How Green Is Your Business?

I hate hippies.  I lived in California for about 6 years and not a day went by when there wasn't some random print, news, or radio story related to the hippies and the environment.  Everyday it was, "corporations are evil," "save Mother Earth," and "plants are people!"  The common derogatory term used to describe this grassroots social subculture in the 'States is "tree-hunger," but I would never use such vitriol language to describe any group.

For all their chants, protests and marches to save the environment, they did have one thing right, corporations have significantly harmed the environment through the incredible amount of printing used to operate their businesses.  Printing represents one of the largest industries in the world, but it also represents one of the top ten destructive forces to our environment.  Here are some facts from the Earthwatch Institute:

• Normal litho printing wastes a huge amount of water (thousands of litres a day). Waterless printing is the 'green' alternative, however only about 30 printers out of 3,000 in the UK currently offer it.
• Chemicals - in normal litho printing a lot of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in mineral-oil inks and in chemicals used to clean the presses etc. VOCs contribute to loss of the ozone layer.
• Paper use - many organisations now use recycled paper or paper which uses pulp from sustainably managed forests. However in terms of environmental impacts, this is only a minor part of the problem

Upon analyzing the end-to-end impact of printing from a physical, ecological, and chemical perspective, it is quite easy to see that it is more than just saving the rainforests and trees.  Water and chemical pollution is an increasing problem in many of the world's developing countries.  As the world begins to compete with the likes or India and China, much of the western workforce will see first hand how environmental degradation will affect them and their families when people start emigrating for jobs.  This is in stark contrast to the last twenty years where people worked in their country and off-shored to other countries for menial work. 

Corporations and academic institutions play a critical role in driving environmental change.  They probably are also the only two institutions that are resilient enough to remain competitive while completely changing the way they operate.  Organizations, now, have a crucial opportunity to not only change the way they work for their own betterment, but to also significantly change and influence the communities that they engage with...all while saving a lot of money the Earth.  OneNote teamed with SharePoint can help your organization be part of a cultural revolution, the "Green" revolution.  And maybe, just maybe, we can finally get rid of all these hippies.  *Hippies in suits?*hippy in suit


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