Greening Your Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 16, 2006

You might think that it’s impossible for a small business to think green, but that’s simply not true. At Clif Bar we started five years ago by taking small steps and asking questions, and now we are working on larger systemic changes. Here are some insights we’ve gained along the way:

1. You must embrace the vision of sustainability, and commit to a long journey of changing the way you do business.

2. You can only manage what you measure. Understand your business as an ecosystem and take note of your full environmental impact across the supply chain.

In our case, we hired an ecologist and created a "sustainability team" to help us understand our impact on the environment. With metrics in place, we were able make measurable improvements across our business, including our transition to recycled materials and organic ingredients, and our reductions in energy use, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and solid waste.

3. Educate your employees on sustainable practices. Guide and support them in their efforts. Find regular ways to share news about your progress.

4. Become partners with others. Moving toward sustainability is an ongoing process of learning and sharing. Work with both non-profit and for-profit business partners to find mentors and to mentor others.

5. Be patient. Changing the way you do business doesn’t happen overnight.

Every business has unique and powerful ways that it can contribute to the health of the planet. For us, we are nourishing the planet by making healthy, delicious organic food. What will it be for your business?

Elysa Hammond
Ecologist, Clif Bar & Co
Berkeley, Calif.

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