There is no doubt that 2010 was a difficult year for the economy, yet the hope for the coming year is high. And for good reason — Many leading U.S. economists predict that the economy will grow an astounding two to four percent in 2011. This is welcome news after two years of a painful recession.
What can businesses do to prepare?
What can executives, entrepreneurs and webmasters set in place so as to benefit from the projected economical growth of 2011? As economists begin to try and answer this question, we must first look at the possible trends and business motives that grasp the world economy. A common theme within the economy that has shown increased popularity is green technologies, products and services.
Why go green?
Because by “going green” we are protecting the environment. But an added benefit is that by going green, businesses are seeing long-term business growth and opportunity.
There are few segments of the financial system today that have shown continued growth during what economists call the “great recession”. One thing is clear; the trend toward green technology is not fading. Every economic region has seen significant growth in the eco-friendly industry and companies are aware of the growing trend toward green-technologies. It is apparent that the green power movement shows no sign of decline. Indeed, the green movement continues to grow, despite the contraction in the economy since 2008. Green technology is one segment of the world-economy which has shown steady growth during the recent difficult economic times.
Green Trends and Predictions for 2011
This can serve as a guide for businesses as a place to prepare for green trends that will continue throughout the coming year.
1. Energy and Air Emissions
Many industries around the world are faced with two primary energy challenges: how to efficiently provide clean, secure and affordable energy and how to minimize the impact on the environment.
Two major power-hungry segments of the economy include:
- Airline industry
- Data center industry
Traditionally, these energy hogs utilized the most energy of any other industry in the United States and generated the largest carbon footprint. Business owners are looking for options within these industries that are more eco-friendly with a reduction in carbon emissions.
What to do?
Many companies that utilize a great deal of travel are looking for ways to not only minimize their carbon footprint, but also reduce their expenses. Companies are deploying various means of eco-friendly business models so as to reduce the amount of air-travel they utilize. And, in order to reduce the demand for power-hungry data centers, web masters, site designers and businesses are moving their web sites to green web hosting, which provides more efficiency and uses less energy than hosting in traditional data centers.
- Telecommuting is becoming more popular among businesses with the use of VOIP services such asPress8 telecom. With the Press8 Hosted phone systems, companies are able to offer their employees the option of telecommuting — an attractive option because of high gas prices, nightly traffic jams and long commutes. Press8 phone systems offer methods to ensure employees working at home or from a remote office location are making productive use of their time.
- Green web hosting among businesses is becoming more popular because it presents a clear solution for a reduction in the utilization of traditional, power-hungry data centers. Many webmasters are moving their web sites to companies that utilize green data centers. A word of caution: many so called “green web hosting” companies are merely web hosts that purchase Renewable Energy Credits (REC’s) and then these companies market their services to the Internet community as “green”. In order to be a “true” green web hosting provider, the web host must utilize a “green data center”. GreenHostIt, an Austin, Texas web hosting firm, offers green web hosting for personal and business web sites and hosts its servers in a “true” green data center.
2. Water and Wastewater
As part of a progressive replacement program, companies will continue to develop and install innovative water-saving technology and procedures. The challenge is to implement conservation measures to reduce water consumption, and thus the “water footprint” a company generates. Many strong industries within the economy are moving toward improving their wastewater treatment facilities. The investment is high but the payoff is significant.
What to do?
Companies can explore the option of updating their wastewater facilities. And those companies that do not have the resources for a large infusion of cash to update these facilities might consider outsourcing to treatment facilities that already have this technology in place. Many companies are implementing reverse osmosis systems which operate by pumping water under very high pressure through a semi-permeable membrane. Today’s systems provide the same amount of water for only about 35 percent of the electricity consumption.
3. LED Lighting
Commercial, Residential, Marine, and Solar — each of these industries is seeing strong movement towards “advanced lighting”. By upgrading lighting, these industries are recognizing substantial savings through alternative energy and efficient lighting. A leader in this industry is NeuTex Lighting and through their comprehensive catalog of advanced lighting products, companies and individuals are able to capitalize on significant savings in energy expenses by “going green”.
What to do?
Before building a new house, commercial building, marine operation or solar configuration, consider speaking to your local city government about green building practices.
- Neutex Lighting is a good source of information and their web site describes the ever increasing group of ways that companies and individuals can be less wasteful.
- GreeningDetroit.com offers a unique directory designed to provide building solutions, products and services, green news and environmental responsibility options.
