Magazine

Editor's Note


How hard is it to find environmentally innovative small businesses? Easier than we expected

Mention "Green Entrepreneurs," and often the business owners that spring to mind are those supplying us with organic food, clothing made of organically grown fabrics, and coffee cups made of recycled paper pulp. But when we started our special report on green companies, we found that entrepreneurs making eco-friendly consumer products are just the tip of the (melting) iceberg. Just as impressive—and, we suspect, far more numerous—are those whose businesses seem to have nothing to do with the environment but who have reconfigured their operations to be more eco-friendly (and, often, to save a significant amount of money). We wondered if we would find enough entrepreneurs who were using truly unusual tactics to make their businesses more energy-efficient.

I needn't have worried. First, we had Senior Correspondent Amy Barrett on the case, and once again I was reminded that she can find just about anyone, anywhere. Second, since when does it make sense to doubt the ingenuity of entrepreneurs? We found the head of a print shop who's using recycled restaurant grease to clean printing parts. A doggie day care that sends dog poop to the local utility, which uses it to make methane. A furniture manufacturer that, instead of paying for its sawdust to be trucked away, lets local farms use it as horse bedding. That's in addition to some solar and wind power conversions and, yes, a lot of double-sided printing.

These entrepreneurs are not environmental zealots. Bootstrapping a business seems to produce a natural aversion to waste and a very reasonable desire to save money. A number of them also said that by embracing sustainability, they hoped to set a good example for their kids. Come to think of it, that may be the biggest payoff of all.

Return to the BWSmallBiz August/September 2009 Table of Contents

Kimberly Weisul is editor of BusinessWeek SmallBiz .

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