Trends in Small Business Sustainability
From the youth climate strikes, to the Green New Deal, to the preparations for the United Nations’ Climate Summit in September, there is no debating that “Climate Action” has made its way into all sectors and industries — including large and small businesses alike.
This has sparked a change in the way entrepreneurs think about their business models. Owners are no longer asking, “How can I get the biggest bang for my buck?” but rather, “What is the environmental impact of these choices?” Consumers are demanding sustainability from the companies they support, and business owners are responding in a number of ways.
Where does your organization fit in, and how are you performing?
Here, we’ve identified three of the biggest trends in sustainability amongst small business.
It’s no secret that plastic pollution has become an enormous problem. Whether you live on the coast, in a big city, or in a small town, the effects of microplastics are pervasive. On social media, the recent Greenpeace #IsThisYours? Campaign aims to prove that single-use plastic packaging is becoming a global issue, and wants to hold the corporate polluters accountable.
The biggest way in which small businesses are fighting this problem is by switching up their packaging. Brown paper bags are replacing plastic bags. Discounts are given for reusable bags. Refillable cups or containers are being accepted at more and more locations. Plastic straws are no longer served, or are only served upon request. Thinking about using styrofoam? Might as well close your doors now because this dangerous, ozone-depleting product is a thing of the past.
Sustainable packaging also offers you the chance to offer more products. Reusable bags, water bottles, and ziplock bag replacements are hot items that could sport your logo and be sold as merchandise, therefore sparing the environment and improving your business.
While plastics are polluting our oceans, shipping and transportation are heating our planet up at an unprecedented pace. Food items such as bananas and avocados that we eat year round are almost exclusively grown outside of the borders of the United States. Other domestic items, such as flowers and almonds, are grown almost exclusively in the warm climate of the west coast which adds to the carbon footprint of those on the east coast.
Small businesses are turning to their local farmers and producers for good reason. By limiting the distance their goods must travel, they are limiting the amount of carbon their business is responsible for. They are also cutting back the costs of transportation while investing their earnings right back into their own community. Locally sourcing is not only good for a sustainable environment, but a sustainable local economy.
Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose
“I don’t think outside of the box, I think of what I can do with the box.” - Anonymous
Retailers like IKEA and the Container Store thrive on a business model that implores us to want to buy all brand new furniture, appliances, decor, and more. But with so many products being tossed aside after a short life-span, the waste builds up.
Sustainable business owners are tackling this issue by sourcing from auctions and going-out-of-business sales where unwanted goods are sold at steep discounts. Organizations like Build it Green in New York City collect materials from demolition or renovation, and reintroduce them back into the local market for a much lower price. These options are especially helpful for a new business still trying to get off their feet and out of the red. Repurposing invites environmentally conscious business owners to be creative, innovative, and sustainable.
Want to do more?
Check out this link which lists sustainability-focused small businesses across the United States. Are you a similar entrepreneur, and unsure how to earn publicity? Talk to Climate Social today about how we can build your brand in the digital world to make sure potential customers know that you’re in business for good.