4. Eco-friendly automobiles
Trends in the automobile industry show strong growth in hybrid and fuel-efficient diesel engines. New product development with these types of engines is accelerating. Fuel-hogs such as large SUV’s and vans are harder to re-sell and more expensive to maintain at the fuel pumps.
What to do?
Before purchasing your next automobile, consider a hybrid or diesel powered engine. The up-front cost is higher, but long-term savings in terms of fuel and overall maintenance is significant.
4. Reduction in waste
Consumers have taken notice and appreciate companies that produce products packaged in eco-friendly materials.
What to do?
Reduce, reuse, and recycle. The first step in managing waste is to reduce the amount of material used. To further cut back waste generation, companies can work with suppliers on container return programs. By recycling trash, companies are diligently working to decrease the amount of waste generated. Companies world-wide are showing signs of more often utilizing alternatives to packaging their products in materials that are harmful to the environment — specifically plastics. Consumers notice and show their appreciation with their wallets.
These companies are examples of cutting-edge corporations that are “going green” to reduce, reuse, and recycle:
- Chantal Cookware, a major cookware manufacturer, encourages recycling in the day-to-day business operations at their facility and with their suppliers. For example, when shipping products Chantal only uses recycled paper and air pillows rather than cheaper Styrofoam pellets.
- Thirsties, a company that manufactures modern cloth baby diapers, boasts the use of only the best made-in-America components in order to reduce their carbon footprint, to help support domestic textile mills, and to ensure diapers will last wash after wash. This company provides an excellent product that reduces the buildup of disposable diapers in our landfills.
- WexelArt frames manufacturer produces art frames that can be re-used by simply removing the art and replacing with new art. The frames can also be used by companies to display brochures, promo posters, or sales and special offers. A genius product that allows companies and individuals to reuse frames for many different purposes.
5. Improvements in the food industry
Soy growth among farms across the world is showing rapid growth in this economy. Soy foods are a source of high-quality protein and has the potential to be a key source of income for farmers.
What to do?
Many farmers and food producers are developing management plans for sustainable growth and promoting standards and verification mechanisms which help to grow crops that are more efficiently utilized. The soy industry is showing significant growth because of the high nutritional components of soy. Many food manufacturers who are not yet involved in production of soy food materials are now exploring the options and benefits of including soy in their product line.
6. Higher use of post-consumer recycled fiber
Consumers appreciate the use of post-consumer recycled fiber in packaging and its use among responsible corporate entities is growing.
What to do?
Many companies are utilizing 10% post-consumer recycled paper. Examples include coffee cups at your favorite coffee shop. Consumers notice and companies will continue to explore the benefits of higher use of this renewable resource.
7. Higher use of recycled rubber materials
Used automobile tires liter landfills and are among the largest and most problematic source of waste at landfills due to their large volumes. Tires can be recycled for use on basketball courts, new shoe products, hot melt asphalt, and recycled asphalt pavement – among other things. Industries that recycle these materials and re-use them in construction are showing strong growth.
What to do?
Where there is growth, there is strong interest. Companies might consider researching possible use of these types of materials in the construction of their products and market them as “recycled” automobile tires. This benefits the environment and benefits the companies that recycle them in terms of possible economic gain.
8. Higher incidence of recycled batteries and computers
Companies are more and more often recycling old computers when they are replaced with better and faster machines. Apple recycling program, HP recycling program and Dell recycling program are among a few of the top programs that offer this service.
What to do?
Companies can utilize these services and consider advertising to their consumer base that the company participates in programs to recycle used computers in an effort to reduce landfill waste.
10. Clothing material trends
The fashion industry is seeing strong trends toward renewable resources such as eco-friendly bamboo. Not only is bamboo considered one of the most renewable resources in the world; it is also one of the softest materials, even more so than cotton.
What to do?
Companies that are involved in the fashion industry should take note of this growing trend and explore the possibilities of including these items in their product line.
- SavageDesigns – an ecologically and socially conscious clothing and design company that is committed to increasing the health of its consumers by providing healing clothing with nettle fibers.
- Cariloha – bamboo clothing manufacturer that offers franchising opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Green marketing for business
Along with the rise of green consumers, we see the rise of eco-labeling, which is “green advertising”. That creates the opportunity for just about anything to be marketed as green. It is important that the marketing strategies that companies use are “true” and companies that market their products and services as eco-friendly are indeed “green”. This article can help entrepreneurs and business owners find “true green” companies and services for the growing eco-friendly economy.