ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Current nonprofit sector research and recommendations for effective day-to-day practice from ASU faculty, staff, students, and the nonprofit and philanthropic community.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 9:30am
posted by
Allison Finney,
Commerce Energy

Unlike industries tethered to the private or public sectors, nonprofit organizations have an onus to further a common interest. That’s often why people get involved with them in the first place. Whether it’s a charity, a civic league, a social club, or any other type of NPO, the end product is likely to be an evolving contribution to society rather than a quick buck.

As flag bearers in the march for a greater good, it seems almost requisite that nonprofits should make an effort to go green - insomuch as what’s under our control. In the light of our deepening catalog of climate change research, many believe that the number one concern for our society should be a heightened effort to reduce our environmental impact. Here’s what your nonprofit can do to go green while still carrying out its mission:

  1. Before you organize your next benefit, fundraiser or elsewise-related event, think about the cleanest way to do it. Public exhibitions inherently produce a good deal of waste, including (but not limited to) paper, food and fuel. Have your event at a convenient, easy-to-reach venue that won’t have people driving their cars from all ends of the earth to get there. If you’re scheduling a meal or some snacks, try reusable plates and utensils. If not, find compostable or biodegradable tableware. Skip the paper name tags and chintzy decorations and organize an activity to have people introduce themselves to one another.

  1. Conserve around the workplace where you can. Today’s workforce has been calibrated and streamlined for digital communication, so not a whole lot of NPOs should need the mass of paper products we depended on ten or fifteen years ago. Between email, word processors, instant messaging and good old fashioned face-to-face interaction, there’s no need to keep a bunch of potentially-wasted paper sitting around the office. When you do have to print something out or run a sheet through the copier, try going double sided or do it with a lighter shade of ink.
  2. Incentivize green behavior at every level of the organization. While it’s nice to able to boast your green practices to outsiders, it’s even more important to create a sense of internal earth-first responsibility. Make eco-friendliness a game: try rewarding teams or individuals for meeting recycling goals. Not only will it green your nonprofit, it could also help you build morale.
  3. Look at what other local nonprofits are doing to subtract from their environmental footprint. Pick and choose the ones you could implement in your own business, and build on their successes. If there’s an opportunity to partner up, don’t hesitate to reach out and see where you can benefit one another’s expertise. 

These are four effective places to start, but greening your nonprofit is a case-by-case matter. Keep your eyes and ears open for new ways to make your company the eco-friendliest version of itself. Our society is depending on the non-profit sector to the lead the way when it comes to our greater good. 

Allison Finney is a freelancer and blogger within the energy sphere. It's her goal to inspire a more eco-friendly attitude across energy suppliers, utilities, and other industry players alike.

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