Sunday, May 12, 2013
Going Green: A Growing Business Trend
By Lisa Quaglino
One of the most recent environmental trends is turning your home or business into an ecofriendly space. Today, there are numerous options and products available stamped with an ecofriendly label promising that through production and use, you are contributing to the environmental cause. However, many people question whether these efforts are worthwhile.
One company, The Jumping Jungle, in East Brunswick, New Jersey, has taken steps to become an ecofriendly business. The Jungle, as it is often called, features inflatable rides and party rooms to host birthdays for children. The building is covered in signs with the ecofriendly logo, from the front door to the main walls, even on the cleaning products. Owner Greg Wathen says it was his main goal when opening in March 2009.
“We wanted to make everything we possibly could ecofriendly. I did a ton of research and found products that are both durable, because of the nature of our business, and ecofriendly. Everything you see has in some way incorporated a green product. The carpets are made of recycled material, the light bulbs are efficient, and the paint on the walls is ecofriendly. All the cleaning products we use also have ecofriendly labels.”
The Jumping Jungle is among very few businesses that fulfill the promise to become ecofriendly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by November 2011, less than 20% of businesses which provide arts, entertainment, and recreation to the public are considered all green, with around 40% being considered somewhat green.
“It takes a lot of energy to keep our rides up and running all day, and they haven’t invented energy efficient inflatables yet, so we had to find other ways to save money. We also try to use as little paper as possible. We use email a lot to relay information to our customers, mail has become somewhat obsolete,” Said Wathen.
Ecofriendly Business Benefits
Wathen is part of a small group of business owners who saw the benefits in opening a company which provides people with a service and makes them feel good about purchasing it as well. Ecofriendly products have become popular with a large part of the country as environmentalists have pushed the many issues industrialization and technology have created to the forefront of problems needing to be addressed by society.
An article by CNN Money discusses the trend in ecofriendly small businesses and claims that customers are drawn to the ecofriendly label. One source, Steve Rosen, owner of FranNet, a franchise consulting organization states it best by saying “…it is something that agrees with people's social objectives."
“Whenever I see something with an ecofriendly label I feel a little better about buying it, no matter what the product is. I may not be making the biggest impact, but when it comes to the environment, every little bit helps. That was one thing that I liked about The Jungle when I was looking to get hired. It feels good to be able to say I work for an ecofriendly business.” commented Jumping Jungle employee Caitlyn Newell.
Employees and customers alike find themselves impressed by the ecofriendly logo that covers the building which houses The Jumping Jungle. Wathen has only positive opinions about his decision to go green, although there were some doubts at first due to cost.
“In the beginning, everything is more expensive. Ecofriendly products simply retail higher than the other options. We definitely had some doubts at first, we weren’t sure if it was going to be worth it in the long run but that has proven to be untrue over time. I always get comments about how great it is that we feature green products, and I can honestly say it has persuaded some people to choose us over the local competition,” says Wathen.
Competition is one of the many reasons there seem to be no long term negative impacts when choosing to go green, despite the initial cost. With carpet costing around $2.28 per square foot in some stores, the price to cover an entire commercial building can add up. Despite the high cost at first, the money is most likely going to made back over time, as is the case with The Jumping Jungle.
Ecofriendly Labels Attract Customers
Between helping to fight off competition, making customers feel good about their choice to buy your service or product, and the overall positive influence on the environment, ecofriendly businesses tend to see profits above and beyond their initial goals. In today’s economy, adding an ecofriendly label to your business is one way to attract customers, maybe even some who might not have considered your business in the first place.
Most importantly, however, is the impact going green has on the environment. Over the past decades, little has been done to reverse the damage that has accumulated due to a lack of interest from numerous sources including the government and much of society. The small steps taken by these businesses shows promise of a more productive future in terms of environmental issues and their solutions. Whether these improvements are made by switching to green cleaning products or buying the more expensive yet more efficient light bulbs, every little detail counts.
“I have absolutely no regrets about choosing the ecofriendly options for my business. Everyone benefits from going green. Not only have I received the benefits, but my customers and employees have as well. And most importantly I can say I’m doing my part to restore the environment. That, of course, is the long term goal of all of this,” Wathen said.
Going green has been a hopeful vision of environmentalists everywhere, and businesses like The Jumping Jungle prove that helping the environment aren’t the only benefits. These businesses lead the way for others to follow in their footsteps, showing that in the long term, more people are positively affected by ecofriendly choices in all areas of their life. It's small steps like these which will help lead to a more productive future in terms of improvement in the environment.
Lisa Quaglino is a junior majoring in Journalism at Ramapo College of New Jersey.