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It’s all good and well starting a business, but sometimes it’s worth keeping in mind whether that business is going to have a net-positive impact on the world, or a net-negative impact. How it might inflate your bank balance should not be your only consideration!
Most businesses, for example, do more harm to the environment than good. While they might not care about this fact, they may come to regret it — more and more people are electing to give their money to companies who express consideration for the natural world, and among the young, it’s a major factor when it comes to deciding whether or not to make a purchase. So there’s merit in having green, eco credentials through and through. Below, we take a look at how you can develop a business that has green running through its veins, green in every aspect of its operations.
First thing’s first — you’ll need to come up with a specific business idea You can’t start a company that’s simply “green”! That process, which would involve throwing eco-policies onto a business that may or may not be suited for it, would be like reverse engineering. It’s much easier to build from the ground up, rather than the top down. So have a think about which type of environmental issue you want to fix, and start from there. Looking at environmentally friendly alternatives for existing products and services is a good place to start, and then go from there.
Check Your Credentials
It’s much easier to set up company-wide eco-friendly policies if they’re already part of your life. If you’re not green in your personal life, then it makes little sense to try to sell a greener lifestyle to other people — it’s a little disingenuous. There are enough people trying to profit off the shift to a greener lifestyle, another one is not needed. In any case, it’s always recommended that you start a company from a point of passion, no matter what type of business it is. If you’re not passionate about green culture, then it’ll be best to try something else.
You could do everything correctly when it comes to the environment when it comes to your in-house operations, yet still have a negative impact on the environment. That’s because a company is more than just what’s happening inside its four walls — there are suppliers and other organizations to think about. If you’re getting your products, or an aspect of your products, from a company that doesn’t look after the environment, then you’ll be undermining your eco credentials. There’ll be no shortage of other companies you can select to work with, so make sure that you’re doing your research on their approach to the environment before you agree to work with them.
At the Office
Your aim, as a green, environmentally-friendly company is to have as little impact on the natural world as possible. You’re aiming to be eco-neutral, or perhaps even eco-negative, which means you give more to the natural world than you take. Of all the aspects of your business, perhaps the most energy intensive is going to be your office space. It takes a lot of energy to keep a large space warm or cool, every single day. That’s why it’s important to work hard to keep your office as energy-efficient as possible. This will be easier if you’re in charge of designing and building your office, as that’ll allow you to build earth-friendly energy practices into the space from the ground up. If you’re not, you’ll want to include eco-friendly practices into your office, such as turning off lights, computers, saving paper, and so on.
Work From Home
Of course, the fewer people there are in the office, the less energy you’ll be consuming. As such, why not look at introducing a ‘work from home’ program with your employees? All the research so far suggests that it there’s no downside when it comes to things like productivity and feeling part of the company, providing there is some face to face contact. Of course, there’ll be times when people need to work in the office (some workers prefer it to working from home anyway). Even this, however, doesn’t need to have a negative impact on the environment. You can initiate a carpooling program, for instance, so that instead of having four private vehicles making their way to your office, there’s just one. You’ll have just cut your commuting carbon footprint by a huge percentage, and you’ll also be fostering a connection between employees, too. You may also consider installing a bike storage unit at your site, too, so that people are encouraged to cycle to work.
Packaging the Items
Your products might be bona fide environmentally-friendly, but what about the packaging that you’re sending them in? It’s all good and well having an eco-friendly product, but all the benefits will be lost if you’re sending the item wrapped in single-use plastic, which is one of the most damaging things for the environment. Instead, look at resealable plastic bags for your packaging. Your products will arrive safe and sound, and your customers will be able to use the packaging again and again. Just make sure you include a note in the delivery, with some ideas on how they can use the packaging for other purposes.
Sending to Customers
As well as your packaging, you’ll want to think about your shipping, which might be the source of your company’s most substantial carbon emissions. It’s not so good to develop your green credibility, only to send your item thousand of miles across the world! Of course, you’ll need to get your products to your customers, and, overall, you’ll make a positive contribution to the world, but you’ll do more good if you charge slightly more for packaging if it’s beyond a certain distance from your warehouse, and give the money directly to a carbon offsetting organization.
Educate Your Audience
Everyone who becomes a customer will, naturally, be interested in environmentally friendly products and practices. So why not use your platform as a way to educate your audience about more eco-initiatives? For example, you could use your company’s blog as a way to inform your readers about all the ways they can keep their carbon footprint to a minimum, or the projects they can support in order to nudge the world in the right direction. This’ll have a mutually beneficial impact, for your company and the world — you’ll be telling people how to live more in accordance with the planet, and driving more traffic to your website. It’s a win-win situation.
A Larger Purpose
There’s something suspect about companies who talk on and on about how green they are, but which never seem to partner or connect with other organisations or give back in any other way. They’re happy to make money from the shift to greener products, but that’s where their interest stops. But not your company! To boost your credentials even further, look at giving back in other ways. You can have monthly volunteer days, where you and your staff leave the office and do something that helps the planet, like picking up rubbish from the beach. You could also dedicate a portion of your profits to charities that are doing the most to help and protect the environment.
There’ll come a time, probably pretty quickly, when you need to hire staff. All companies should ensure that anyone they bring on board fits with their wider company culture, but it’s especially important if you’re running a green business. What you do is secondary; the main purpose is to make the world a more environmentally friendly place. You can’t achieve great things without people who wholeheartedly believe in the cause. When it comes to hiring, therefore, you’ll want to check that you’re bringing on board socially conscious individuals, who are looking to work as part of a team to achieve something bigger than themselves.
We’re understanding more and more about what’s good for the planet, and, more importantly, what isn’t. As you go through the process of running your business, you’ll want to keep abreast of all the latest developments in the eco world. It could be that one of the things you do isn’t as good for the environment as previously thought. Subscribing to the best environmental blogs will help to keep you up to date.
Limiting the Damage
Finally, keep in mind that there are ways to undo your good work. If there’s an energy conference in, say, Europe, it’ll be better if you don’t go — simply getting there and back would use up your allotted “allowance” of the earth’s resources for a year. It would be a bit ridiculous to start a company that wants to improve the world and then end up doing more damage than most other people! Look at your practices, and make sure there’s nothing that would compromise your credibility. Even if no-one else found out, you’d know!