Going green for startups means focusing on being environmentally friendly or sustainable. This could manifest in various ways, such as using recycled materials, producing less waste, or investing in renewable energy sources.
However, it can be challenging for startups to go green. Many times, it’s hard to find the resources or workforce to dedicate to being more sustainable. Additionally, “going green” can often be more expensive than traditional methods, presenting a financial obstacle for small businesses.
Nevertheless, green business is highly beneficial for startups. For one, it’s becoming increasingly important to consumers that the brands they support are eco-friendly.
Sixty-six percent of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. Moreover, going green can help you save money in the long run by reducing energy costs and making your business more efficient.
This article outlines ten sustainable business practices to reduce your carbon footprint and make your startup more environmentally friendly. Some of these practices may be easier than others, but they’re all worth considering.
Benefits of Going Green for Startups
1. Reduced Waste Expenses
Changing to recycled materials can save you money in the long run. These products cost less than virgin (non-recycled) products because the recycled content has already been broken down and bleached, so it doesn’t require as much processing.
Using recycled products means diverting waste from landfills, reducing the amount of waste your startup produces, and reducing waste disposal costs.
2. Decreased Energy Costs
Green buildings use less energy, water, and resources than traditional buildings. That means you’ll save money on your utility bills every month. There are several ways to reduce your energy costs by going green. One of them is installing solar panels to tap into renewable sunlight energy. This renewable energy can help you cut down on energy costs consistently.
Another way to reduce your energy consumption is to invest in energy-efficient appliances. Energy-efficient appliances use less energy to operate, so they cost less. This can save you money on your energy bills and help to reduce your carbon footprint.
3. Improve Compliance
Part of being a responsible business owner is ensuring that your company complies with all the applicable laws and regulations. Depending on your industry, there may be specific environmental regulations that you need to comply with.
One of the benefits of going green is that it can help you meet these regulatory requirements. For example, if you’re required to reduce your carbon emissions, recycling and using renewable energy can help you do that.
4. Healthier Work Environment
Green business improves the health and well-being of the staff in several ways. For one, you’ll have cleaner air to breathe. This is especially important if your office or workspace is in an urban area with poor air quality. Indoor plants can also help filter the air and improve indoor air quality.
Additionally, sustainable practices create a relaxed environment for employees and help reduce their stress levels. This state is important because stress can lead to various mental and physical problems.
A study revealed that people working in green buildings were more productive than those in traditional buildings because they felt better mentally and physically because of the healthier environment.
5. Get Tax Credits
When you go green, several tax credits and incentives are available to you as a business. These tax breaks can help reduce your overall tax burden, so it’s important to understand what’s available.
Typical tax benefits include:
- Up to $1,500 in tax credits for energy-efficiency improvements
- Tax breaks for purchasing alternative fuel vehicles or using alternative fuels
- Tax deductions for donating used equipment or materials
- Reduced taxes for investing in renewable energy
6. Increase Investment Opportunities
Investors are always looking for environmentally friendly companies because it’s becoming increasingly important to consumers. This preference makes sustainable companies appear more credible and investment-worthy.
Going green is a great way to set your startup apart from the competition and make it more attractive to potential investors.
7. Build Brand Reputation
Do you know what’s good for business? Being socially responsible. In today’s climate, more and more consumers are interested in doing business with companies that care about more than just the bottom line.
When customers see that you’re taking steps to be more environmentally friendly, they’re more likely to associate your company with being responsible and conscientious. And that can lead to more customers and more business. So, it’s a win-win situation.
8. Gain a Competitive Advantage
Going green can help you gain a competitive advantage in several ways. For one, it can help you attract and retain top talent. Employees today, especially millennials, want to work for companies that are doing their part to make the world a better place. So you can take advantage of this trend.
Consumers care about your brand image too, and they are more likely to trust and support businesses that are environmentally conscious. That’s to say that going green can help you reach new markets and expand your customer base.
10 Sustainable Business Practices for Startups
1. Use Renewable Energy Sources
Startups have the unique opportunity to make a big impact on the environment by using renewable energy sources. This energy comes from natural resources that can be replenished, like the sun, wind and water.
Using renewable energy makes startups go green by reducing their carbon footprint. A startup’s carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gasses they produce. The fewer greenhouse gasses a startup emits, the less they contribute to climate change.
Solar power is the most popular renewable energy source for businesses; consider using it to run your office or factory. Solar power absorbs the sun’s rays through panels and converts them into electricity. This type of power is clean as it doesn’t produce any greenhouse gasses.
If you’re not ready to make the switch to solar power, you can still use renewable energy by purchasing green power from your local utility company. This approach supports the development of more renewable energy sources and reduces the amount of pollution from traditional power plants.
2. Cut Down on Paper Usage
Startups can go green by adopting paperless policies and technologies. This can help save trees, conserve water and energy, and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, paperless policies can help startups save money.
There are several ways startups can adopt paperless policies and technologies. One of them is to use electronic document management systems. These systems can help startups store, manage, and share documents electronically.
Google Drive is the most popular tool for managing electronic documents. It provides flexible storage options, centralized administration, and Vault for drive, which helps you manage users and file sharing. Other similar options include OneDrive and Dropbox Business.
Another way is to use electronic signatures. These signatures can help startups reduce the need for paper copies of documents. Some of the most popular e-signature software include DocuSign, Adobe Sign, and Proposify.
