The beginning of the new decade is a good time make a resolution for a more sustainable world. During the holidays we collectively generate mountains of waste. According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board and Recycle Works, the US alone purchases over 2.6 billion holiday cards each year. (enough to fill a football field 10 stories high). Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, Americans throw out an extra million tons of trash each week (a 25% increase). In addition, 38,000 miles of ribbon are discarded each year–enough to tie a bow around the Earth.
Powerful improvements can be made through relatively simple business innovations and consumer decisions. Each year, 50 million Christmas trees are purchased in the U.S. and about 30 million go to the landfill. During the average 15 year life span of a fake Christmas tree, a real tree user will put about 1/2 ton of waste into landfills. Fake trees are even more destructive to the environment as they are made with polyvinyl chloride (or PVC, otherwise known as vinyl), one of the most environmentally offensive forms of non-renewable, petroleum-derived plastic. Fake Christmas trees are also know to have several carcinogens, including dioxin, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride. Fake trees also contain lead and other additives that have been linked to liver, kidney, neurological and reproductive system damage.
The most eco-friendly way to enjoy a Christmas tree is to buy a live tree with its roots intact from a local grower. As reviewed in a recent New York Times article, Scott Martin, a landscape designer in California, has established a business that rents living Christmas trees to LA homes using biodiesel trucks. After the holidays, the trees are picked up and planted on industrial properties.
The beginning of the new year is a good time to make green resolutions. Here are several suggestions:
Inform yourself about sustainable business
Raise awareness about sustainable business
Lobby your legislators on behalf of the green economy
Get a green degree
Get a green job
Invest in sustainable stock
Start a sustainable business
Make your existing business more sustainable
Whatever you resolve to do, find a way to get involved in the green economy. As consumers we can resolve to make more informed, responsible buying decisions. As entrepreneurs and business owners, we can make our businesses more sustainable by resolving to adopt the triple bottom line of planet, people and profits.
Other green business resolutions include incorporating sustainable principles into your business decisions. Supplying environmentally friendly products or services that replace the demand for non green products or services. Being greener than traditional competition and making an enduring commitment to environmental principles. (for more specific information on sustainable business frameworks and guidelines see ISO14001).
You can also follow THE GREEN MARKET and get updated, topical information delivered to your inbox, as well as gain access to the wealth of resources and tools in the Green Link Library.
Whether you are a business owner, entrepreneur or consumer, everyone can make sustainable resolutions for 2010.
What Business Can Do to be More Green
The Green Job Market
Action on Climate Change
Investing for a Sustainable Recovery
Time to Invest in Green
Carrotmobs: Adding Incentives to the Consumer Arsenal
Consumers Demand Efficiency
College Environmental Degrees
CO2 Myths and the Science of Climate Change
The Effects of Global WarmingPrimer on CO2 and other GHGs
Helping Small Business Accept US Cap-and-Trade