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8 Green Ideas to Help Your Small Business and the Planet

By James Monroe

Can you do something good for both your business and the planet? Companies like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Tom’s of Maine have made environmental responsibility a core principle of their businesses. That’s one reason they have such passionate, loyal followers. Customers feel good about buying from them, and employees like working for them because they share that commitment to the environment. Fortunately, you don’t have to run a big company to incorporate an environmental commitment into your business. Small companies, and even solopreneurs, can adopt green practices. Those who do may become more appealing to customers and, in many cases, discover they can save some serious money.

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By James Monroe
business management expert and author

How well do you manage your company’s books? Here are some basic tips that will make your bookkeeping easier.

  1. Choose Green Vendors and Suppliers
    Many green businesses are choosy about their partners. They prefer to use green products and work with vendors and suppliers who share their environmental goals.

    Evaluate the things you buy for your business. Can you find plastic-free parts or organic ingredients?

    Using these supplies may enable you to say your product is “made from sustainable materials” or “free of harmful chemicals.”

  2. Reuse and Repurpose
    How eco-friendly is your packaging? Can you reduce your packaging and use recycled bags and boxes? How about repurposing or recycling boxes, bags, or other packaging that you might otherwise throw out? Reusing and repurposing may also give you significant cost savings.

    And don’t forget to let customers know about your efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle. As this recent Business News Daily article points out, customers care about brands practicing sustainability.

  3. Get Certified
    Distinguish your business with a green certification. If you’re not certified but want to be, you have many options. Industries like construction and hospitality have green certification programs.

    Check with your industry and professional association to see if there is a certification program that’s right for you. provides a list of 38 green certifications for companies. You can also check with your state and local governments to see if they offer green business certification programs for small businesses.

  4. Perform an Energy Audit
    Many utilities and local governments offer energy audits or can connect you with organizations that do. An energy audit can help you reduce your energy bills and find incentives or rebates that can save you money as you save energy.

    Some changes, such as purchasing electricity from wind or solar suppliers, may save money and provide a powerful marketing message. Terms like “solar-powered” or “fossil fuel-free” will resonate with many customers.

  5. Let Your Customers Participate
    Just as people enjoy supporting environmentally responsible businesses, they like pitching in themselves. Consider planting a tree or donating to a local environmental project with a purchase of $50 or more. This may not be as expensive as you think; check out options on One Tree Planted or the Arbor Day Foundation.

    Create an event, such as a clean-up day at a local park, and have your customers sign up to join you. Collect email addresses so you can remind them as the day approaches and add them to your mailing or newsletter list. Encourage participation by providing incentives for customers to bring their own bags, coffee mugs, or bottles.

  6. Green Your Transportation
    Can you replace your car with an e-bike? Many states offer rebates or incentives for hybrid or electric vehicles.

    And don’t laugh off e-bikes. They may be ideal for many solopreneurs or small companies. Some are designed for business and include storage for equipment or supplies. E-bikes are much cheaper to buy, operate, park, and insure than cars. Even if weather limits e-bike use to half the year, that’s still a lot of savings.

  7. Tell Your Story
    Once you’ve started to make environmentally friendly improvements, let your customers know what you’re doing in an honest and transparent way.

    Add a page to your website with a statement about your green commitment and everything you do to achieve it.

    Look for opportunities in packaging, product descriptions, and social media to see if there is a way to incorporate phrases like:

    • “Sourced from sustainable materials.”
    • “Committed to green-business practices to protect the planet for future generations.”
    • “Thanks to our customers, we’ve been able to plant 100 trees in the last year.”

    Do you have a green certification? If so, put the certification on your website, email signature, vehicles, front door—anywhere consumers will see it.

  8. Get Professional Advice and Financial Assistance
    If you’re having trouble thinking of ways to make your business more environmentally friendly, reach out for help. Many municipalities have sustainability programs to help small businesses reduce energy use or waste production. Some even offer grants to help offset the costs of replacing equipment or improving buildings.

    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory provides a guide to help small businesses improve their energy efficiency. It covers everything from determining which improvements yield the biggest savings to finding grants and loans to help with local environmental projects.

While every small business is different, this list will help you get started “greening” your company. When you do, your decisions will benefit the planet and your bottom line. You’ll reduce your impact on the environment while saving money and earning the loyalty of appreciative customers.

For more tips for running and growing your small business, visit Index by Pinger.

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