When your company makes an effort to “go green” by changing the way it does business to be more friendly to the environment, it can also help your business save money. Going green can help your business save or make money by reducing your utility bills, claiming tax benefits and attracting new customers who want to support green businesses.
Promoting green business practices could also encourage other companies in your community to follow your lead, perhaps by recycling or cutting back on waste. While the priority is turning a profit so your business survives, taking small steps to be environmentally sustainable can have a positive impact on a local and global scale.
If you’re running a small business, you’re likely having a surprisingly big impact on both the economy and the environment. In all countries, micro-enterprises (those with up to 9 employees) dominate the business landscape, accounting for 70% to 95% of all firms according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The way you run your business can have a similarly big positive — or negative — impact on the environment. To ensure you’re taking the most sustainable, environmentally friendly approach, it’s important to think carefully about how you handle waste, use energy and consume natural resources like water.
An eco-friendly approach
Day-to-day decisions about energy conservation and the use of water can impact the environment in your community and contribute to greater global environmental sustainability. If you use vehicles to receive shipments or deliver orders, are they eco-friendly? If you are manufacturing home goods, are they sustainable, compostable, biodegradable, recycled or recyclable?
Depending on your product or service, best practices in sustainability can vary. Generally, using refurbished items, utilizing energy-efficient office spaces, recycling and going paperless are all effective ways to reduce your business’s environmental footprint and save money.
Drafting a plan
You can also help ensure a more sustainable business by making your team aware of your intent to responsibly consume resources, such as water, across operations. Get them on board by drafting and sharing an environmental sustainability plan. It’s important for all team members to know that your business has a ripple effect that can affect communities and resources throughout the world. In the end, taking steps towards sustainability is in your best interest and the best interest of your employees, the environment and your community.
A few of the benefits of being environmentally conscious across your business practices include:
Improving public health
Becoming a sustainable business can help reduce emissions and improve air quality. This, in turn, can promote higher standards of public health and environmental protection.
Appealing to Earth-conscious customers
You can raise your brand’s value by appealing to Earth-conscious consumers with your product and practices. Some small businesses even choose to partner with other companies that have a similar environmental stance.
By offering businesses sustainability incentives through tax credits, governments can encourage small businesses to be more eco-friendly. From Europe to China to the U.S., governments are proposing “green sustainability” tax breaks. For example, the head of Indonesia’s Ministry of Industry’s Green Industry and Environment Center said there is the need for a new regulation to set sustainability requirements and create incentives for businesses to help the country lower its carbon emissions by 29 percent by 2030.
You may be able to get tax credit for specific energy-saving business investments. Other possible tax write-offs can come from installing energy-efficient air conditioning or heating equipment, solar energy systems to power your company’s operations, or going green with your waste management.
At the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) a few examples of globally sustainable tax incentives mentioned included:
- Carbon regimes: a region or country can set limits or put a price on carbon under either an emission trading program or a carbon tax.
- Energy and environmental taxes: governments that provide these tax incentives can encourage small businesses to reduce activities which impact the environment negatively and could impact climate change.
- Sustainability incentives: governments can encourage companies to engage in behaviors and develop technologies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and incent small businesses to do this through tax credits, subsidies and other business incentives.