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The Marshall Plan: Sustainability Starts with Action

(April/May 2018) posted on Thu May 03, 2018

Is 2018 the year your shop finally goes green?


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By Marshall Atkinson

Why should sustainability matter to your company? Is it because your customers are demanding it? I’m sure you want to decorate on those awesome new eco-apparel blanks and your customers are probably asking for them more frequently. But is a bigger trend taking place?

More of corporate America is interested in the triple bottom line than ever before. If you don’t think so, go to any major corporation’s website and read their policy online. If you aren’t getting business from those big brands, it may be because you are not aligned with their ideals.

Maybe you’re thinking about sustainability because you believe it can push more cash to your bottom line – always a good thing. Sustainable manufacturing can be a cost-saver.

Or maybe it’s a personal issue for you. The planet needs help. We can do more than clean up the side of the road on Earth Day.



If you start with your why, it will be easier to work on your plan and the justifications for beginning. The what and how will become more apparent to you. This framework will also help you make some crucial decisions later.

Action Step One: Energy
So, let’s say you’ve decided to get started. Where to begin? Easy: Take a look at your energy consumption. Whether you rent or own your building, you are forking out a lot of money for utilities. It’s one of the biggest expenses in your company, and also one of the easiest places to make some big improvements that matter.

First, contact your local utility company and schedule a commercial energy audit. This should be a service provided free or at a nominal charge by your utility company. They will schedule an auditor to come to your facility and nose around. The auditor will look at your HVAC, equipment, windows and doors, and other areas of concern. They may also ask you questions such as where you lose heating and cooling, how old your lighting fixtures are, and so on.

After the auditor is finished, he or she will write up a report on your energy consumption with a laundry list of all the things you can do to improve. That’s the best part: They do the thinking for you. Better, they will often recommend sources of grant money or low-interest loans that you may be eligible for to make the improvements.


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