Sharing the green love 
You’ve invested time and resources into your green office initiatives. You’ve encouraged employee interest and involvement. You’ve even cut some costs through such minor changes are limiting use of paper and installing a programmable thermostat.

You’re just about ready to give yourself a nice, big green pat on the back only to find your customers, your suppliers, your vendors or maybe even your industry colleagues are sucking the green out of your office with their not-so-sustainable actions.

So, what’s a green office to do? If you’ve fostered great business relationships, you don’t want to dump them just because they have Styrofoam cups by the office coffee pot.

First and foremost, walk the walk. Put “lead by example” into practice. The next time a customer comes in, offer her coffee or water in a mug or glass. Offer to send documents via e-mail rather than handing him a thick folder of paper. Or suggest a teleconference for the next meeting. Often a message comes through loud and clear without a big speech. Besides, you want to seem helpful, not condescending.

Second, give concrete examples of what has worked for you. Consider sharing how you’ve saved energy costs by using a programmable thermostat or turning the heat down a couple of degrees. Talk about how allowing employees to telecommute two days a week hasn’t lessened productivity and has helped air quality. Plus, employees are happy to save a few bucks on gasoline.

Some people will embrace the idea of going green simply because they have an appreciation for the environment. Other people need to know what’s in it for them, so don’t be afraid to share how green has benefited your company. Here’s a good article from on seven ways to save money by making your office green.

Third, give a green gift. When you’re looking for a way to thank a big client or recognize a vendor who went above and beyond, think green. Send over coffee mugs with your company logo (sending the subtle message your customer can dump the throw-away cups). Drop off some information on local recycling or composting programs. Give away some energy-efficient light bulbs.

We posed this question via Twitter and found folks are thinking along similar lines:
• From @SprintGreenNews: For wireless recycling, we focus our efforts on increasing 3 items: 1) incentive, 2) ease 3) awareness.
• From @environmentsite: Show them the money.
• From @operationcarbon: I think it's a perfect opportunity to introduce ideas to them and explain the benefits of going green.

How do you handle this situation? How have you shared your green ideas with customers, vendors or industry colleagues?

This week’s Green Thumbs Up goes to Frito-Lay and UPS. Check out this story from about how Frito-Lay is adding fuel-efficient delivery vehicles to its fleet, while UPS adds compressed natural gas delivery trucks.

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