Regardless of whether you are creating a business plan for a new startup or you have already launched your operation, it makes sense to focus on going green. Many consumers are drawn to green businesses because of their own concern for the environment, so you may improve public image as a result.
In many instances, there is a financial benefit associated with taking various eco-friendly steps, such as by saving money on energy costs. Conscientious companies may also attract top talent and have an easier time retaining talent in some cases.
These are only some of the many important benefits that your business may experience when it is environmentally-friendly. While some businesses may launch as being green from the start, others may make gradual improvements in this area to achieve increasingly beneficial results over time.
These are some of the many green ideas that may work well in your business or that may inspire you to take a creative approach with your efforts.
Offer Green Products or Services
It may be difficult to outwardly portray that your company is environmentally-friendly if your products and services are not green. Identify aspects of production, shipping and more that are unnecessarily wasting resources, polluting the environment or having other negative impacts.
By adjusting how you generate a profit, you can dramatically improve your impact on the world around you.
Many companies have made great strides in this area.
- Impossible Foods Inc. produces delicious food products made entirely out of organic produce.
- Choose Energy is committed to helping residential and commercial energy customers locate great rates on green energy plans.
- WISErg produces an advanced machine that transforms food waste into high-quality, liquid fertilizer that is ideal for organic lawn care.
While providing green goods and services to customers is an essential component to operating an environmentally-friendly startup, another factor relates to business processes.
Umicore is a Belgian manufacturing company that has taken sustainable operations to the next level, and it has received international recognition for its efforts. Through improvements to operations, it now uses less energy and water to produce its green products. In addition, less pollution and waste are produced.
Another example is Natura Cosmeticos, a Brazilian cosmetics company. This is an international company that has been recognized repeatedly for its creative and innovative use of resource in the production of its products.
Take Advantage of Alternative Energy
Many companies today derive electrical power for operations from the grid, but some have turned to alternative and renewable energy sources for at least part of their needs. These sources include solar, wind and geothermal energy.
While this may require a solid financial investment up-front, it can pay off substantially over time by offsetting your regular utilities expenses.
Some companies even go so far as to produce enough energy through their own efforts to sell energy back to the provider.
Essentially, these companies produce more than 100 percent of the energy that they need for operations. Some of these include Whole Foods, Dannon, the Environmental Protection Agency, Deutsche Bank, Kohl’s and others.
Hire a Remote Team
If you are focused on going green with your startup, it is important to look at the impact that your staff will have on the environment. Each person that you hire in-house will need to commute back and forth to work each day. This generates a tremendous amount of pollution unnecessarily.
By hiring a remote team, you can address your staffing needs while reducing the impact that this will have on the environment.
Many large corporations have remote workers, such as customer service agents who work from remote locations overseas. However, there are also many smaller companies that have effectively taken advantage of a remote workforce.
For example, Virtual Law Partners is a law firm that only offers legal services remotely, and its lawyers may work from any desired location. Upworthy is an up-and-coming media company that allows its team to work from any location as well.
Its workers may move around frequently, work from their living room or enjoy any other work environment that they desire.
Printing documents is a traditional aspect of business in many industries, but it is incredibly wasteful. In addition to wasting a tremendous amount of paper and contributing to deforestation, it also wastes ink, energy and more.
Many companies today have adopted a paperless work environment, and this is one essential idea for your startup to consider from day one.
You may be familiar with numerous service providers and stores that have gone paperless. For example, your bank may no longer mail a monthly statement to you. Instead, you may receive a notice that the statement is available online.
When you shop at many retail stores, you are asked if you want a receipt emailed to you or if you want a paper receipt. The receipt is not automatically printed.
These are only some of many examples of how businesses have used digital technology to reduce printing waste.
Recycling is an obvious step to going green, but there may be more ways to recycle than to gather aluminum cans and paper. Consider how your customers will dispose of the products that you sell when they are no longer useful or desired.
By taking this step, you can move beyond in-house recycling and help your customers make smart environmental decisions as well.
One company that has initiated this type of program is Crayola. It accepts used markers from its customers and turns them into eco-friendly fuel. Crocs accept donations of its used footwear if it is still in decent condition. These shoes are then shipped overseas to those in need.
If you need to get rid of a pair of heavily-used Nike shoes, you can return them to the company so that they can be repurposed into a wide range of athletic surfaces. MAC Cosmetics accepts empty makeup containers at its retail stores or by mail. If a customer returns six containers at the same time, they receive a free lipstick.
If your startup produces products rather than provides services, examine how you can create this type of recycling or repurposing program to better serve your customers and to protect the environment at the same time.
Making your startup more environmentally friendly has numerous benefits for your business and for the environment. You can see that many companies have already made great strides in their processes and operations.
By exploring steps that other companies have successfully taken to go green, you may be inspired to improve your operations in various ways as well.