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Businesses that Increase ‘Eco-Cred’ Will See Green
Published Friday, July 27, 2012

Several studies confirm what many business owners already know: A large majority of consumers prefer to patronize companies with sustainable products and practices. But what does that mean for businesses that don’t necessarily consider themselves green?  It means they can be green, too, and the Green Alliance in Portsmouth can help.

About 68 percent of consumers can be classified as “light greens,” those who show preference toward environmental, ethical products and services, according to the market research firm Mintel. What’s more, according to a 2012 Cohn & Wolfe study, one in five consumers will even spend a 10 percent premium on a green product.

“The reasons to increase your brand’s 'eco-cred' are obvious. It is the right thing to do, will attract new consumers, increase brand loyalty with existing customers and even attract better employees, ,” says Albe Zakes, global vice president for media relations at TerraCycle, one of the fastest-growing green companies in the world. He notes that in a MonsterTRAK study, 92 percent of young professionals are more inclined to work for an environmentally friendly company.

Most companies, however, are not innovators in recycling like TerraCycle. If your products or services are not environmentally responsible by nature, how can you increase your brand’s sustainability messaging? If you are a service provider, look to use environmentally responsible products, such as organic fertilizers, nontoxic cleaners or energy-efficient appliances. Providing more recycling options, going on eco-themed retreats, purchasing renewable energy and using sustainable items around the office are all easy ways to make your office greener.

Coughlin, Rainboth, Murphy & Lown, a Portsmouth law firm engaged in all manner of civil litigation, is the first and only law firm to become a business partner of Green Alliance, a local green business union that certifies its member businesses green and advocates greener choices to the public. The law firm conducts many sustainable practices.

For example, it recycles all its paper, of which it produces much, and also scans more documents to reduce paper and number of stored files. The firm recycles all its cans, glass bottles and water bottles. It has thoroughly insulated its 1860 building to reduce energy use and has installed springs on its faucets to limit water use. It also donates money to Cool Earth, Green Planet to purchase energy efficient air conditioners for the needy elderly.

“We want the public to think of us as young, progressive, socially conscious lawyers who care about the environment and the ‘big picture’ — our place in the world and the universe,” said law partner Brad Lown, who rides his bicycle to work at least three times a week. “We want to be part of a network of people and businesses that care about the same things. We do these things because they are responsible, moral, sustainable, ethical and forward thinking.  We realize we need to do more, and we aspire to.”

Besides the beneficiary of a growing consumer preference, Seacoast-area firms see a benefit to belonging to an organization such as Green Alliance. CNN recently reported the national "failure rate" for small businesses in 2011 was almost 40 percent. Business partners of Green Alliance have a failure rate of between 3 and 5 percent, indicating that the organization’s ability to bring green consumers and sellers together in one, green marketplace can pay some real dividends.

Through Green Alliance’s unique program, partnering businesses — their products, services, and green initiatives — are touted to the public through means both traditional (newspapers, magazines, and radio) and 21st century (Facebook, Twitter, and myriad online blogs).

All types of businesses can join Green Alliance by adopting practices that Coughlin, Rainboth, Murphy & Lown has adopted— or figure out policies specific to their businesses. Dentists can dispense toothbrushes made from recycled yogurt cups. Salons can create an environment that is safer, using non-toxic and biodegradable hair care products.

Any company can paint its walls with a 0 percent VOC (volatile organic compounds). Floors can be covered with the natural linoleum made from linseed oil with jute baking, light bulbs can be compact florescent, and insulation can be recycled denim. Dry walls can be non-toxic, built with sustainable building materials. Brochures and business cards can be printed with soy ink on 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper.

There are myriad ways to become more green. And Green Alliance exists to help businesses achieve that goal while also letting consumers know that its business partners are responsible stewards of the planet.

For more information about Coughlin, Rainboth, Murphy & Lown, visit www.nhtrialattorneys.com, and for more information about Green Alliance, visit www.greenalliance.biz.

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