Will going green put your business in the red?

Joel Coleman, who owns and runs a photo gallery small business on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, explains some simple, cost-effective steps that any environmentally aware business owner can take to do business a little greener.

Joel Coleman, who owns and runs a photo gallery small business on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, explains some simple, cost-effective steps that any environmentally aware business owner can take to do business a little greener. 

During start-up and management of my business, Saltmotion, my ethos has always been: if you can’t make it green, make it last. From the choice of lighting, packaging and frames, to gift vouchers (100 per cent plantable), receipts and paper, we try hard to make sure the business enjoys the natural world while causing the least harm to it.

If you’re seeking to introduce a little environmental awareness into the running of your business, the first key point is to not be fooled by ‘green’ marketing. Many companies are playing the ‘green’ card to attract customers, but just because a company promotes something as being green, does not mean it actually causes minimal harm to the environment. For instance I have seen PVC plastic gift cards marketed as ‘green’ because they can be re-used. Yes, technically they can, but human behavior suggests that very few people are going to re-charge a used gift card and give it to someone else. Below are some basic steps that any business owner can take now to do business a little greener – without breaking the bank.

1. Lead by example
This is simple. Don’t buy plastic water bottles for the staff fridge, get a re-usable filter, ask the local take-away restaurants to provide lunch on a plate that can be returned rather than using disposable packaging, take your own mug at the local coffee shop to avoid take away cups. Lead by example and your staff will follow.

2. Encourage your employees to actively assist in the company’s values when it comes to the environment
If an employee is capable of raising issues regarding the environment using your company’s social media pages or blog, then by all means give them that voice. While the issues may have nothing to do with your product or service, your customers will appreciate the fact that you care and your staff will feel more involved.

3. Don’t try and be perfect
You can’t achieve this. Just being human means you will have some impact on the environment. What you are trying to do here is aim at being a zero impact business, but recognising that the journey is a long one and every step counts, no matter how small.

4. Follow a simple recycling program
Start recycling your products, materials and goods from day one. Make your recycling program so simple that even a four-year-old can understand how to do it.

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