EcoBrandi provides valuable and earth-saving sustainability practices for budding entrepreneurs.
Many who are closely watching the climate crisis believe that businesses, especially entrepreneurs willing to try new approaches to operating, even new lines of business, are our best hope for reversing the degradation and destruction largely caused by current business practices. We cannot solve the problems our world is facing with outdated business models of take-make-waste and externalizing harm. If you went to business school, especially before the turn of the century, there likely wasn’t a wide variety of courses focused on circular economy, microgrids or energy efficiency. Entrepreneurs are willing to rethink business models, bring new products and services into existence and develop services that fill everyday needs.
There are three major ways to use the power of your business to help solve social and environmental challenges.
Start a business in a green industry.
Businesses in green industries will help achieve clean energy and efficiency goals. It’s a win-win when good things happen in the world and cool businesses employ people to do meaningful work and build wealth.
|Solar company||More clean energy produced which is healthier for people and the planet|
|Energy efficiency audit/upgrade service||Less energy wasted, which means less energy has to be produced|
|Electric bike shop||Healthy and efficient ways for people to travel|
|Regenerative farm||Agriculture that replenishes rather than depleting our soil while producing healthy food|
Build sustainability into the DNA of your business.
It’s possible for nearly any category of business to operate in ways that embody a culture of sustainability. This means caring about people, planet and profits. The beauty of entrepreneurship is you get to shape your company’s mission, vision and values. From purchasing to operations and waste management, from HR policies to risk management strategies, you can conduct business in ways to enhance the lives of people and the planet.
- Patagonia: Globally recognized clothing brand
- NadaMoo!: Family-owned consumer packaged goods brand
- Professional services firm Texas Green Realty, LLC
- Barr Mansion: The country’s first Certified Organic and Zero Waste wedding and event facility
These businesses have gone beyond business as usual and met third-party standards to achieve sustainability certifications such as B-Corp, Certified Organic, Certified Zero Waste, Green Restaurant Association and locally, the City of Austin Green Business Leaders Program. Each is using the power of business to actively address social and environmental challenges.
Retrofit/Adapt your existing business to be more environmental and resilient.
You may not have been thinking about sustainability when you first launched your business. That’s okay. You can take actions to move in a direction that will likely save you money, gain you more loyal employees and customers and help lower the environmental impact of your business. Wherever you are is the perfect place to start. As the proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”
For most businesses, the first step in the journey toward sustainability is to determine the baseline carbon footprint. It may sound technical or mysterious, but it’s not that hard. Gather up at least a year’s worth of utility bills, including electricity, heating and fuel use. Note how much you spend on things like travel, computers or furniture. Enter this data into the SME Climate Hub or any other carbon footprint calculator.
Bottom line: It’s never too late to start. Commit to taking the first step toward evaluating your business. Put yourself through a process of evaluating your business’ purchasing, finding ways to reduce energy and water consumption.
Eco Concepts in Action
Where can a spirited entrepreneur get started?
If you’re an entrepreneur looking for a green business idea, or you are in the job market, consider contributing your time and talent to creating or working for a green business. You can find examples of inspiring companies and currently available jobs at these sites.
General job search sites like Indeed and Monster allow you to set alerts for keywords and industries that interest you.
Brandi Clark Burton aka EcoBrandi is dedicated to promoting actions that help us be healthy, thriving people and healthy, thriving businesses in healthy, thriving communities on a healthy, thriving planet. She spends a lot of time outdoors when not growing The Austin Common (her civic engagement-focused media outlet), public speaking, selling solar or taking care of her family.