I tease my daughter sometimes about being a “tree hugger”. When I told her she was featured in my blog this week, she was horrified.
Devon is a 13-going-on-19, part-time vegetarian honor student who would like nothing more than to dye her hair purple over summer break. She sometimes creates aliases for herself and has Amazon ship packages to these unknown people at our address. While some classmates compete for the title of whitest shoes, Devon generally rocks a pair of Chuck Taylors. On a good day, the left shoe might match the right one. She’s going to the Warped Tour this summer. She reads Alternative Press immediately upon its release each month. If a particular band has a positive social message, even better (as long as at least one band member is moderately attractive). My daughter is a shower-singing diva that counts the days until the next episode of Glee and dreams of attending Julliard one day. Or becoming a veterinarian. It changes a lot.
Devon recycled her iPhone in favor of a Blackberry because “touch screen keyboards are too slow”. At age 11, she contacted Dell technical support on her own because her laptop had power charging issues. And got the replacement part sent overnight. She once used zero cell phone minutes in a month (but sent over 1000 text messages) because using a phone as an actual phone is “lame”. Her most often used word is “FAIL”. Her current tweet count is somewhere north of 3500. She speaks Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, Skype, Stickam and more. She knows which blog sites are reliable and which often have inaccurate information. As such an avid communicator, her personal network includes friends from many other states and a few other countries.
Devon actively seeks out brands that are “organic”, “recycled” or “natural”. She gets excited about shopping at Whole Foods. She knows which hair care and cosmetic brands don’t test on animals. And she would rather visit a locally owned restaurant rather than a franchise.
Why should businesses take note on Earth Day? People like Devon are our new customers.
This is a wake-up call to those businesses that haven’t already figured this out for themselves. An independent, intelligent, technically savvy and socially conscious consumer is headed your way. There are more of them every day. They are located all over the world. And they network with each other effortlessly and constantly.
For all of the talk about “CSR” (corporate social responsibility) lately, one of the most compelling reasons to take a hard look at your business practices and products may be an economic one. Your sales are at risk. Consumers increasingly want to know more than your brand’s tagline – they want to know what kind of citizen you are. Irresponsible practices are exposed and vilified. Dishonest claims are investigated, refuted and publicized faster than you can tweet “brand bashing”. We are entering an era requiring facts, proof and transparency rather than disingenuous corporate propaganda.
EXAIR is a business. EXAIR is a manufacturer. We make products in our factory with machinery. We consume raw materials and energy. We generate waste. We pack and ship products around the world. Our business is not carbon neutral. But EXAIR is a responsible corporate citizen. We have reduced our consumption of resources, increased our recycling efforts and incorporated practices and standards that are beneficial to the environment into our product development, manufacturing and fulfillment processes.
Here are some of the steps we have taken to improve our operations, practices, facility and products:
- Electrical Power
- Our VSD (variable speed drive) air compressor reduced our electrical consumption by over 4,500 kWh in the past year compared to a conventional air compressor.
- Consumption reduced through increased use of natural light, higher efficiency fluorescent fixtures and LED technology.
- Compressed Air
- Consumption reduced through a leak detection and mitigation program that saved one million cubic feet of compressed air per year.
- Fossil Fuels
- Electronic delivery of invoices reduced snail-mailed copies by over 50%.
- Electronic delivery of invoices allowed 67% reduction in printed pages.
- Most shipments use recycled Kraft paper with a perfect “green score” of 360.
- Fresh Water
- Consumption reduced through a coolant management program that extends usable life of water-soluble coolant from six weeks to six months.
- Natural Gas
- Consumption reduced by installing programmable thermostats wherever possible to match heating/cooling cycles with facility usage patterns.
Recycling of Waste
- Solid Waste/Trash – Reduced by 88% through an expanded recycling program
- Metals – 100% recycled
- Paper/Cardboard – 100% recycled
- Wastewater – 100% recycled
- Wood – 100% recycled
- Plastics – 100% recycled
- EXAIR blow off products designed specifically to reduce compressed air consumption energy usage
- A new tool developed as part of our coolant management system now available to customers
- Packaging materials used by EXAIR are fully recyclable
- Most EXAIR products themselves are largely or fully recyclable at the end of their useful lives
- RoHS compliance on applicable products insures that, should these products end up in a landfill at the end of their useful lives, they will not contaminate the environment with unacceptable levels of lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, PBB, PBDE or cadmium.
As you can see above, we’ve made significant progress. But we are by no means finished. New materials, products, processes and technologies mean more opportunities for improvement.
Are you paying attention on Earth Day 2010? What steps have you taken in your business and how have you made them known to customers? Are you prepared to satisfy this new type of consumer? Your company’s future just might depend upon it.
Claims are easy, proof is hard.