Wellbeing / Social responsibility

Do you have a green business?

The idea of having a green business is very topical at the moment and every change we make to the way we consume resources and reduce waste helps. Here are the green things I do as part of my business practice. What can you do in your business?

20 September 2007 by


I got rid of my car almost ten years ago, instead opting to pay more to live closer to the city and a train station. Public transport makes for longer travel times, but I use this time to catch up on my reading, writing, emails or just relaxing and staring out the window.

I walk where possible, especially between meetings in the city. Walking often brings much welcomed clarity to the thoughts in my head.

Not having a car is probably the largest single factor in slowing down my days as I am not tempted to book back-to-back meetings. On the rare mad-schedule days, I use taxis.


I work out of cafés quite a bit and I try to choose ones that use washable cutlery and crockery to cut down on my use of disposable cups and spoons.

Working from a café or a client’s premises means I am in a space that is already lit and air conditioned and this avoids the unnecessarily duplication of resources and costs.

"I got rid of my car almost ten years ago, instead opting to pay more to live closer to the city and a train station."


I use a laptop for many reasons. It is engineered from the ground up to be much more energy efficient than a desktop PC. Having an on-board battery protects me from power outages. And when required, I can literally put all my work away in a drawer.

A laptop also gives me the freedom to work wherever I want. It turns public transport into productive time.

To further conserve power, I set my Power Options to power off the monitor after 15 minutes of inactivity. This also extends the life of my screen.

Because I like everything on-screen to stay where I had them, I use the Hibernate or Stand By feature to put the laptop into sleep mode instead of shutting it down. This saves almost as much power as a complete shutdown.

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I read and write almost everything completely on-screen these days. I chose a laptop with a high-resolution screen so the text is sharp and legible, and I can work with two A4 pages side by side. I also have an external LCD monitor that is pivoted to a portrait format so I can see an entire A4 page in actual size without scrolling! On the rare occasions when I do print draft documents, I use the draft mode to reduce toner usage and print two sheets to a page.

The on-screen mark-up tools in Word and Acrobat make it easier to collaborate with others without needing to print the documents first. All the documentation I supply my clients is electronic and designed with legible fonts and layouts to ensure good on-screen legibility.

I don’t use pre-printed pamphlets for marketing as I find the web far more adaptive and flexible. The only printed material I have is my business card! I also try to file everything electronically. All of my important personal and business documents are kept on my secured and backed-up hard disk. If there ever was a fire, all I need to grab is my laptop and the cat!


I use Adobe Acrobat to ‘staple’ together pages generated from different applications, review and mark-up documents, fill-in and sign forms and store scanned documents.

I also use software like the World Community Grid agent to automatically capture and use the spare processor cycles to compute cures for diseases.

I buy software via downloads where possible. Not only do I get instant satisfaction, I also save on GST if the supplier is overseas and I avoid the environmental impact of storing, packing and shipping. I don’t print the electronic manuals, as they are far more useful in a fully searchable form!

These are certainly not definitive measures, still I hope they have inspired you to look at how green your business is.

Please share your tips and thoughts below!

Zern Liew

helps his clients build beautiful businesses by practically innovating across their Branding, Communications, Processes and Systems.


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