In today's business climate, if a company has not implemented eco-friendly, sustainable, "green" practices, it is in denial. Just look around. Big companies including Bank of America, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Honda and Continental Airlines support and implement sustainable initiatives and save money in the process.
In our city, many companies know we can do well for ourselves and each other while also doing great things for the environment. That is why more than 50 businesses have joined Green Biz Wichita, an organization founded in January to protect our personal and professional environment.
The organization's goal is to raise awareness in ways that help our city become less dependent on fossil fuels that burn, pollute and stress out our air, water and soil.
As co-founder of Green Biz Wichita, I invite every business in town to join us. Our organization strives to educate employees, form sustainable partnerships, advocate for green initiatives and recognize local businesses that reduce the environmental impact of their operations, all while enhancing overall business performance.
Green in action
What a local business can gain from going green can be translated into cost savings. At Kennedy and Coe, we have made specific commitments internally with our Green Teams.
In each of our eight office locations we appoint a "champion" to give a voice to the overall team effort. Our Green Teams have communicated 250 ideas on ways to save our office costs and the environment.
Americans annually use more than 80 billion aluminum soda cans. Recycling one aluminum can save enough energy to run a television for three hours — or the equivalent of one-half gallon of gasoline. We recycle every single can used by our employees.
We also recycle newspaper, paper products, magazines and toner cartridges. Every ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 7,000 gallons of water. This represents a 64 percent energy savings, a 58 percent water savings and 60 pounds less of air pollution. Think about what these numbers could do for your monthly electricity and water bills.
Each month, consumers throw out enough glass bottles and jars to fill up a giant skyscraper. All of these jars are recyclable. Waste Connections, a member of Green Biz Wichita, says one of the most important items to recycle is glass. The same glass bottle thrown in the trash today will be there 4,000 years from now. If one of our employees makes the extra effort to toss their glass bottle into a recycling bin, where it can later be sorted, crushed and processed into fine powder, they are saving enough energy to run a compact fluorescent bulb for 20 hours.
Another Earth-saver is energy-efficient lighting. At our Wichita office we use compact fluorescent light bulbs. Replacing just one incandescent light bulb can save up to $30 over the life of the bulb. In addition, they last 10 times longer and generate 70 percent less heat, so they also reduce energy associated with cooling our offices.
Many of our staff drive energy-efficient hybrid and high MPG cars. Some even ride their bicycles to work. During our client meetings, we use teleconferencing to save energy costs associated with travel; use projectors, rather than paper handouts, for presentations; send out an electronic newsletter and e-file client taxes; and send tax returns on CDs, again to decrease the amount of paper used.
Green Biz Wichita invites every business owner, manager and employee in the city to attend our first social event, Member Mingle, on Tuesday. Come to Scholfield Honda's Green Zone building, 7017 E. Kellogg Ave., from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. where we'll serve appetizers and offer tips on how some of our local companies have become sustainable in the workplace.
For more information, go to greenbizwichita.org.