Can Business and Environmentalism Co-Exist Peacefully?

Recently, I was eating a wonderful meal in Longview, Texas, at one of my favorite deli’s, Jason’s deli. The stores are always exceptionally clean, the food selection is outstanding, the freshness is top notch, and the salad bar is the *best* in my opinion. Everything at this deli is free of artificial trans fats and is free of MSG. The flavor of EVERYTHING is simply outstanding and their prices are ridiculously low for the value you receive.

While I was enjoying the salad bar with a bowl of tomato basil soup, my eye was drawn to a table top card entitled “Care To Conserve.” Jason’s deli has enacted several measures and initiatives in an attempt to reduce their energy consumption and, according to the company, “incorporating even the smallest sustainable measures helps the world we share. It’s a journey and this is where we are, so far:”

  • To go cups and packaging are all foam free.
  • Jason’s deli supports organic farming and uses organic products wherever they’re available.
  • Sponsor American Forest’s Global Re-Leaf program by planting thousands of trees in the South Texas Wildlife Refuge.
  • In the process of developing multiple locations that will be run primarily on solar power.
  • Every deli that’s within a deregulated area buys energy from providers that use some form of alternative energy.
  • To Go plates/forks/napkins are only available upon request.
  • New deli construction includes fluorescent lighting, motion detecting restroom lighting, water saving toilets, and solar powered faucets.
  • Jason’s deli participates in available recycling programs (paper products are preferred).
  • Conference calls and webinars have replaced many flights and travel for meetings.
  • Employees are trained in ongoing education programs on organics, sustainable agriculture, conservation, environmental protection, and social responsibility.
  • “We Care To Conserve” ideas are encouraged at every level of the company.

What does all this mean to for their business? Admittedly, “green” marketing efforts can produce profits in the black, but when a company takes the time to thoroughly think through its processes, from construction to daily operations, it can find ways to reduce expenses AND help keep our environment clean.

Replacing corporate travel with conference calls and webinars saves tens of thousands of dollars. One flight can cost over $1,500 and when you add the hotel and rental car costs and you run into some serious money. Plates, forks, and napkins also have a cost. It isn’t very much on a per unit basis, but why just give them away when the vast majority are never used and end up in the trash? Using solar energy to power the faucets, and even the entire deli is a great idea. I know from experience that a store of that size probably has a $4,000 to $7,000 utility bill. Reducing it to zero, even if it costs $500,000 will generate long term returns. Motion sensing restroom lighting makes sure that energy is used only when it’s needed. That has a huge cost savings. All of these ideas and initiatives are entirely compatible with the goals of business AND environmentalists.

If businesses like Jason’s deli (and even Starbucks) can stop looking at environmentalists as “on the fringe” and environmentalists can stop looking at business people as “robber barons of resources,” if business can start looking at environmental goals as achievable while still making a healthy profit and environmentalists can admit that capitalism will help them reach their goals….we might be able to make some progress on both fronts.

[tags]green, environmentalism, environment, environmental, business, conserve, organic, lighting, deli[/tags]

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