Businesses can support sustainability through advertising
Mike Johnson, once an environmental management worker in Portland, Oregon, was constantly thinking about ways he could improve the environment. After reading a National Geographic article in the mid-90s about carpet made from recycled soda pop bottles and other recycled materials, Johnson started getting excited about the green-building movement.
At that time, Johnson said, "sustainability"had not completely caught on in America. While he was looking for green-building materials to build his first home, Johnson noticed many businesses did not carry them and did not have the resources to find them. Johnson considered starting his own business that carried green-building materials, however, he quickly found out that advertising was expensive and did not yet cater to the sustainability industry.
"I went and spoke with other green-building business owners and everyone expressed the same frustrations," Johnson said.
That’s when Johnson decided to start his own sustainability advertising company, which he calls the ReDirect Guide.
"That is how the first guide was born. I developed ReDirect with the hopes of bringing green-building consumers and businesses together," Johnson said.
The ReDirect Guide offers advertising for select businesses that fulfill a list of specific sustainability practices criteria. The guide is a free publication that offers advertising and lists businesses that support the green-building movement, as well as resources that teach consumers more about how to better sustain the environment. The ReDirect Guide is carried at a variety of health and wellness stores in Park City, including Wild Oats Market and Fair Weather Foods.
Johnson started the ReDirect Guide about eight years ago in Portland, but has since brought the directory to three regions in the West.
The guide is now available in Portland and Vancouver, Wash., Denver, Vail and Fort Collins, Colo. and recently came to Salt Lake City and Park City.
Johnson said he hopes the guide will raise awareness of sustainability and its impact on the environment.
"The unique thing about sustainability is it doesn’t penalize anyone for participating, it actually helps everyone," Johnson said. "It helps businesses to make a profit. [Businesses] gain inherent power because it uses the system we already use. In the long run, it [creates] a much more stable economy."
Businesses can apply and qualify to be listed in the ReDirect Guide, by having a ReDirect representative visit to see if they meet certain criteria for the sustainability and green movement.
"Every business is so different and every business is based on their competitors within the industry," said Park City’s ReDirect representative Genna Speno of the sustainability test for businesses. "It’s about being a substantially better business within your industry."
The fee for a listing or advertisement in the ReDirect Guide ranges from $350 to $2,000, depending on the amount of coverage or space a business wants to take up in the publication.
Johnson said the sustainability practice test for businesses assures consumers who read the ReDirect Guide that the businesses they are supporting actually practice time-proven sustainability efforts.
"We’re making things really easy. We list qualified businesses so you can trust who you’re supporting and you don’t have to question if the business is truly a sustainable business," Johnson said. "When we turn businesses away, we try to leave them with recommendations for [how they can be more sustainable]."
Speno said ReDirect is starting to catch on in the area and provides a great resource for people who want to be sure they’re supporting the green movement.
"It’s grown immensely since the first year and has gotten more dynamic and provided more information every year," she said. "There’s definitely a strong following of readers."
ReDirect works with banks and other sustainability movements to support green-building consumerism in the United States. One advertising strategy that Visa credit cards is currently using is a new card that allows those who spend on their card to support the offset of carbon monoxide emissions in America.
"It’s a unique product, a carbon-offsetting Visa card," Johnson said. "Every single purchase made, a percentage of it goes to offset carbon emissions through our partner, Sustainable Travel International. They get half the proceeds developed through the program."
Johnson said he hopes to eventually expand ReDirect Guide across the United States. So far, he said, many foreign countries and U.S. cities have contacted him about bringing the publication to their areas. But, as a company that supports sustainability, he is taking his time to be sure he is "walking the talk." Johnson said he will expand the publication as his advertising source attracts more businesses.
"We chose to go as a for-profit organization, instead of a non-profit one," he said. "For us to go and say we can make your sustainable business successful, I felt we had to become a sustainable business on purpose."
Until then, Johnson hopes people will recognize the importance of sustaining the environment. He hopes Parkites and businesses will use the directory as their source for green-building in the area and to promote green-building practices.
"I really hope to increase participation and make people more aware of just how good [sustainability] can be," Johnson said. "You can still live comfortably and very well in a manner that has just as much impact on people all over the planet."
Speno said, as the regional representative for Utah, she sees Parkites slowly catching onto the sustainability movement as time goes by.
"People are just seeing that it’s no longer really a choice that you can make or not make, but we have a social responsibility to do it," she said. "It’s just an effort where every little thing you do makes a difference. My focus is Park City, so I’ve been working to get more businesses on board here and let locals know that it’s a resource available to them."
The ReDirect Guide is printed and released annually on Earth Day. The publication can be subscribed to for free or picked up at businesses that support sustainability practices in town. To be advertised or listed in the ReDirect Guide, businesses can call or apply online. The Website offers a full list of sustainable businesses in the area. For more information, visit http://www.redirectguide.com or call (801) 994-1844.
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