Despite the nation’s economic downturn, the green economy appears to be alive and well—and even thriving in some cases. The goal of green businesses is to have a positive impact on both the environment and the community. A successful green business will develop and practice business strategies which demonstrate a solid commitment to a healthy and sustainable future and will adopt policies and practices which can improve the quality of life for all of us.
The Business Sense in Going Green
Our natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce and more costly while the typical consumer is becoming increasingly environmentally conscious. This combination creates an atmosphere that is just right for more and more businesses to “go green.” Investors are increasingly willing to put their money in green businesses, as they believe the industry will only continue to grow in a positive manner. The demand for environmentally-friendly products is at an all-time high, and still rising as more and more consumers are willing to pay a higher price for green products.
A recent poll on green employment found that 80% of today’s young professionals are interested in landing a job which has a positive impact on the environment, and a full 92% would be much more inclined to start a career with a company who shows environmental friendliness. Working for such a company gives employees an easy way to support the causes they care about on an everyday basis.
What Can Businesses Do?
Consider that Bank of America reduced the weight of their ATM receipts, thus saving paper, transportation, storing and handling costs to the tune of $500,000 a year. A relatively small change netted a relatively huge payoff, both in using less paper, thus less need for cutting down our precious forests, as well as saving money which could conceivably be invested in new green technologies.
The Environment Defense Fund conducted a survey of the most energy-efficient business leaders, 42% of whom stated their sales had increased from 2008-2009, and another 42% said their sales had remained stable. Considering these years were especially hard economic times for most businesses, this is very good news for environmentally-friendly new or established businesses.
Corporations and institutions are consistently adopting “greener” fleets, purchasing hybrid, biodiesel and other alternative vehicles, major IT companies are helping to lead the way with ambitious carbon emissions reduction efforts, and many large companies are using specific software which makes it easier to slash waste. More and more food companies are sharing their ingredients and sustainability practices, while doing their best to use green packaging that reduces waste and uses more recycled, low-toxic materials. The producers of electronics are releasing less toxic products while energy efficiency, water efficiency and paper recycling by big businesses are experiencing a definite upswing.
The Silver Lining
The economic recession has been very difficult for a great many Americans; homes were lost, unemployment soared to record highs. The “up” side to the recent hard times is that they provide a window for new business ventures, and allow new business owners to establish unique positions within the market. Resources become more affordable, and human resources become more abundant, leaving green business with customers who are more willing to consider alternatives to their usual products. Despite the tough economic times, this is a great time to consider a new green business—the U.S. Patent Office issued a record number of patents for clean energy technologies in 2009, and the numbers for 2010 are not even in yet.