Four ways to wipe out “green fatigue”

28 06 2008

A Green Printer dispatch.

You’ve started a green team and seven weeks later, your once ecstatic committee of cubicle warriors by day, green champions by night (a.k.a your green employees) begin to dwindle in numbers. Even the most eager employees look like they would prefer to be idling in traffic than be here listening to your green pitch.

Preston Koerner wrote a valuable article in Green Biz on how to prevent “green fatigue” and separate it from the “green noise” amongst customers in response to a recent commentary on eco-overload in the New York Times.

As Williams points out, fatigue, confusion and contradiction amongst customers is vivid in today’s advertising landscape. Canada’s Competition Bureau has even announced a crackdown on environmental claims in advertising and labelling. But, how can a leader stop green fatigue from stymieing the ongoing efforts of its staff? Here are the five S’s to keep sustainability flourishing from the inside out:

1. Shake things up

How can use of the hot-button, resource intensive “tools” at the office – like paper, packaging, energy and vehicles – lend themselves to more creative solutions? Here’s a few ideas to get the juices flowing:

Carpool Day
If you have a large enough green team with staff that commute from the suburbs:
i. Have staff write down their name and their neighbourhood on a piece of paper.
ii. Match up names into boxes according to neighborhoods;
iii. Do a weekly draw to see who carpools with whom and;
iv. Voila! Instant conversation between the Accountant and the Maketer, not to mention C02-reduced commuting.

Green intrapreneurs
Google allows its engineers to spend 20% of their working time on projects that they are passionate about. This has allowed employees to produce Google Suggest, AdSense for Content and Orkut. While 20% may not be feasible for some companies, try for 5% to start. It boosts employee moral, provides a sense of ownership and may just help create a recycling system that helps the whole company make green while going green.

2. Show honesty
Just when you have a product that has both positive and negative environmental attributes and you’re working to improve the negative attributes, you want to be upfront to employees about that office kitchen composting initiative that went south.

Say it like it is, find out why an initiative failed to get off the ground or just plain stunk (no pun intended), have a laugh and move on.

3. Scintillating conversation
Bring in a green speaker. It doesn’t need to be someone from Speaker’s. Call up the unlikely green heros you read about in your community paper that morning. I’m sure they would be thrilled to come and talk about how they donated solar paneled, hand-cranked internet-enabled $100 laptops to children in developing countries.

4. Step down
Finally, sometimes an idea deserves to die, if only momentarily. Let it. Sometimes, it’s time to delegate the green champion to best successor in your committee. Let go, if only to see your green team revive itself with new energy.

As echoed by Arthur D. Little: regulation, rising energy costs and increased consumer pressure on businesses are driving corporations to chose sustainable buying – and indeed, many start from a humble “green team” – to lower costs and build more valuable business practices.

Print green. Save a tree. And, look good while you’re at it. Learn how many trees, C02 emissions and waste water you can saving using Green Printer’s Eco-Calculator – with sources from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


News byte: Why should we care about keeping our forests or more specifically, our rainforests anyway? What it costs says it well:

“Tropical rainforests help cool the planet by absorbing vast amounts of carbon dioxide and producing clouds that reflect sunlight and heat away from the earth. Experts say that between 25 and 30% of the world’s GHG emissions are the result of deforestation. The World Bank reports that 85% of Indonesia’s 3,014 million tons of CO2e emissions are caused by fires and deforestation, making it the third worst offender in the world for GHG emissions (behind China and the United States).”



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