Friday, November 7, 2008

Swimming Both Ways in the Green Stream

Green Alliance Supports Businesses and Consumers in their Efforts to Go Green

Sometimes it’s difficult to reach out to both businesses and consumers in our complex and entrepreneurial business environment. The risk of course is that each feels they are getting less than the other and the buzz from that begins to interfere with your mission.

No so with the Green Alliance.


Because the participation of both businesses (known as partners in GA parlance) and Coop Members have a synergistic effect on one another. As more businesses join the Green Alliance, offering broader discounts to Coop Members, more consumers are encouraged to join the coop to qualify for those discounts.

According to their website, The Green Alliance was born from a partnership of community environmental advocacy and business ingenuity. Green Alliance founding businesses, Simply Green Biofuels and Purely Organic Lawncare, were trying to break-in to markets dominated by fossil fuels and toxic herbicides and pesticides, when they realized that an alliance might bring more tangible results. Simply Green owner Andrew Kellar and Purely Organic head James Reinertson knew that Seacoast residents using BioHeat/biodiesel were probably interested in organic lawn care and vice versa - Kellar and Reinertson promptly began offering each other's customers mutual discounts and sharing best business practices and marketing techniques.

At the same time, community activist, Sarah Brown was working in Portsmouth, NH and Kittery, Maine on environmental issues - focused on individual energy use and personal environmental impact. As her advocacy work widened to include towns and then business, Brown saw that some businesses were leading the way in sustainability. Believing that “as business goes, so goes the public” Brown gave shape to the Green Alliance. An affiliation of business partners, reaching out to consumers eager to go green.

The formula was simple really. . . though implementation is never simple. Green Businesses become partners of the Alliance and are required to offer discounts to Coop members as a condition of membership. Their benefits include access to the growing number of Coop Members, assistance with marketing and branding, advice on additional ways to green their business, and much more. Most important in many respects is the opportunity for a third party evaluation of their services that helps distinguish them in the marketplace and asserts their green credentials in a credible fashion.

On the other side of the spectrum, consumers may join the Green Alliance as Coop Members for a modest annual fee ($35 at this writing). Membership qualifies them for the discounts offered by the Business Partners.

The Green Alliance’s geographic reach is purposefully modest. They believe strongly that focusing their efforts on the Seacoast region of NH and Maine assures that the quality of their effort will not be diluted by distance-imposed factors.

While the Green Alliance’s reach may be modest, their example can reach to every corner of the globe. The model is replicable, simple and elegant. It’s an idea that might just catch on like wildfire.

The Green Alliance
909 Islington Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801
(207) 438-9160

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