The green spot of businesses

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray; […]

 

Joyce Kilmer said it better than anyone else. Trees are full of life, and it’s their presence that makes our existence a little more bearable. As Kilmer considers, there is no word that can be as ‘lovely’ as a tree, as he claims that poems are made by fools while only God can make trees. Admittedly, one needs to remove the religious implications from the poem to get to its true meaning, namely that man-made doesn’t compare to nature-made.

 

I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree

So, it’s only natural to consider the influence of nature in the business world. After all, why couldn’t trees and plants influence entrepreneurs as much as they do poets? The finding is that nature can be not only a source of inspiration but also a source of invaluable profits. In an era of environmental issues and nature awareness, now is the best of all times to understand how businesses can benefit from nature – and how nature can benefit from businesses, for this is a two-way relationship.

Nature is good for you

When you are stuck in an endless loop of 9-to-5 office days, you can feel the need for a break. In all honesty, more and more employees admit that there is no such thing as a 9-to-5 routine. Since the digital revolution, everyone keeps track of their business notifications on their mobile phones. The workday blends silently into everyday life, making every office worker a human machine that never fully disconnects from their workstation. Emails coming in the middle of the evening are read and dealt with. Phone calls are taken in the morning as you drop the kids to schools. Work never ends, making the burn-out syndrome all too real. Vacations need to present an opportunity to unplug, by replacing the constant digital buzz with another kind of buzz. And that’s precisely what nature is about. The appeal of a healthy retreat has never been more significant; it gives millions of overworked minds the time to recharge their energy levels in the middle of nature. Breathe in, breathe out, you’re surrounded by trees. Replace the vibration of your phone with the songs of birds. Nature is beneficial to your mental health.

So, if nature is so good for you, it makes sense to find ways to utilise this healing power and repay for the good deed.

I want to work surrounded by plants

Being in the middle of nature reduces your stress and anxiety, while increasing your creativity and concentration. Admittedly, from a business perspective, it can be tricky to set your offices in the middle of a forest. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring nature into your offices. In fact, several scientific studies have proven the advantages of using greenery in your workplace. Indeed, the new University of Technology in Sydney measured a 37% drop in reported anxiety and a 44% drop in anger and hostility after the introduction of plants into the office place. Another research by the University of Exeter noticed that productivity increased by 15% by adding just one plant per square meter. Additionally, plants also help to reduce sickness and absences by improving the quality of the indoor air – they remove toxic chemicals such as benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.

Reduce waste at the office

Improving your relationship with nature is beneficial for your employees. But there are other aspects of the relationship that you can apply to make more of nature outside of the workplace. Namely, relying on used quality items such as approved used printer cartridges that have been tested for compliance can not only save you money but also reduce the waste impact on nature. If you’re looking for options to reduce business waste and maximise your cash flow, there are plenty of options available from recycling your wastes to preferring used professional equipment over brand new. You’ll find professional suppliers of used materials who test for quality, effectiveness and safety, so that business owners don’t run into risks. A professionally vetted piece of equipment is covered by liability insurance.

Upcycling and making money

The latest decor hobby trends have seen new terms make their apparition on the market, such as upcycling, shabby chic, and recycled furniture. In the business world, only upcycling is a valid option. But contrary to the interior architecture market where an upcycled piece of furniture is given a second life into your living room, business upcycling is about re-utilising elements for a monetary profit. The greatest example of upcycling creativity is the Canadian company Chopvalue, which has been turning used chopsticks into home accessories and furniture. Every year 80 billion chopsticks are thrown away in China alone; as a result, the Bring Your Own Chopsticks movement has spread in Asian countries. Chopvalue invested in recycling bins to collect used chopsticks in their local restaurants. These, once cleaned and prepared, were turned into shelves, table tops, and many other household items ready to be sold.

The ROI of producing your own energy

The idea of generating your own energy is not new, but surprisingly enough, only a small portion of the commercial properties have considered the installation of solar panel and other green energy generators. From a business perspective, the major issue is to quantify the ROI of these additions, aka whether protecting nature is commercially viable. Indeed, it’s a long-term investment. With solar panels, SMEs can expect to receive a profit only after 10 years, once the initial cost is paid back.

It’s not just nature that says thank you; customers do too

So, why should you invest in nature-friendly strategies that cost more than they deliver? Because there are significant advantages that are not quantifiable, such as building a positive reputation. 71% of customers are likely to support businesses that are environmentally friendly, indicating that the majority of customers prefer shopping with eco-friendly brands.

In short, there is a profitable connection between nature and business that more and more entrepreneurs are starting to explore. From using plants into the office to generating your own energy, the business benefits affect your reputation, revenues, productivity and overall market position.

*Photo at the top of the page by Christine Buske, taken in Canada on Balm Beach, Ontario
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Christine Buske is a former academic who left science at the bench, and now considers herself a woman in tech. She is a frequently invited speaker, and enjoys talking about career transformation (particularly leaving academia for the business world), tech, issues around women in tech, product management, agile, and outreach. She is a proud Canadian resident, and qualifies as a "serial expat".

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