How green is your small business? As Earth Day approaches, it’s natural to start thinking about eco-friendly changes you can make to your business model – but going green is more than a mid-April gimmick. As it turns out, 66 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies that are committed to making a positive social and environmental impact, according to Nielsen. Millennials and Generation Z’ers are particularly enthusiastic about supporting eco-friendly businesses. As you plan how to celebrate Earth Day this year, consider making your green practices part of your year-round business strategy.
It’s no secret that plastic bags create lots of waste. These days, reusable shopping bags are widely available and relatively inexpensive. Oftentimes, consumers get them for free from events or stores. If you’d like to see your customers carrying a reusable shopping bag that features your business’s logo, consider giving them out as promotional items on Earth Day. Encourage customers to use reusable shopping bags of any kind by offering a small discount to customers who bring their own bags.
Prioritize Your Parking Lot
If your business has its own parking lot, you can set aside desirable parking spots for electric or hybrid vehicles. You can also install bike racks or electronic-vehicle charging stations to encourage alternative transportation. A desirable parking spot may not sway any of your customers into driving an eco-friendly vehicle, but it certainly shows that you take the environment seriously.
Clean Up Your Neighborhood
Help to preserve public spaces by organizing a neighborhood clean-up event. Recruit your employees, fellow small business owners and your customers to join the effort to clean up your local shopping center or a nearby park. While you’re beautifying the community, you can get to know your neighbors and make new connections in the community.
Speaking of community connections, why not celebrate Earth Day with other small businesses in your shopping center or downtown district? A recycling drive can become both a friendly competition between neighborly small businesses and a community-wide campaign that raises awareness for local and independent merchants. In particular, if you have the resources or connections to process electronic waste – such as old television sets, computers, or batteries – consider giving the public an opportunity to discard these inconvenient items.
Finding small ways to reduce the amount of paper you use can go a long way. For instance, ask customers if they need their receipt printed. If they don’t need a copy of the receipt, you can make your rolls of receipt paper last longer, saving money and the environment at the same time. Additionally, collect email addresses from loyal customers at the point of sale. That way, you can send e-newsletters or electronic coupons, rather than paper versions.
Ultimately, small businesses are in a strategic position to go green. Many consumers already recognize and appreciate locally and independently owned Main Street businesses for their positive social and environmental impacts. On April 22, your business can celebrate Earth Day and give customers something to appreciate about your small business.