Reason: More than ever, consumers are actively seeking out products and companies that show some connection to an earth-friendly philosophy. Small businesses that can make such a claim and/or serve a specific green niche can profit from this trend.
One fact in your favor: Smaller companies have an advantage over large ones in selling green products. Studies show that consumers naturally view small, local companies as being more enviro-friendly than multinational chains. Added benefit: Going green can help with recruiting. Studies show that more applicants— particularly younger ones—are seeking employers that can show an earth-friendly and people-friendly pedigree. Plus, good CSR (corporate social responsibility) can reduce turnover among current staff.
You don’t need to completely change your product line, marketing or philosophy. Here are three ways to go green on the cheap:
1. Change the terminology. Customers and applicants will be drawn to your “greenness” if you can successfully prove your company’s true interest in and support of policies and practices that leave a minimal environmental footprint, promote and encourage “sustainability” and instill social and eco-responsibility.
2. Publicize your practices in signage, ads and recruiting copy. If your firm buys green—purchasing sustainable products and setting goals for buying recycled, refurbished or used materials—let customers and job candidates know. (Only a third of the workers surveyed said they know what their company’s environmental policy is.)
3. Seek out recognition for green policies. Examples: More than 1,900 employers have earned a place on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the “Best Workplaces for Commuters” (see www. bwc.gov). Also, Ethisphere magazine publishes an annual list of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies.”
Online resource Find more eco-business tips and research award directories and tools at www.greenbiz.com/toolbox/index.cfm.