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Affordable Small Business Sustainability Measures Can Compete

Small businesses can take affordable steps to reduce their environmental impact, save money and be more competitive in the marketplace.

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Small Business Greening that Strategically Saves

While small businesses can’t dedicate entire departments and budgets to sustainability measures like Fortune 500 companies can, they can still take affordable steps to reduce their environmental impact.

Coordinate Information and Resource Providers

Having a community structure that coordinates information and resource providers helps small businesses in particular. A green business certification program in the San Francisco Bay Area, for instance, coordinated by the Association of Bay Area Governments, has enrolled more than 1,300 small- and midsize businesses since its start in 1996.

Paper Reduction + Recycling Solutions

While some greening actions, such as using recycled paper can cost a little more, the money a business can save on other measures such as printing on two-sides of that paper, can more than balance out those costs. CASE IN POINT: When law firm Wendel Rosen examined their environmental footprint in 2003, it found its biggest impact was its use of paper — five million sheets per year. The firm switched from using paper with 35-percent post consumer recycled content to 100-percent post-consumer content, which ended up saving the equivalent of 260 trees, 24,000 gallons of water, and enough electricity to power 3.5 homes each year. The touchpoints of conservation include: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Reduction Saves the Most

Reduction saves the most because it means cash is conserved, space is conserved, time is conserved... and even waste disposal is reduced. Triple or quadruple the savings with one action! The ROI for reduction can't be beat!

Reuse and recycling are growing in value for small businesses as they realize that ALL waste is just "resources in the wrong place". As recycling infrastructures are made more available and as manufacturing companies look for recycled feedstock or parts...even small business waste management can benefit from selling their waste. It's coming -- not here yet for most waste, but reduction is timely...and cost effective.

Small Business Greening Programs

Carbon Project Manager North America is the first web-based, analytical tool for understanding carbon market fundamentals in the U.S. and Canada

EPA’s Performance Track program has 533 members — ranging from major corporations to small businesses — who have voluntarily collaborated with EPA to establish goals for environmental improvement.

Energy Star Small Business program, energy efficiency improvements of 10-to-30 percent are economically viable for many small businesses through the implementation of “best practices” for facility operation and maintenance,

Small Business Leadership

Two-thirds of small business owners surveyed say they would be willing to pay more for goods and services to run their businesses if they knew they were environmentally-friendly, according to survey results from the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index.

And 47% of small business owners surveyed said they are already taking steps to show customers they are environmentally-friendly.

Many have concerns that their customers may be reluctant to share the added costs. Fewer than half (43 percent) of all small business owners surveyed believe their customers would be willing to pay more for environmentally-friendly goods and services, while 49 percent did not think their customers would be willing to pay more.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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