How Small Businesses Can Recognize Earth Day

Sustainability: How Small Businesses Can Recognize Earth Day

If you’re in the habit of acting environmentally responsible in your personal life, chances are good you’re honing the same practices as a small business owner.

This Earth Day is a good time to take heed of your sustainability efforts and identify ways to further protect and preserve the world’s resources and environment as you run your business.

It was 1970 when Earth Day was begun to “diversify, educate, and activate the environmental movement worldwide.”

“Today, over 50 years later, the earth still needs our support, perhaps even more than ever,” says consulting firm Great Forest Sustainability Solutions.

Whether it’s a planned activity or just a spotlight on your eco-friendly policies and initiatives, here are ideas on how your small business can mark this year’s Earth Day.

Why It Matters

While each business needs to carve its unique path to sustainability, it’s important that you do so – not only for the global efforts to preserve the earth but because your customers care.

“If you’re running a small business, then you might think your environmental impact is inconsequential. But the people buying your products don’t see it that way,” writes James Chin Moody in a GreenBiz article.

In a consumer survey by shipping company Sendle, more than half (57%) said they would change their shopping habits to help reduce their environmental impact.

Further, 77% told the survey they think it’s important that a product be sustainable and environmentally responsible. Nearly 71 percent said they had set goals to purchase more sustainable products in the future.

Engage Employees Virtually

If gathering for an in-person activity isn’t feasible due to the pandemic, look for a virtual Earth Day event to join.

Or, ask employees to do one “green act” on that day or the week of Earth Day.

“It can be as simple as switching off the lights for one hour, going through their homes to set aside items for donation or recycling, or using a cloth rag instead of paper towels,” says Great  Forest Sustainability Solutions. “Every act that reduces waste counts.”

Another idea would be a virtual spring-cleaning event, an eco-friendly gesture that could also help your community.

“Encourage workers to go through their homes to set aside reusable items in good condition that can be donated for reuse,” suggests Cultivating Capital in its Sustainability Guide for Small Businesses. “The pandemic has struck disadvantaged communities hard. The need is greater than before.”

Do A Community Cleanup

Environmentalists say small group cleanups can also have a positive impact on the community.  

Check to see if there are any organized volunteer cleanup events in your area on Earth Day. If not, consider organizing a volunteer cleanup day for you and your staff.

“For us to make global change, we must have local action,” says Jake Rubenstein, manager of The Great Global Cleanup at the nonprofit Earth Day organization.

He advises checking first with local government before organizing a cleanup at a public location.

Support Local, Green Vendors

If possible, shift more of your business purchases to support local vendors.

“Whether it’s your office purchases, your business cards, or the caterer that you use for business lunches, supporting local vendors is an important way to keep money circulating within the local economy,” says Cultivating Capital’s Sustainability Guide.

Also, look closer at your current suppliers to make sure they’re aligned with your sustainability values.

“Develop a supplier policy to screen your suppliers for positive social and environmental impacts,” the guide says. “For example, look for certifications such as B Corp, Green Business, or Fair Trade certifications for the businesses and products that you work with and choose those over their non-certified counterparts.”

Be Socially Responsible

Adopting more sustainable and socially responsible practices means your business is contributing to what’s called the “triple bottom line.”

“The triple bottom line shifts the focus of a business so that it’s not just on profits, but on generating profits in a way that is better for both people and the planet,” says the Cultivating Capital guide.

“Your social and environmental responsibility go hand in hand. That’s why operating as a socially responsible company can have an impact.”

One Day, Year-Long Efforts

Whether it’s with a one-day activity or a re-commitment to year-long efforts, use Earth Day to recognize the role you and your small business plays in global sustainability and take the opportunity to plan to do more.

“No matter where you are on the green spectrum, you should take advantage of the attention Earth Day generates because it sets the tone for the rest of the year,” advises the Great Forest Sustainability Solutions blog.