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How to Start and Run a Green Business

Posted by Anonymous

Is your product or service eco-friendly?

Today's society has become increasingly aware of the human impact on the environment and, as a business owner operating within this society, there is really no way to avoid your environmental responsibility. Consumers who are concerned about their own carbon footprint are taking the "greenness" of a company into consideration when making their purchase decisions. As a result of this, companies must adjust their business practices in order to stay at the top of their game in the marketplace.

To begin your company's eco-friendly makeover you must first assess the impact of your product or service. Do you feel that what you're putting into the marketplace has a positive or negative effect on the environment? If you feel your product can help the environment, you're in good shape because it is a marketing strategy in and of itself and you can really play this up to benefit your company. On the other hand, sometimes there is a demand for products or services that are not necessarily environmentally friendly. If your business falls into this category, do what you can to limit the directly negative effects and then really focus on making the day-to-day operations of your company as green as possible. If consumers see that you are taking action in the areas that you can improve on your efforts can really go a long way.

Get Certified

Once you've decided the best ways for your particular business to become more ecologically savvy, you might need a little help in initiating the changes. There are many third party organizations that specialize in certifying businesses for maintaining a standard level of environmentally friendly business practices. These companies can provide you with guidelines and criteria to help you determine if you're meeting some general requirements. Green Seal, for example, is an organization that will evaluate the eco-friendliness of a wide range of businesses. Their business categories include:

  • Construction materials, equipment and systems

  • Facility operations, maintenance and services

  • Hospitality, lodging and food services

  • Home products and services

  • Office products and communications

  • Personal care and consumer packaged goods

  • Transportation and utilities

(For more information visit www.greenseal.org)

Another example is Energy Star, which was originally a US government program but is now the international standard for energy efficient consumer products. Once you've met the criteria for any of these organizations you become certified and have the right to showcase their eco-label to let consumers know that you're taking environmental responsibility. Energy Star certification even provides both consumers and businesses with federal tax credits and rebates. (For more information visit www.energystar.gov).

Comply with Environmental Regulations

Part of becoming certified means complying with environmental regulations maintained by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA regulates chemicals and protects human health by safeguarding the natural environment, which includes:

  • Air

  • Water

  • Land

  • Endangered species

  • Hazardous waste

The EPA's enforcement powers include fines, sanctions and other legal measures, which are sometimes delegated to each state. To avoid any legal action become familiar with all federal and state regulations that might affect your business specifically. The EPA Small Business Gateway website (www.epa.gov/smallbusiness/) provides you with a one-stop-shop for information on how to comply with their rules and regulations as well as contact information for whom to call with any questions or concerns.

Adjust your Day-to-Day Business Practices

The EPA can help you with your big picture concerns, but what can you do to help limit your company's impact on a day-to-day basis? A great way to watch your carbon footprint is to regulate what goes on in your work environment everyday. It can be difficult to monitor the amount of wasteful behavior going on, and when it is something that is taking place everyday it can be environmentally detrimental as well as COSTLY! Here are some ways to help take control of your workplace's environmental conduct:

Buy Green Products

Use materials that are:

  • Recycled/recyclable

  • Non-toxic

  • Energy efficient

Recycle, Reduce Reuse

  • When printing, use both sides of the paper.

  • Have recycle bins readily available so people are not tempted to throw things away for convenience sake.

  • When using legal or note pads, write on both sides of the paper.

  • If you have more than one office, implement an interoffice mailing system so you can reuse envelopes that are going back and forth.

Energy Efficiency

  • Put lights on timers and censors so that they are only being used when needed.

  • Replace light bulbs with CFL bulbs (they use 2/3 less energy)!

  • Use Energy Star approved appliances.

Water Conservation

  • Use the best available technology.

  • Have a water audit done by a local water agency. These are often performed for free and can save your company money by reducing water use and its associated costs.

  • Minimize run-off

Work with Responsible People

As a company you can make all the adjustments in the world, but in the end, we are all guilty by association. The quickest way to negate your efforts is to be associated with someone who does not uphold the same standards that you require of yourself. So, if you work with vendors, make sure they are making environmentally conscious efforts as well; and if you have a janitorial crew, check to see that they are using eco-friendly products. These high expectations should have a ripple effect and cause more and more companies to take responsibility.

Marketing

Getting your company's name out into the marketplace used to require a lot of paper product for the distribution of flyers and mailers. Not only was this practice extremely wasteful, but it has become very ineffective because people often recognize flyers and mailers as junk mail and toss them out without even looking at them. Viral and web-based marketing saves trees, is virtually free and is proven to be much more effective than the paper-based marketing of yesterday. Today's business minded people spend almost their entire days with access to email, so marketing that can reach people via that particular avenue is extremely efficient.

The information outlined above is just the tip of the iceberg when initiating an environmental makeover and there are countless sources to help guide you on this journey. Taking responsibility for our own business practices is an important step in helping to conserve the planet and we should encourage and expect the same conscientiousness from everyone we work with.

 

 

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