Sustainability has become the watchword of our age. And who can argue that seeking to meet our own needs without adversely affecting future generations isn’t a cause worth throwing our support behind? Yet, many small businesses still struggle to put sustainability into practice in a meaningful way.
If you fall back on either of the following two excuses, here’s reason to reconsider going green:
1. Environmental issues are for Big Business to solve. Sustainability has inspired a tidal wave of exciting green developments that range from recycling, renewable energy, and hybrid cars to the redesign of products, packaging, factories, and manufacturing processes. Intergovernmental efforts, public-private partnerships, and market incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are also an essential part of the equation.
In all of these efforts, businesses—large and small—play a vital, transformative role. It’s not size that matters, but identifying smarter ways to go green. Still not convinced? According to various industry research findings, companies with a proven commitment to the environment tend to outperform other companies.
2. I can’t afford to go green. Despite the incontrovertible importance of sustainability, many small businesses still struggle to justify an investment in green initiatives, because they perceive the efforts will generate added costs, not concrete business benefits. Green initiatives can make a quantifiable contribution to both the environment and your bottom line, that includes improvements in employee morale, customer loyalty, and brand image.
It’s a matter of scale and best practice. Individual industries have identified ways to benefit both the planet and the business. Consider the hotel industry’s approach to sustainability. Many large hotel chains and small independent boutiques have adopted the practice of asking guests to consider less frequent changing of sheets and towels. Reduced washing and drying saves energy and soap (good for the environment), decreases the cost of maintaining rooms (good for the hotel), and makes travelers feel they are making a valuable contribution (good for customers). Smart sustainability can be a win-win.
Vice-President for Environment, Health, and Safety
Want to improve the way you run your business? Entrepreneurs, academics, and consultants from diverse industries offer practical advice on a variety of topics each business day.
To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.