Illustration by Joe Lai.
Illustration by Joe Lai.

“Going green” is a phrase that means little to some, but means the world to others. Every day more and more people choose to make a difference in their lifestyle by lessening their effect on the globe.

Earlier this week VIVA Transcription Corporation — a company that provides medical transcription services and medical record storage from its base in Santa Cruz — announced it had successfully been designated a “Certified Green Business” by the Institute for Green Business Certification (IGBC) and the Uniform Standard for Green Business Certification (USGBC).

Matt Paulsen, director of public relations at VIVA, wrote in the company’s press release that “the 38-page audit evaluated VIVA’s green initiatives in 10 key categories and VIVA received top scores in all 10.”

VIVA has been in business since 2003 and operates in 48 states including Puerto Rico, according to Manuel Prado, president and CEO of the company.

“The reason why we decided to take the green route was because we really feel that it’s the right thing to do,” Prado said. “It’s just something that sort of made sense at this point.”

The company took many steps, from using water containers and glasses instead of plastic bottles to requiring employees to shut off their computers when they went home at night.

VIVA shops at a local Santa Cruz store, Rapid Refill, which provides recycled ink, paper, and other goods to the green community. Also, much of their business is digitally based, and they encourage their customers not to print out documents.

Prado went on to say that because of these choices business costs declined significantly.

“We did not receive anything, no state or federal grants or money in any way,” Prado said. “We are really looking at it as our responsibility.”

Gary Griggs, UC Santa Cruz professor of oceanography, explained that he felt the government needs to step in to provide further incentives to companies like VIVA in order to ensure more extensive environmental action.

“There need to be decisions made at a higher level because in fact, our decisions are often seen on such a small level,” Griggs said. “‘I’m only one person, it doesn’t count.’ ‘Why should I bike up the hill? I’m only one person, it won’t matter.’”

Anne Browne, UCSC undergraduate and Environmental Center volunteer, agreed with this idea.

“I think that green certification for businesses is a potentially great way to improve the sustainability of our economy,” Browne said. “But the current bills don’t have enough incentive for businesses to change, and no consequences to the businesses that refuse to go greener.”

Griggs also explained that the local government was more responsive to the challenge of global warming and businesses’ carbon footprints. Nonetheless, the process of “going green” for VIVA has been far from easy.

Despite their success, VIVA expects more work to come. Prado said his wish is that in the future, VIVA will be completely carbon-neutral. To do that they need to purchase solar panels, a heavy investment for a company of such small size at this point in time.

Other companies in Santa Cruz also see the importance of mitigating their effect on climate change, even if only on a small level.

Companies like Fall Creek Engineering, Santa Cruz Community Credit Union and Vanguard Realtors are all certified green businesses.

“I think we all have our own role to play, whether it’s personal or corporate or academic,” Griggs said.

Griggs also said that it is easier for a person of an older generation to dismiss climate change, and not concern themselves with reducing their carbon footprint.

“People in the younger generations, in their teens and 20s, have the longest period of time to either suffer or deal with the problems,” Griggs said.

Griggs explained that even then, it is hard for people to concern themselves with climate change.

“In part it’s because it’s such a large-scale issue and the changes, until recently, have been either perceived as happening somewhere else, or ‘that’s their problem and I’m not going to worry about it,’” he said.

Prado asserts that it is important for other businesses and people to follow suit and make the environment a priority.

“We’re all very fortunate to live in Santa Cruz, and I think it’s important when you live in such a beautiful place to try to give back as much as you can,” he said. “That is a responsibility that I think all business owners should heed.”