Updated: Apr 7
Happy Earth Day! Spring is at its lush apex here Eugene, Oregon, where ample rain has brought out a colorful succession of daffodils, cherry blossoms, violets, and tiny daisies (bellium). One of the things I love about small and microbusinesses is that the CEOs and decision makers are real people who live in and care about their communities. More people have started microbusinesses and gotten outdoors during the pandemic, meaning more people than ever are looking for ways they can keep our communities green and healthy for future generations. Here are five ways you can tap into your potential to help the planet. They might, simultaneously, help your business!
1. Green your workspace.
Many small and microbusiness owners work from home. Many also chose this path because they wanted more autonomy over their work environment. Did you know that green spaces promote mental and physical health? Choose ecofriendly landscaping, buy an indoor plant, or start a small garden. My hummingbird garden is great for me, not just the hummingbirds and the planet! If you work from home, it might save money long term to invest in a newer, more efficient HVAC system, or even solar panels. There may even be rebates, tax breaks, and steep discounts for installing a newer system, depending on where you live.
2. Stay informed.
Stay on top of trends. In addition to your industry trade journals and professional development, take a few minutes to read the headlines of centrist news sources like Reuters or the AP, or use a tool like All Sides to access news from various perspectives side-by-side. I also read tech and design news from magazines like Smashing and Wired, and business news from Forbes and the Harvard Business Review. Nielsen and Pew Research Center are some of my favorite places to keep up with public opinion and demographic trends, which can be so helpful in strategic business decisions. Times change, and successful entrepreneurs adapt quickly. For example, if my business sold food, this article from Nielsen might encourage me to offer more plant-based options!
3. Green your products (and promote them!).
Many small and microbusiness owners already use green products because they believe in them and their customers demand them. Wineries can offer biodynamic and organic wine, t-shirt designers can offer eco-friendly hemp or bamboo options. You may not be able to go 100% organic or carbon-neutral right away, but you can test new choices to see if they take off, as younger generations of consumers tend to be more concerned about the environment.
Don't forget to promote what you're already doing! If you use organic, sustainable, or local products already, be transparent and proud! Incorporate this into your website, social media, and other customer communication! People will enjoy that smoothie more if they know it's organic, and might even be willing to pay a bit more for a shirt that's pesticide-free and fair trade.
4. Green your transportation.
Gas-dependent companies are feeling the hurt right now, caused by international circumstances far beyond our control. By continuing to meet remotely, carpooling, cycling, walking, taking the train, or investing in an electric car, you and your business can be more resilient as well as more green.
5. Get involved.
Support an environmental nonprofit that shares your vision for a greener future. Money isn't the only way you can support your favorite cause. I take time to read the newsletters from organizations I support. Because I work on my own schedule, I can take time to make phone calls and write letters to advocate for issues I care about personally and professionally. Other small business owners and may have the flexibility to represent their communities on committees and councils. These community connections can also strengthen your community ties and improve your reputation as someone people want to do business with. Looking for a meaningful and engaging team building activity? Consider a monthly or yearly volunteer project that everyone on your small team supports and enjoys.
Embrace Your Uniqueness
These are only some ideas, based on my own experience and the incredible examples of my clients and business associates. I'm still taking small steps and doing what I can! For example, I work from home, but I don't have an electric car yet (driving my old Honda and saving up for that Tesla!). What's your favorite way to make a positive impact as a small business person or entrepreneur?