Environmentally Sound Startup

Thinking Green

Even if you don't want to start an entirely green business, you can still incorporate eco-sound practices on a smaller level. For instance, you can use both sides of office paper (just set the printer to duplex); purchase nontoxic cleaning supplies; recycle paper, aluminum and cardboard; and use energy-efficient appliances. You'll find that small changes will not only benefit the environment, but also your budget-by cutting costs on energy and paper, for example. You might even consider a paperless office, suggests Fried. If you're building or renovating an office, think efficient windows and nontoxic insulation.

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Brown touts the four-day workweek as an inexpensive, though environmentally friendly, step. "You may think: What does that have to do with anything?" he says. "But the fact is, [these] workers spend more time at home, eat less processed food, travel less, use [fewer] fossil fuels-their actions are better for the planet." Though it may not always be possible, it is one action to consider. A reduced workweek will also enable you and your employees to donate some time to volunteering for environmental causes.

Though going green requires commitment, don't think that you'll have to live in a commune, knitting baskets from grass, to make it work. It's really about balance-balancing your business needs with the needs of the environment. "And acknowledging that we all have to consume in order to live, and there's really no shame in that," says Brown. "We're not telling people they should shiver in the dark and make sweaters of old mop heads." What experts suggest is for entrepreneurs to put profits and planet side-by-side on their list of priorities.

As the population continues to grow and environmental resources become more and more valuable, eco-sound practices will become the norm, predicts Brown. Fried agrees: "In 100 years, a green business will just be referred to as a business-because every business will be green."

For More Information

Check out a few of these resources to learn more about green products and services:

  • Sustainable Business.com: Provides news and information about green business. Includes industry information, as well as a place to post green employment opportunities.
  • GreenMarketplace.com: This e-commerce site sells green products-and it's a good place to research what's in the market right now.
  • Co-op America: This site offers a thorough listing of green businesses, and it's a good starting point for researching types of environmentally friendly businesses.
  • Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonaugh and Michael Braungart talks about joining environmentalism with commerce-and includes examples of some companies who've done it well.
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This article was originally published in the October 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Environmentally Sound Startup.

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