5 Mistakes Businesses Make When Going Green

We often talk about all the things businesses are doing right with environmental sustainability. And that’s how it should be: Being an environmentally conscious company is a positive thing and worthy of applause. But there’s also value in evaluating what’s not working so well – what can be done better.

eco business

In that spirit, here’s a list of five common mistakes that small businesses make when going green:

1.      Not rolling out sustainability broadly enough. Sustainability can’t be a one-trick pony. Consumers are becoming leerier of companies branding themselves as “green” because they, say, installed energy-efficient light bulbs. They’re looking beneath the surface and seeking validation that companies they support are incorporating green practices across the board – from office energy use to water use to supply chain management. To avoid being accused of “greenwashing,” you need to show a commitment to lowering your carbon footprint as much as you can.

2.      Trying to do everything at once. While it’s wise to think about sustainability broadly and how you can improve your overall footprint, don’t let it overwhelm you or you risk making some big, costly mistakes. Small steps, such as starting an office recycling program, are important and worthy of promoting to your customers. Being green isn’t something you can do overnight, so take your time to do the research and do it right. Your customers should understand that, too. Writing a sustainability plan can help you flesh out your goals and pursue them in an organized fashion.

3.      Not effectively communicating how you’re going green with your customers. There’s a big opportunity to explain your sustainability progress to your customers. You can’t assume that just because you’re doing the right thing, your customers will find out about it. There’s a huge opportunity now to connect green initiatives to the consumer.

4.      Leaving your customers out of the solution. There’s also a big opportunity to not just inform but also engage your customers in your green mission. Find out ways to let them chip in, whether it’s by donating to an environmental cause or explaining how they can be environmentally friendlier in their daily lives.

5.      Overlooking no- and low-cost steps. Some companies automatically assume that sustainability is an expensive undertaking. And while it can require an investment, you should focus on the inexpensive measures before spending a lot of money. Sure, solar panels might cost $50,000, but have you fully addressed ways to reduce your energy usage? Do you have efficient lighting and have you enabled power management settings on your office equipment?

Have you made, or seen, any mistakes when businesses go green?

1 Comment ▼

Kelly Spors


Kelly Spors Kelly Spors is a former small-business and entrepreneurship reporter and blogger for The Wall Street Journal who has also written for Yahoo!, Entrepreneur, NFIB's MyBusiness magazine and The New York Times. Kelly is now a freelance editor and writer based in Minneapolis and has previously managed communications for an environmental non-profit that helps businesses find ways to be greener.

One Reaction

  1. I concur with establishing a symbiotic~relationship between going green, but by also involving the customer’s participation to make it a feasible Win-Win situation.

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