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Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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Is It Important to Make Your Business Environmentally Friendly?

 

If you’re thinking about launching a business, you might question that business’s place in your community, and in your natural environment. If you care about sustainable business practices, or just want to keep up with the competition, you might consider the prospect of going green—immediately upon launching your business.

However, establishing those environmentally friendly practices so early on in your business isn’t necessarily the best move. You’ll need to consider the process, the advantages, and the disadvantages before pulling the trigger.

The Perks of Going Green

Let’s start by looking at the perks of a business going green:

  • Energy efficiency. For starters, many of your “green” upgrades will make your business more efficient, using less water, electricity, and other natural resources. That means your business will pay less in utility costs, ultimately giving you a positive return on your investment.
  • Legal and tax advantages. Depending on which upgrades you make, there may be tax advantages for making your business more environmentally friendly. For example, you could get a credit for achieving a certain standard for efficiency in your building, or get partial reimbursement for installing more efficient windows.
  • Good PR. Of course, your business will also get some good PR when you go green. Your clients and the general public will think more of your brand if you’re making an effort to positively impact the environment.

Ideas for Improvement

So what changes could you make to make your business more environmentally friendly?

  • Building and appliance upgrades. You can start by investing in building and appliance upgrades. Adding more and better insulation to your building will ensure it doesn’t lose as much heat or cooling potential, and investing in solar screens can help you block heat transfer even further. You can also upgrade your appliances, from water heaters to TVs, to make them draw less energy over time.
  • Waste reduction. Next, you can reduce the amount of waste your business produces. If you’re running a factory or industrial center, you’ll need to pay attention to how much pollution you produce. If you’re in a simple office, you’ll need to consider how much paper waste you’re producing. Limiting all forms of waste is key if you want to be sustainable.
  • Recycling. One of the easiest steps you can take is to incorporate more recycling into your business. Sometimes, that means integrating more raw materials that have been recycled in the past. Others, it means putting out more recycling bins for your employees and customers to use.
  • Sustainability initiatives and volunteerism. You can also look outside your business to find more sustainability initiatives. For example, you can volunteer with your employees to clean up litter, plant trees, or educate others about best practices for environmental friendliness. Being a loud voice for the positive impact of sustainability can help your brand as much as practicing those habits.

The Problem With Going Green at Launch

There are some problems with going green immediately at launch, however:

  • Initial costs. If you’re starting a business on a shoestring budget, going green could put an unnecessary burden on you. Investing in new appliances and building upgrades isn’t cheap, so you may have less money for more important business upgrades. Considering you won’t see a return on your investment for months, or even years, this may not be wise.
  • Foresight and improvement. It may be hard to predict what your business’s impact on the environment will be, making it hard to precisely offset or prevent that impact. For example, you may not realize how much paper you’ll go through or the ways your business may unintentionally pollute the environment. Accordingly, it’s often better to plan on making upgrades after your business begins operations.
  • Setting the bar. There’s also the prospect of setting the bar “too high” from the outset. A business that starts out reasonably efficient, then makes significant upgrades for further efficiency will be seen as making a noble effort. A business that starts out incredibly efficient but never changes may get less press, or be less impressive.

The Advantages

On the other hand, going green at launch could be advantageous. For starters, you could use your “green” status as a way to build initial awareness for your brand, or differentiate your company from your competitors’. Being environmentally friendly at launch saves time, so you can reap the advantages of a green approach faster. Plus, if you’re spending time and money upgrading everything anyway, it wouldn’t take much extra to ensure you’re in compliance with best practices for the environment.

It’s possible to go green before you launch, and in some cases, it’s even advantageous. However, make sure you’ve done your research, and be prepared for the true costs before you take the next steps in the process.

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