It’s almost Earth Day. Do you know where your planet is?
One of the problems people have when it comes to climate change is many do not think that their personal, individual actions make a difference. In the face of a warming planet, chaotic weather patterns, and rising CO2 levels, it can seem that there is little that a regular person can do.
Fortunately, you are not a regular person. You are an entrepreneur. It is in your DNA to make a difference. And, because you do in fact run a business, your footprint and imprint are bigger. You use and control more resources, you have more impact (both for good and ill), and you can influence more people (customers and employees for starters).
What you do does in fact make a difference.
Now maybe you think that I am going to guilt trip you about the state of the planet and the fate of the Paris Accords, or that I am going to appeal to your idealistic, do-gooder nature. While I certainly can do that, let’s not because, to bastardize an old saying, there really are two kinds of entrepreneurs in the world:
► The first is the idealist. This is the person who chucked it all because she believed so much in her vision that she couldn’t help but start a business. This entrepreneur believes – nay, knows – that she makes a difference in the world. Richard Branson is this type of entrepreneur.
► The second is the realist. This is the guy who stared a business because he saw a great market opportunity. He too had a dream, a dream of a fat bank account. Yes, he is also a visionary, but of a different sort. Jeff Bezos may fall into this latter category.
If the former describes you, then there is no point in me wasting ink (or pixels!) telling you to “do the right thing” because you probably already are. Instead, let’s discuss why it makes economic sense to green your business (because it does.) The good news is that being more environmentally friendly is both good for the earth and also good for your business.
These days, you can make green by going green.
Reusing and recycling saves you money: There are plenty of ways to encourage your team to go green, and all of them make financial sense for your business. They can save you money. You can
► Reuse, recycle, print less, refill ink cartridges and go paperless
► Save on energy costs by buying Energy Star certified goods
► Install timers so that equipment and lights go off at night
Healthier work environments work better: According to the Green Business Bureau, there is a 20% decrease in number of sick days for companies that actively promote a healthier workplace.
There are tax benefits to going green: For example, in many states, businesses who use solar energy are eligible for special tax deductions.
Green products are quite popular. One need only look at the boom in organic foods and products to realize that there is a lot of money to be made in this sector. That green products generally go for a premium should not be lost in the equation.
Going green will boost employee morale: Having a green workplace is increasingly an important consideration for employees. In-demand millennials especially will appreciate your efforts.
It’s good branding: Telling the world all the things your business does to keep things green is very attractive to many consumers. It’s good for business.
So go ahead, go green. Climate change is one of those rare issues that allows you to do well by doing good.
Steve Strauss, @Steve Strauss on Twitter, is a lawyer specializing in small business and entrepreneurship and has been writing for USATODAY.com for 20 years. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: TheSelfEmployed.