“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

Companies worldwide are becoming aware of the impact climate change has on the environment and are using green methods to fight it, environmentally friendly businesses are on the rise. They make sustainability a key part of their business model. But the transition isn’t easy, since a lot of business activity depends on fossil fuels or wastes natural resources. Through hard work and innovation, however, you can become sustainable . Additionally, being green benefits both the environment and the economy. Below you will find everything you need to know about sustainable businesses and how you can make yours greener too. 

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What Does “Environmentally Friendly” Mean?

The term “environmentally friendly” or “eco-friendly” appears everywhere these days, be it on social media, in advertisements, or on the news. But what does it actually mean?

To put it simply, products or items that are labelled as “environmentally friendly” were created to replace those that cause environmental harm. An example of this is reusable shopping bags. 

Unsustainable products destroy the environment through:

Air pollution 

  • Refers to the contamination of air through the release of harmful substances into the atmosphere. These substances can be dangerous to human health as well as animals, and damage the climate. Exposure to air pollution can cause diseases such as lung cancer or lead to a stroke. 

Water pollution 

  • Similar to air pollution, water pollution is also caused by toxic substances. Instead of staying in the air, however, they land in the world’s oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams. The water in those areas becomes unsafe to consume and can destroy marine life. 

Noise pollution

  • Noise pollution, also called environmental noise or sound pollution, is defined as regular contact to higher sound levels. The source of those noises can include loud traffic, music, and machines. Noise pollution can damage your hearing, create sleep problems, cause heart disease, and lead to other health problems. 

Eco-friendly products promote green living, which helps conserve energy and combat such pollution. They have proven to be better for both the environment and our health.

What Is a Sustainable Business?

New sustainable businesses, with a passion for change, appear on the market all the time. 

But what defines a sustainable company? 

In general terms, a sustainable business wants to create a positive impact on society and the environment, rather than just focus on profit. They want to care about the well-being of present and future generations. Their business operations are managed with those aspects in mind. Their sustainable practices might include limiting waste, using sustainable energy, using eco-friendly materials, or planting trees.

5 Inspiring Environmentally Friendly Businesses

Here is a list of companies that are taking concrete action in the fight for the environment – and are successful at it, too. 

Patagonia

According to Rank a Brand, Patagonia is one of the most sustainable sports and outdoor clothing brands in the world. Their clothes are made from recycled fabrics, such as polyester, nylon, and wool. Patagonia also organizes workshops to teach customers how to repair their clothes. You can even bring in clothes from other clothing brands. Patagonia aspires to be completely carbon-neutral by 2025. Patagonia offers flexible working hours, where employees can leave their work to go surfing as long as their tasks are completed.

Too Good To Go

Too Good To Go is an environmentally friendly business that aims to fight food waste. Restaurants and shops throw away thousands of kilos of food daily, even though much of this food is in good condition. Through the Too Good to Go app, users can check these shops and restaurants to pick up leftover food. This way, food that would otherwise have been thrown out, still gets eaten.

Oatly

The Swedish company Oatly is the largest oat drink company in the world. For more than 25 years, the company has been developing alternative oat-based dairy products, including milk, ice cream, yoghurt, and on-the-go drinks. The company began advertising itself as “milk made for humans”, positioning itself as a champion of sustainability and health while taking a stance against the (animal) milk industry. According to uphealthyliving, a website that provides healthy living advice, oat milk leads to 80% less greenhouse gas emissions and uses 60% less energy. The production of oat milk also uses ten times less water compared with the production of cow’s milk. This is why Oatly serves as a great alternative to regular milk. 

Lush Cosmetics

Lush Cosmetics is committed to activism. Their products are cruelty-free, meaning no animal testing, and are made of natural ingredients. They also take into account the environmental aspects of their products. Their jars and containers are made of recycled materials, and their black bottles are made from 100% recycled polypropylene. These are also part of a recycling process, as all black bottles that return to the shops are sent back to the Green Hub, the recycling centre at Lush’s factories. There they are shredded into small pieces, melted down, and turned back into new pots.

Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat is one of the leading companies in the field of plant-based meat substitutes. The company sources proteins, fats, minerals, flavours, and colours from plant-based sources such as beans, peas, potatoes, and brown rice. By switching from animal to plant-based meat, the company aims to address the growing global challenges of climate change, human health, resource constraints, and animal welfare.

If you want to grow your business to the same level as these successful companies, taking inspiration and following similar environmental initiatives is a good start. Use them to make your business more efficient, more profitable, and more attractive to customers.