Finally, startups can use digital tools to promote paperless communication. Paperless billing and accounting systems will also go a long way to reducing paper waste.
3. Use Energy-Efficient Office Equipment
One way that startups can go green is by using energy-efficient office equipment. This sustainable practice can help reduce the startup’s carbon footprint and save money on utility bills.
To use energy-efficient office equipment, ensure that they are Energy-Star-certified. This certification means that the product meets strict energy-efficiency guidelines by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Besides this label, look for office equipment with power-management features. These features can help reduce energy consumption when the product is not in use.
Also, buy only the amount of office equipment that you need. Startups often only have a little space, so buying only what you will use is essential. Finally, educate employees on how to use energy-efficient office equipment properly. Training them will ensure that the products are used as intended.
4. Offer Remote Work Options
One way startups can go green is by offering remote work options. This business strategy can reduce the need for office space and help employees save on commuting costs and time.
Before offering remote work options, you must ensure that you have the right tools and systems in place to support remote workers. This support primarily includes communication and project management tools.
Software like Monday.com helps you plan, manage, and improve your business productivity. It features a set of customized spreadsheets where everyone in a team records the tasks they need to finish and updates them with status reports. Thus, it helps you ensure everyone is on the same page.
Even though collaborative tools give you control over the workflow, trust is key in remote work. You’ll need to trust your employees to get the job done, and they’ll need to trust you to give them the flexibility and freedom they need to do their best work.
5. Offer Green Transportation Incentives
If you want your employees to go green, you need to walk the talk. Make sustainable transportation options available to yourself and your executive team, and encourage everyone in the company to use them. The best way to encourage your staff to use green transportation is by offering incentives.
These incentives could mean providing a stipend for employees who bike to work or offering discounts on public transit passes. This is one of the sustainable practices that can help you save money on parking and gas, and it can also help you attract and retain top talent.
As you offer green transportation incentives, remember to make it easy for employees to find out about sustainable transportation options. Provide maps and info about public transit, bike routes, and walking paths. Also, provide amenities for sustainable commuters, such as bike storage and showers for employees who bike to work or preferred parking spots for carpoolers and electric vehicle owners.
6. Encourage Recycling
One way that startups can go green is by encouraging recycling. Using recycled materials help startups go green in several ways. First, it reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills. Second, it conserves resources by allowing materials to be reused. Third, it reduces pollution by reducing the need for new manufacturing. Finally, recycling creates jobs in the recycling industry.
The best way to encourage recycling is to educate your employees. Hold training sessions or send emails explaining why recycling is important and how to do it properly. Also, make it easy. Provide recycling bins and label them clearly. Then, encourage employees to recycle by offering rewards for doing so.
Of course, some things could be improved when encouraging recycling. One is putting all the responsibility on employees – it’s important to make recycling easy and convenient, as well as provide education on why it’s crucial.
7. Reduce Water Usage
It takes plenty of water in this technological era to create the products we use daily. High-tech manufacturing requires water for cooling and cleaning and growing the crops needed to make our food and clothing demands a lot of water as well. Consequently, water conservation is an essential sustainable practice for startups to go green.
Reducing water consumption helps the environment and saves startups money on their water bills. One way to reduce water consumption in your startup is by installing low-flow toilets, showerheads, and faucets. Fixing leaks promptly will also help to minimize water wastage.
If plants are a part of your curb appeal, consider using drought-resistant varieties, as they require less water to thrive. Finally, educate your employees about water conservation.
8. Create a Green Team
A green team is a group of employees tasked with coming up with ideas and strategies to reduce the company’s environmental impact. The green team is often responsible for research, planning, and implementing initiatives to make the company more sustainable. They can also serve as a resource for other employees, sharing information and best practices for going green.
To create a successful green team, set clear goals and objectives for the team to achieve. Then, recruit employees from diverse departments to get various perspectives.
Ensure the team has the resources to succeed, such as a budget and access to decision-makers. Finally, encourage employees to develop creative solutions and keep abreast of current sustainable practices applicable to your startup.
9. Partner With Green Suppliers
A green supplier is a business that provides goods or services that help another company reduce its environmental impact. These businesses could be renewable energy or recycling companies. Collaborating with a green supplier also sends a strong message to your customers and investors that you’re serious about sustainability.
To partner with green suppliers, you must first research to ensure you partner with a reputable and reliable green supplier. When you have a list of potential companies to work with, reach out to them to get quotes, and then you can compare prices and services.
After this step, negotiate payment terms, delivery schedules, and other details with the supplier. Then, set key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the partnership’s success. Examples of KPIs to track could be the percentage of recycled materials used or the amount of greenhouse gas emissions reduced.
10. Use Sustainable Packaging
One way to do green business is by using sustainable packaging. This packaging includes covers made from reusable or recycled materials. This means that it doesn’t end up in landfills and doesn’t damage the environment. This approach reduces the amount of waste your company produces. And it shows customers that you’re committed to sustainability.
There are several types of sustainable packaging. You can use recycled paper, cardboard, and plastics. Similarly, you can also use biodegradable materials like bamboo and cornstarch. But before choosing a packaging type, research the materials available to determine which will be most compatible with your product.
Next, find a supplier that sells the sustainable packaging you want, and order a few quantities first to test it before implementing it entirely in your business.
So, there you have ten excellent ways for your startup to go green and save the planet. It’s not as complicated as you might think, and in many cases, it can save your company money as well. Just create a plan and start today.