Millennials are embracing the move away from traditional nine-to-five gigs to freelancing or remote work—and entrepreneurship in this capacity is a natural extension of that move. Additionally, because they grew up with environmental issues at the forefront of their mind, millennial entrepreneurs stand to make a unique and significant impact on the environment.
Start-ups are also positioned well to put green initiatives in place because they tend to be smaller and more flexible than large, established companies. If you’re starting a business, incorporating a green culture is simple. Just try using some of the following ideas.
1. Use green energy sources.
Green energy, like solar or wind power, is cheaper than ever. There’s never been a better time to go green—it’s better not only for the environment but also for your bottom line. In fact, solar energy became cheaper than fossil fuels for the first time in 2017.
In many areas, it’s also possible to get the cost of solar panel installation subsidized through tax credits. Ask your accountant or solar installation company what rebates are available so you can make the most of this energy source.
2. Choose your vendors wisely.
Being green these days means taking responsibility for your environmental and social impact. It means looking out for the well-being of employees and customers and taking an active interest in improving surrounding communities. The vendors you choose to support are a part of that social responsibility.
Make sure any vendors your business uses also adhere to green principles. That includes bottlers, paper suppliers, and even web hosts. By supporting green vendors, you’ll also help expand your own business’s impact.
3. Install energy-efficient appliances.
While energy-efficient appliances cost a little more up front, they usually make up for it in long-term savings. The reduced energy usage also has a huge impact on the environment. Smart appliances are especially great at minimizing energy use. Products such as the Nest Thermostat claim to pay for themselves in a couple years. You can also try some creative landscaping to help cut back on energy use if you can’t afford the cost of these appliances at first.
4. Use green packaging for products.
Reducing the volume of any packaging your business uses can lower your effect on the environment. For inspiration, look at Apple’s recently revamped packaging. You can also use recycled materials if you want to further increase the impact.
5. Brand your company as green to raise awareness.
Some businesses have eco-friendliness and social responsibility baked into their brand identities. Think TOMS, for example. The shoe company donates a pair of shoes for every pair sold, and it's made that initiative a part of its core brand identity.
Patagonia is another brand that’s made sustainability part of its brand voice. You see it from the company’s visual advertising to the tone used in marketing copy. While building a green brand is tough, you can use some tools to help develop your voice.
6. Make employees an essential part of the process.
A UCLA study found that employees at green companies were 16% more productive than average. What contributed to this drastic increase in productivity? A mix of increased training, better relationships with co-workers, and higher motivation. People are happier working at green companies—and happier employees almost always work more productively.
Going green is like taking that productivity bump and cranking it up to eleven. These green initiatives will be in place from the beginning, and that’ll just be how your company does business. It may be just what we need to save the planet.