I don’t know about you, but when I started my business I wanted to make money AND do some good. The idea of leaving the world a better place has always appealed to me.
As business owners, we can, indeed, make a difference -- and so many entrepreneurs are doing just that. As we think about financial profitability, we can also consider the kind of environment we want to leave for our children. Fortunately for our planet and our bottom line, success and sustainability do coexist! This month at QB Community, in celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd, we’re excited to be featuring entrepreneurs who act responsibly toward the environment -- while also making money.
Consumers are aligning their values with their purchases more than ever. In fact, 78% of consumers in the U.S. say they feel better when they buy products that are sustainably produced. According to an international study conducted by Unilever, an untapped opportunity of more than $1 trillion exists for brands that make their sustainability credentials clear. How? Because consumers will pay more for responsibly-produced products.
In its 2015 Global Corporate Sustainability Report, Nielson found that “66% of global consumers say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable brands—up 55% from 2014.” And the number of Millenials who say they’ll pay additional dollars for green products is even higher at 73%. That’s nearly three-quarters of consumers aged 22 to 37 voting with their wallets for responsibly-produced goods! Savvy business owners are paying attention to this group’s buying habits as they reach their peak purchasing power -- these are the Millenials, after all, the super Internet users who research before they buy more than any generation before them.
The demand for eco-consciousness in business may be accelerating now, but the trend isn’t new. Socially responsible stocks have been outperforming the S&P 500 for decades, and more huge corporations like Walmart and General Motors are committing all the time to using only renewable energy. Eco-entrepreneurship is on the rise with sites like StartSomeGood and Indiegogo’s Community Projects section dedicated to helping socially- and environmentally minded entrepreneurs fund their projects, while organizations like Pledge 1% provide small business owners with the tools to create a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plan that works for them.
So, what’s in it for you, the small business owner?
A loyal customer base who shares their love of sustainably-produced brands on social media, a good feeling of knowing your carbon footprint isn’t Godzilla-sized -- and don’t forget the tax credits! Businesses can receive tax credits for investing in energy-saving infrastructure and green building of their workplace. (Learn more about how these credits work here.)
If office construction is beyond the scope of your venture, know that greening your business can take many forms, big or small. It can be as simple as installing a high-efficiency light bulb in your office or drinking your morning coffee out of a mug instead of a paper or plastic cup.
We are inspired by our member eco-entrepreneurs like Jennie Nigrosh, whose reusable dry-cleaning bag business is keeping 300 million pounds of plastic out of the landfills each year and clothing designers Carly Megan and Hanna Broer, who both use sustainably-produced or recycled fabrics. We’d love to hear about your favorite green businesses in the comments below!
At QB Community, we like to say, “You may work for yourself but you don’t have to work by yourself.” Inclusiveness extends to considering our environment, too -- because we’re all in this together.
This is so true! Millenials especially have indicated their willingness to open their wallets for companies that have a solid reputation for sustainable business practices and corporate social responsibility. They key is not only "walking the walk" but also sharing your company values in a way that feels organic and authentic.