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Business and Management

Jumping on the Green Bandwagon

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Let’s face it, we operate in a dirty environment. But, that doesn’t
mean it can’t be cleaned up a bit to make automotive shops part of the
green revolution taking place across the country.

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The trend toward green initiatives is growing on the national
level, especially through clean-energy technology programs and more
hybrid-electric and electric vehicles from the OEs. So, as you look
ahead to 2010, maybe you are considering introducing “greener” business
practices for your shop.

But, is the green bandwagon something you should jump on? First of
all, don’t worry — making your shop a greener business doesn’t
automatically label you a “tree hugger.”

In fact, some of you may have already implemented what is considered
green business practices because they made good business sense. For
example, maybe your shop is saving money by making differences in your
waste disposal costs by carefully selecting and managing shop material
purchases. Instead of using paper or Styrofoam cups for hot drinks,
your shop uses washable mugs.

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Maybe you’ve reduced paper towel waste with air dryers and washable shop rags.

And, instead of throwing cardboard parts boxes away, they are broken down and picked up by a recycler.

Going green won’t change your political affiliation either — but it
will make you a better citizen and neighbor. Keep in mind that the more
we throw away, the more space is used for landfills. And, when a
landfill becomes full, taxpayers have to build a new one. So, the more
you recycle, the less you throw away, and the longer the landfills will
last. The amount of taxpayer money saved by extending landfill
longevity is a vital community benefit.

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Another benefit to going green is that you’ll attract more customers.
People want to go to environmentally conscious shops because it makes
them feel good, too. So, if your shop is adhering to state or local
“green guidelines,” promote it with decals on your shop doors, in the
office and on your website.

According to the Automotive Service Association
(ASA), there are a growing number of shops that are going green. Some
of the green initiatives practiced by these shops that could easily be
implemented at your business include:

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• Recycling antifreeze and transmission fluid, along with other vehicle
fluids. If not disposed of properly, these fluids are potential
contaminants to the ground-water supply.

• Recycle aluminum, steel, rubber, cardboard and paper. (For every ton
of paper that is recycled, the following is saved: 7,000 gallons of
water; 380 gallons of oil; and enough electricity to power an average
house for six months.)

• Deal more with suppliers that allow businesses to return used parts for remanufacturing or recycling.

• Use non-chlorinated aerosols and aqueous-based washer systems for parts cleaning.

• Enlist petroleum-eating microbes for minor spills.

• Use recycled printer toner cartridges and, where possible, use
two-sided printing on 100% recycled paper in your office operations. ?

One of the best handbooks out there I’ve seen on greening your shop is from the Portland, OR, Pollution Prevention Outreach Team.
For a downloadable copy of their 68-page handbook Keep Your Shop in
Tune — A Best Management Practices Guide for Automotive Industries,
e-mail me at [email protected] or visit their website at www.ecobiz.org.

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But, make sure you “consider the environment” before printing out the whole document. 

Green Sites

If you would like more information on greening your shop in 2010, the following websites provide practical business tips:

• Green Business Practices — http://www.business.gov/expand/green-business/

• U.S. Department of Energy — http://www.eere.energy.gov/

• How To Go Green At Work — http://planetgreen.discovery.com/go-green/green-work/

• Coordinating Committee For Automotive Repair — http://www.ccar-greenlink.org/vshops/

–Ed Sunkin is editor of sister publication Under Hood Service. Art
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