Green Issue: Expert Tips for a Greener Workplace

Authors of various eco-living guides share their favorite tips for businesses to provide maximum environmental impact at relatively minimal cost.

Shaklee cleaning products.
Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Green issue 10/28/2008

As the eco trend gains momentum, authors of various eco-living guides share their favorite tips for businesses to provide maximum environmental impact at relatively minimal cost.

This story first appeared in the October 28, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.


Sophie Uliano, author of The New York Times bestseller “Gorgeously Green” and creator of the Gorgeously Green organic skin care line.

• While muted in tone, vegetable dyes are the lowest-impact [tints] and produce nice hues. Earth Creations, a wonderful eco-friendly brand from Alabama, dyes primarily with clay.

• A company should be carbon neutral. Patagonia is a shining example, as the company uses recycled materials. Via their program Common Threads, people can bring in old fleeces and T-shirts and recycle them into new clothes. They will also give you a fabric bag that can either be used as a pillowcase or a drip-dry cleaning bag.


Heather Stephenson and Jen Boulden, co-founders of the blog Idealbite.com, which was recently acquired by Walt Disney Co.

• Replace desktops with laptops. Laptops use 90 percent less energy than desktops, and they are getting more and more powerful. By always setting your computer to go to sleep mode after it has rested for five minutes, your company will not only conserve energy, but save $25 to $75 a year. And at night, always turn your computer off. Computers today are designed to be turned on and off 10,000 times, and the energy usage required to turn them on and off is much less than the energy expended when they run overnight.

• Ditch the bottled water. A lot of offices are addicted, but 40 percent of the time, the bottled water you purchase is only tap water. Furthermore, it takes about a thousand years for the plastic to degrade properly. Save a lot of money by simply putting a filter on the faucet from Brita or Pur.

Starre Vartan, author of “The Eco Chick Guide to Life.”

• Eco-friendly, AZO-free dyes are commercially available, while super natural options such as Earthues, used by Ekovaruhuset and Eko-lab designers, are extremely earth-conscious alternatives.

Renée Loux, chef and host of the TV show “It’s Easy Being Green” on the Fine Living Network and author of “Easy Green Living.”

• Conventional chlorine-based bleaching is very toxic to the environment. Oxygen bleaching is a wonderful solution. Like chlorine bleach, it oxidizes the cloth and scours it, but what is left over is a nontoxic oxygen water and soda ash.

• Consider more sustainable options for trimmings: choose a natural material like coconut wood or bamboo for buttons or use recycled hardware for blue jeans. In the future, look for zippers made out of a plant-based plastic like corn plastic.

Summer Rayne Oakes, author of the forthcoming book “Style, Naturally” and member of the board of advisors for Discovery Network’s “Planet Green.”

• Be transparent. It’s really hard to have an eco-friendly business if you are not transparent with your entire operation. Nike has signed up with a company called Historic Futures that maps out a business’s entire supply chain. A number of labels have been using a company out of Amsterdam called Made By, which creates a code that, when scanned, reveals a piece of clothing’s entire range of production.

Sloan Barnett, author of “Green Goes With Everything,” contributor on NBC’s “Today” show and green editor for KNTV in San Francisco.

• Create a healthy shopping environment by using biodegradable nontoxic cleaning products like Shaklee, a full line of natural cleaning products made from corn surfactants.