the needs of their profession without compromising the needs of future generations. Before you reach out to eco-conscious clients, it is important to take a step back and green your own operations.
The following are some simple steps you can take today to save money, gain credibility as an eco-conscious professional, and decrease your footprint on the planet:
- Switch to post-consumer waste (PCW) paper, paper products, and packaging. Whenever possible, skip paper entirely, but if you have to print, make sure you are using eco-friendly paper. Only PCW (post consumer waste) paper is made entirely from the paper we place in our recycling bins each day. Making PCW recycled paper uses 45% less energy and creates half the waste of the traditional papermaking process. Purchasing products labeled “100% PCW” ensures you are using papers with the least impact. If 100% is not available, look for options with as much PCW content as possible, and don’t forget to recycle all your company’s paper scraps instead of sending them to the landfill.
- Use biodegradable cleaners. Using natural, biodegradable cleaning products reduces your exposure to harsh toxins and other chemicals, and reduces the introduction of these substances into the environment. The next time you run out of soap, shampoo or laundry detergent, swap in a greener option. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database is an amazing resource for finding non-toxic options for every part of your personal routine, and for your office washroom and kitchen too.
- Use compact-fluorescent (CFL) or LED lights. Though CFL and LED lights both have a higher purchase price than standard incandescent bulbs, they last significantly longer and use much less energy. This calculator is a great way to see how quickly simply changing out your bulbs can add up!
- Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels to help you assess their energy (and cash) requirements over time. Look for the yellow tags when you buy your next appliance, and splurge up front for the long-term economic and environmental savings.
- Get an energy audit and make simple changes around your office and house. According to the Department of Energy, sealing leaks and cracks in your home and office can cut up to 20% off the cost of your heating and cooling bills. Many states will perform free energy audits, and will pay for some or all of the repairs! (Hint: Google free energy audit and the name of your state for leads)
- Buy carbon offsets for company travel and shipping. Car and air travel create greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. When these activities cannot be reduced, purchasing carbon offsets helps mitigate their environmental impact. Carbon offset purchases fund various types of greenhouse gas emission reduction projects, such as alternative energy creation and reforestation. You can offset your energy use for one year through the Carbon Farmer for just $75.
- Power your office with alternative energy. In many areas of the country you can sign up to purchase “green power” from your current utility provider. Green power is generated from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, geothermal, hydropower and plant matter. Purchasing green power increases your electric bill by a small percentage, which is used to purchase clean energy that is fed into the electrical grid. To see if this is possible in your state visit ‘Is my business in the Green Power Network?‘
- Use public transportation, drive an alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles, or bike to work. Any of these three methods of transportation will reduce the carbon footprint of your business and highlight your environmental commitment. All will also save you money over time.
- Recycle outside the box. In addition to recycling everything that can be recycled, think green when buying or replacing items. Consider purchasing used or vintage office furniture instead of brand new pieces. You can find great deals on barely used office furniture on eBay and Craigslist, and make a statement to your prospective clients about your values at the same time.
- Utilize green web hosting. Green web hosts are companies that take part in a variety of activities, such as using renewable energy, planting trees, or buying carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates to reduce or mitigate the environmental cost of running their servers and infrastructure. Most green server companies charge the same or less than companies running servers using fossil fuels.
By following the simple tips above you can cut thousands of dollars off your bills and make yourself more attractive to eco-conscious couples. No matter which of these steps you have taken, make sure to tell brides about what you are doing. Create an environmental mission statement or green practices section on your website, and be sure to include any badges or certificates you earn for being green on your website!