It’s Easy Being Green

It's easy being green, and it isn’t just good for the environment. It’s good for your business too. Seventy-one percent of Americans consider the environment when deciding where to shop. So if your customers don’t see you as a green business, they may look elsewhere. So how do you go green? It’s not as difficult as you might think. And you can start small and build. Here are some ideas and resources to help your small business green up.

Green Defined

What does it mean to be green? Simply put, green businesses meet the needs of their customers while protecting the natural environment. It can be as simple as changing to more energy-efficient light bulbs or recycling all the cardboard you get. But it can also include offering environmentally-friendly products or installing solar cells on your roof.  There’s even an employee component to it. Green businesses conserve their human resources by using socially responsible management practices like ensuring safe working conditions.

Ways to Green Up

You don’t need to break the bank in order to make your business greener. Here are some low-cost ideas to consider:

  • Green Billing – Look for ways to reduce your business’ paper consumption. Promote electronic bill payment to your customers. Email the bill rather than sending a paper copy. Ask for paperless billing from your own suppliers as well.
  • Green Commuting - Offer small subsidies to employees who use public transportation to get to work. Provide a safe place for employees to park their bikes while at work. Consider whether some staff could telecommute. CommuterChoice.com can help employers reduce costs and retain good employees using green-friendly employee programs.
  • Green Certification – Let consumers know your products/services are green by getting certified by an independent, third party. That allows you to put their logo on your products and promote it in your marketing materials. Here’s a list of federal and non-government certification programs.
  • Green Audit – Have an energy audit done on your business. You may find that replacing some weather stripping can help to reduce your air conditioning bill this summer. See if there’s a program in your state that offers free or low-cost programs.
  • Green Funding – You can offset the cost of green programs with rebates, grants or low-cost loans. The U. S. Department of Energy funds the DSIRE program. It identifies who provides incentives that support renewable energy. Just click on your state and you’ll get a list of sources.

For More Information

The Small Business Administration offers a number of free resources. One of the most comprehensive is their Green Business Guide. It includes more ideas on going green, funding available for green businesses, and marketing the green way. There are also some case studies of businesses and how they were able to go green and help their communities.

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