It didn't occur to me until just recently (um, like yesterday) that the way I do business nowadays is WAY greener than it used to be. How so, you ask? Well, let me iterate some of the "old" ways:
  1. Everything used to be on paper. Everything! Paper brochures, paper contracts, paper rate sheets, paper marketing materials, and on and on.
  2. All that paper stuff changed constantly and so was delivered to me regularly in (you guessed it) paper envelopes and cardboard boxes.
  3. All that paper and cardboard stuff was delivered to me in fuel-guzzling and exhaust- and CO2-spewing trucks.
  4. Many times, when a prospective client called, I had to hop in the car and drive to who-knows-where for an in-person appointment, often more than once.
  5. If I could manage to get off the hook for the initial in-person appointment, I would run the person a quote on my computer and then print it out on (you guessed it again) paper, put it and a paper application (with a paper SASE) into a paper envelope to be mailed -- ah, more trees felled and more fuel-guzzling and exhaust- and CO2-spewing trucks!
  6. At least some of my marketing was via mail - and there go some more trees, more petroleum and more air pollution.
  7. If I wanted to network, it had to be at an event, in person and/or meeting with people at coffee shops, etc. More car miles.
So what are the new, cleaner, greener ways of doing things?
  1. Pretty much everything is still available in a paper form, but I hardly every use that format. 
  2. When somebody calls about health insurance, we usually have a long conversation discussing the options.
  3. I run all quotes on the computer and most of them get emailed straight to the person. I can even attach a PDF of the brochure to an email. Some of the carriers' quoting software includes a PDF right with the quote.
  4. While I still offer in-person appointments, most people feel comfortable after having had their questions answered via phone and they know I'm always available to answer followup questions.
  5. Most people opt to complete the entire application online; a few still complete a paper application, but that's usually something they print out from a PDF of the application that I've emailed them that they (admittedly) snail mail back to me. Still, once I get their paper application, I usually enter the information online, ending the paper trail.
  6. Most opt for the bank draft payment option, although direct bill is still available from most carriers (albeit often for an additional fee).
  7. I still go to networking events and meet people for coffee or lunch, but there are huge (and largely free and non-polluting) additional marketing options now using the internet: this blog, my website, social networking sites, and email marketing like my weekly e-newsletter.
So, there you have it. Health insurance gone green - not to mention far more time and cost effective! And how many people REALLY get excited at the thought of having an insurance agent in their home, anyway?! :-)