Universally Green: Three Tips from Universal Studios on Greening Any Business

You can’t help but “see green” when you look at Shrek, but that’s green in a friendly ogre green coloring sort of way.

However, scratch the surface at Universal Studios theme park in California and you’ll see there’s a refreshing priority toward going green that both enhances the traveler’s experience and makes a statement on what a company the mega-size of NBC Universal can do in the green direction.

When we see the big Hollywood players like Universal Studios going green, it is easy to quickly write them off as playing in the big cash flow leagues that come with the size of mega corporations like NBC Universal. Because of the size and resources involved, it is easy to write-off any efforts Universal Studios is doing as way beyond the scope of Joe and Jane, average ecopreneurs with more dedication than dollars.

Sure, Universal Studios sells in green with Hollywood style and pizazz, but scratch the surface on some of their efforts and you’ll see there are simple, tangible tactics any business can model at their own level and needs. Here are three tips from their “green is universal” program to draw inspiration from, no Access Hollywood required:

1. Add Signage
Granted, people flock to Universal Studios theme parks for entertainment other than eco-tips. Still, I couldn’t help but notice the significant signage popping up throughout the park when I was recently at Universal Studios Hollywood. Under the “green is universal” umbrella message, signs throughout the park explain why certain things are being done, from shutting off extra elevator ramps during smaller off-season crowds to the impact of an array of photovoltaic panels. Clear and tangible, these signs subtly but effectively peppered education throughout my day at the park.

Signs are cheap, but learning is transformative. Whatever your business, give your greening efforts a label and educational focus by clearly communicating your efforts and priorities. On our small green B&B in Wisconsin, where we’re doing many of these same things as Universal but granted on a much smaller scale, I realized I could and should increase our signage to enable guests to explore and learn on their own as they wander the property.

2. Pick Low-Hanging Fruit
Simple change can often be the most effective – and visible. Remember to focus on the easy, low-hanging fruits of change. Universal Studios did this by removing Styrofoam cups from the park and instead using compostable cups for all hot beverages. This is an easy change to get green ball rolling, one that park guests would readily see during their visit.

3. Blend Fun and Facts
When you’re in the entertainment businesses, fun comes naturally – a lesson other green business efforts could draw a lesson from. NBC Universal pioneered www.greenisuniversal.com, a digital platform across their various networks and audiences to help promote the green message. By incorporating green messages and educational features into popular prime time shows like The Office or the TODAY Show during “green week,” (this will happen again during Earth Day week in April, 2009), backed-up with various on-line resources and support, NBC Universal adds their entertainment flair to green education.

The lesson is – there are lessons to be learned in everything and from anyone – particularly as we work together toward to greener business future.

Photo credit: John Ivanko

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