There are enough of us who self-identify as “green” businesswomen that I feel confident this is not a false start, a trendy topic, or just an internet meme.
Green is here to stay, and if you want your business to succeed in the 21st century, I believe that you must take steps to encourage your company to become more socially responsible, more ethical, more sustainably-minded (measurably so), and more focused on reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Here are 6 ways that green businesses are making a difference:
1) Reducing waste streams
Green and eco-friendly businesses take advantage of recycled primary resource material to create their products. They also do their utmost to reduce their use of precious natural resources: by conserving paper, travelling less, focusing on e-delivery of documents, and taking a multitude of steps to “touch lightly on the earth”, these green-oriented companies and producers have a less intensive footprint when pursuing business activities.
2) Providing alternative options to LOHAS customers
Many conscious consumers take a good, long look at the “report card” for the business they’re researching; however, if they don’t like what they see, they leave and seek a greener option. Those who identify as green businesses, either through outside certification or through ongoing self-assessment and reporting, are proud to share their progress with the green sub-segment of the retail marketplace. LOHAS consumers are fairly well-educated, older, and are more inclined to spend their money only on companies that fit their values of sustainability, organic, handmade/locally-produced, quality goods, and they’re demonstrated to be willing to pay a premium to get those goods or services.
3) Focusing the conversation
Green businesses have something to talk about from methods, sourcing, allies, new developments, and an enthusiastic customer base. Green businesses might highlight the low environmental impact of their production, or they might focus on informing their customers about how they’re going green, or they could be very vocal about their efforts to be sustainable. By focusing blog articles, Facebook posts, tweets, e-newsletter blasts, events, or white papers on the ongoing conversion to being more green, they can consistently educate their client base on how they are living and breathing green values. It always sparks an interesting conversation.
4) Advocating for better information
The Prop 37 discussion in California was started, in part, by green businesses demanding more transparent labeling of available products. More informative labels mean better ways for consumers to make their final choices. When demand is strong for a detailed explanation of ingredients and how a product is actually made — from farm to table, or from forest to delivery, or from the earth to your hands — legislation gets pushed to have more thorough, more clear, and more standardized instructional labels. GMO labeling is just the beginning. State- or nationally-sanctioned cruelty-free, sweatshop-free, vegan, 100% organic, farmer’s gate, or sustainability indicators are sure to be on the way.
5) Pressuring “big business”
If the niche eco-friendly and ethically-minded section of the retail marketplace in the USA continues to grow at a 17% increase each year, big business will turn around and make global changes. Customers speak and big companies listen. If a mega-company can make a 10% reduction in their energy usage, or purchase millions of dollars of organic product, that really “moves the needle” for the national conversation. By consistently “voting with their wallets”, green consumers can change the opportunities and options available to them — to a massive and measurable level.
6) Increasing the market for Made in the United States
By reducing transport, shipping, storage, and delivery costs from international markets and focusing on products that are made directly in a certain neighborhood, city, state, or region, costs go down. Focusing on a Made in the USA process becomes more attractive, to both the producer and the consumer – and even if it doesn’t revolutionize the economy, it potentially provides income and stability to more US-based companies.
If you are seeking advice on how to become more green, I encourage you to find it by searching for a local eco-networking group, certification process, or green businesswomen’s association in your city. It is becoming easier (and more profitable) to find and connect with those who share the “clean and green” values, philosophy, and mission.
Carolyn Parrs says
Thanks Monica for writing this. For the last 10 years I have been helping green businesses launch and grow. Everything you said is true — and more! Green is here to stay. I look forward to the day when we don’t even have to say “green” anything. It’s just the way it is.
— Carolyn Parrs
PS: Monica, love to hear your voice on Women Of Green! http://www.womenofgreen.com