The Benefits of Sustainability

Now that you have learned about succesful environmentally friendly businesses, you will learn about the benefits of sustainability in this section. Having sustainable strategies and initiatives at the heart of your business opens up opportunities and has several advantages. Not convinced yet? Check the list of some of the best benefits below.

1. Improves Company Image

Did you know that sustainable companies are perceived as more trustworthy and transparent by the public? Furthermore, paying attention to these issues shows consumers that the business they buy from does not only care about economic gain, but also consumer welfare, product quality, and innovation. This automatically improves the company’s image, making it easier to win over new customers. Employees also look for these qualities in a company when choosing a job. If you operate in a socially and environmentally aware manner, you will attract motivated employees who are passionate about their work.

2. Increases Revenue

Environmentally conscious products are popular with consumers all over the globe. Customers are often willing to spend more money on goods that are labelled as eco-friendly. This demand leads to higher revenue for your businesses.

·        Additionally, governments and investors like to work with environmentally friendly businesses.

3. CO2-Neutrality

Environmentally friendly products have less impact on the environment because they significantly reduce the emission of harmful gases. Less exposure to harmful substances is not only good for the environment but also better for your health.

4. You Will Stand Out from the Competition

Adopting a sustainable development approach in your company will allow you to be completely transparent about your practices. This makes you look trustworthy to customers and gives you a competitive advantage.

5. Safer For Everyone

Most eco-friendly products must comply with regulations and be non-toxic. This is good news, because that means they are much safer for you and your employees, both in the office and at home. For those with children at home, you can now breathe a sigh of relief with this particular concern.

How to Make Your Business Environmentally Friendly in 8 Easy Steps

Want to become an environmentally friendly business? Here’s how you can do it. 1. Know Your Impact

Firstly, you should understand the impact your business and industry have on the environment. Make some rough estimates of the carbon emissions from your business and where the biggest emissions might come from. A good way to start is to find out your current carbon footprint using a carbon footprint comparison tool. Once you have figured out your impact, you will find it easier to implement change.

2. Innovate  

By designing your products with more environmentally friendly materials and technologies, you can avoid pollution and waste.

Environmentally friendly materials and technologies include:

  • Renewable or recyclable material
  • Sustainable packaging for the finished product

3. Change Transportation Methods

The way businesses transport and deliver their products have serious effects on the environment, such as creating air and noise pollution. 29% of greenhouse gas emissions are from the transportation sector.

Sustainable business delivery and transportation practices include:

  • Compressing or compacting the product (or its packaging) to take up less space
  • Using local suppliers or changing production locations to reduce the distance required to transport goods.

4. Use Solar and Other Renewable Energy

Updating your office to use solar or renewable energy, not only benefits the environment, but also a few other bonuses. You may also be able to get tax deductions, if you improve the energy efficiency of your building.

5. Start a Waste Management Programme

One of the easiest and quickest ways to make your business more environmentally friendly is to implement a waste management programme. First, try to find out where and how often your waste is generated and where it ends up. From there, you can see how you can develop waste prevention strategies.

6. Organise Video Conferences to Limit Travel

Having online meetings instead of location-based meetings is great for the environment and your business. With an online conference, your employees don’t have to travel to a specific location, saving time and decreasing emissions from keeping employee cars at home.

7. Less Paper Waste

Paper occupies a large percentage of the waste in landfills. Toners and printers also harm the environment. They contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals, which can pollute water and soil. 

Encourage the use of sites like Slack or e-mail in place of paper for communication. This can be beneficial for your workforce as well since digital programs can make organisation processes easier and more compact. 

8. Encourage Mindfulness

Using environmentally friendly methods won’t be impactful if your employees aren’t passionate about the environment. Practising sustainability in every area of your company, and having open discussions about innovations with your employees, will ensure that the topic is on their minds. Their everyday habits should reflect what your company stands for. Those can include:

  • Distributing reusable water bottles or recyclable cups to employees 
  • Decorating offices with plants and having green areas
  • Educating employees about sustainability
  • Creating systems and processes that make it easier for employees to make   green business decisions

Conclusion

Since sustainability is an increasingly important topic these days, your company will face with this issue sooner or later as well. Your products and services directly contribute to changes in the environment. Like every business, you have a responsibility to create as little damage as possible. Becoming environmentally friendly is essential to save our planet. You can start by making small adjustments in your company. This will increase the solidarity within your workforce and the path to sustainability will only become easier. Even the smallest of changes can go a long way towards creating a better world.

About the author
EWOR Team

EWOR is a school conceived by Europe’s top professors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. We educate and mentor young innovators to launch successful businesses.

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