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Is your business really green?

November 18, 2010

I have been working as a researcher for 3 years now at the Center for Advanced Social Research within the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. Over the years, I have worked on several studies involving the future of newspapers, general opinions on the Missouri Lottery, and several health studies for the state of Missouri.

However, last year was the first the time I had done anything involving green businesses in Missouri. Last year, CASR (Center for Advanced Social Research) conducted a survey of Missouri businesses and found out that the state currently has 130,000 green related jobs, which is more than 5 percent of the state’s total employment. This was a pretty big deal because it was the first effort in Missouri to survey employers to measure the number of Missouri’s green jobs.

This year, CASR is back at again with the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center for the Missouri Department of Economic Development in doing another study on the state’s green businesses.

However, this time I noticed a more specific definition of what it is to be considered a green business:

According to the Missouri Department of Economic Development:

“Missouri defines a business as green if it produces parts, components, products, or services related to the green economy. Industries and firms are classified as a green-related based on their primary product or service; not based on whether they take internal steps to use less energy or be more environmentally responsible.”

Furthermore, the definition of green includes businesses that produce products or services that contribute to at least one of the following:

  1. The conservation of energy or energy efficiency
  2. The creation of renewable energy
  3. Organic food production
  4. The reduction or elimination of the direct negative impacts a product, company, or individual may have on the environment.”
  5. The reduction or elimination of the direct negative impacts the environment may have on an individual.
  6. Research and development devoted to supporting any of the aforementioned functions of a green job.

One of the continuing misconceptions business owners had in doing the survey is that they weren’t really aware of what it meant to have that green label.

For instance, just by recycling paper in your company does not make your business green unless your business is a paper recycling company.

So by definition, KOMU 8 is not a green business.

On a different note, mislabeling your business as green can be very misleading and unfair for several business if their competitors are marketing themselves as something they are not.

One of the business owners I talked to had a lot to say about competitors in his field of business. He sells and installs energy efficient window panels in homes but did not consider his business “green.”

Instead he said the products he uses are more “common sense than anything else.” But his competitors selling the same products, advertise themselves as green according to the business owner.

The owner brings up a good point if business owners try and use the green label for more green money. Personally, I agree that any business owners motives behind being a green business would be more on the environmentally responsible side of the green spectrum as opposed to the the greed and $ sign side of the spectrum. Hopefully, this is common sense for everyone else.

If you are interested in last year’s study and want to know the results or what kind of questions CASR asked businesses, you can access the report here.

Maybe you can figure out if your business is truly green?

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