What Are the Benefits to Running Environmentally Friendly Businesses?
If you’re the owner of a small business, have you considered the advantages of being environmentally friendly? There might be some rewards you might not have considered. There are those that you probably immediately assume, like helping the Earth and climate. Others, though — like benefits to your business’ bottom line — might be less obvious.
If being an eco-friendly business is something that you care about, you want your customers to know that too. Promoting the fact that your small business is making a conscious effort to protect the environment will do several things for your business’ reputation: First, you will appeal to like-minded customers; people who care about the environment tend to want to support other people and businesses that do the same. When you make environmentally friendly changes (such as focus on recycling, using recycled materials, or making your processes more eco-friendly), it’s a great idea to let the public know.
If you want to sustain an eco-friendly business, one practice is to seek employees who are motivated to promote your values and find even more ways to be environmentally friendly. Businesses with highly-engaged employees who care about the company’s mission often have an easier time attracting new talent too. Having environmentally-conscious employees is more than just good PR though. When your people — specifically those who see the advantages of being environmentally friendly — are motivated by similar values, it will be easier to achieve your corporate environmental goals.
10 Ways to Build Your Eco-friendly Business
Here are some simple ways that employee behavior can help your business reap the benefits of being environmentally friendly:
Encourage employees to turn off lights when they leave a room, which will save energy and money.
Incentivize carpooling, cycling, walking or public transportation for employees to get to work. Depending on where you’re located, ride-sharing apps and websites can help you find and coordinate carpools. Some companies offer incentives like prizes or bonuses to employees who “clean commute” for a certain number of days in a time period.
If it’s feasible for your business, allow employees to telecommute (work remotely) when possible.
Offer subsidies for public transit passes as a company “perk.”
Request that employees turn off computers and unplug power strips when they leave. This could save significantly on energy use. By the same token, discourage screensavers. By setting monitors or laptops to enter “sleep” mode after a specific period of inactivity, you’ll save more energy than having computers displaying screensavers when not in use.
Here are suggestions for what you, as the business owner and employer, can do to encourage eco-friendly business on a company-wide level:
Provide dishes, silverware and glasses in the office so that employees can wash and reuse, rather than using paper or plastic.
Set printers for double-sided printing in order to save paper.
Provide a water cooler or filtration system in order to reduce employees’ consumption of bottled water.
Consider going paperless to the extent possible; by circulating employee memos, manuals and other materials online rather than using paper copies, you’re helping to go green for your business in a significant way. When you do use paper (because you’re bound to use some), try using post-consumer waste (PCW or recycled) options.
Buy green cleaning products. There are plenty of options for green cleaning supplies that reduce harmful substances and odors in the office.
Advantages of Being Environmentally Friendly
What are the benefits of being environmentally friendly? Are there disadvantages too? You be the judge. First, let’s take a look at some of the biggest benefits of being eco-friendly.
Employee health: In addition to attracting employees with similar values, an eco-friendly business can help to keep them healthy. If your business has access to a cafeteria or various snacks, adding healthy food options that are “greener” in production will also have positive health effects. Studies show that aside from the personal benefits of healthier employees, it also means fewer sick days and less lost productivity.
Consumer preferences: In an increasingly eco-friendly society, having an eco-friendly business matters to your customers. More and more consumers are looking at product labeling to see if what they’re buying has been manufactured according to eco-friendly practices or is recyclable. For many, this is a deciding factor as they make choices on how to spend their money. In fact, up to 72 percent of consumers age 15-20 have said they will pay more for products and services from companies with a strong social and environmental commitment. As you evaluate the benefits of being eco-friendly, this is no small thing. Being ahead of the curve (or on the curve) of overarching consumer preferences can give your business a substantial lift. And, of course, if you do decide to take this route, advertise it as much as possible. That could mean advertising on your website, signs in your stores or mentions on your product labels or social media platforms.
Business opportunities: “Sustainability” is more than a buzzword; it’s a practice that’s emphasized by lots of government entities. If your business has federal, state or local government contracts — or if you’re trying to obtain these contracts — you could have a larger and more lucrative market by offering eco-friendly products or services. More and more government procurement policies require that governments use contractors who are providing environmentally conscious services. The Green Procurement Compilation of the U.S. General Services Administration can help you determine how to meet federal guidelines for eco-friendly products and services.
Federal tax incentives: As if building your customer base isn’t enough, the federal government also offers significant incentives to environmentally-friendly businesses. The EPA requires manufacturers to adhere to certain regulations designed to prevent pollution, but if you’re putting actual environmental practices into effect, you can benefit from state and federal tax incentives.
In evaluating the benefits of being environmentally friendly, we have to also look at the detriments. In the short term, there could be initial investment costs and employee training, in addition to oversight to ensure that your processes and eco-friendly business practices are being followed companywide. However, those initial investments will pay off in the long term as you’re seeing the financial benefits.
Advantages of Being Environmentally Friendly: It Affects the Bottom Line
Sustainable. Green. Eco-friendly. No matter how you phrase it, the benefits of being environmentally friendly are undeniable. From attracting employees interested in eco-friendly business practices to opening the door to government contracts to the potential for tax incentives, the benefits of being eco-friendly can be huge for a small business owner. Getting started is just a question of taking that first step. You can start small (for example, consider lowering energy costs by installing LED bulbs) and increase your eco-friendly products and processes over time. If you’re ready to take the plunge into having your small business move head-on into the ways of environmentally-friendly businesses, we have some tips for choosing energy-efficient outdoor lighting for your business, and other suggestions. It will pay off in the long run!