November 1, 2014

Green Business Trend: Turning to Nonprofits for Help

Becoming an environmentally responsible business isn’t an overnight process. It can take weeks of research and data analysis to make wise decisions that help both the environment and the bottom line – time many business owners don’t have to spare.

environmental sustainability

To cope with this challenge, more nonprofit programs are springing up to help businesses achieve their green goals.

Sure, there have been environmental groups for years that have assisted businesses. But more are now focusing on specific green business initiatives, whether it’s disposing of old equipment, finding environmentally and socially responsible suppliers or reducing water use. Many established environmental nonprofits are also extending their services for businesses, big and small, and offering more rating services and actionable guidance. (As this interesting Bloomberg article points, some environmental nonprofits don’t look that different from for-profit sustainability consultants.)

Costs differ across organizations: Some charge businesses fees for services, while others are funded through foundations or donations.

While there are many organizations helping businesses with sustainability these days – including many local groups — here’s just a small sampling of what’s out there:

Good360 – Some big corporations, including Hilton Hotels and Home Depot, have partnered up with this organization, which collects new and gently-used goods from businesses and donates them to charities in need.

The idea: Instead of throwing products away or trying to find a worthy cause to donate them to, Good360 helps find it a good home. It works with companies of all sizes. Good360 provides tax documentation to the donor company.

Rainforest Alliance – This nonprofit got its start in the early 1990s working with Chiquita to improve its banana-growing practices. But in recent years, Rainforest Alliance has introduced more programs that help a variety of businesses certify their products and source sustainable materials.

Sustainability ConsortiumMembership fees are high, starting at $10,000 for businesses with 500 or fewer employees. But this high-profile group, spawned from the development of Walmart’s Sustainability Initiative, is developing standards for a variety of product categories, including paper towels, TVs and yogurt. It provides members with in-depth research on sustainability trends and networking opportunities with some of the biggest brands working on sustainability, from Coca-Cola to 3M.

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) – This national nonprofit has expanded quite substantially in recent years adding “Sustainable Business Network” chapters in cities and regions across the country. These local chapters help their business members pursue a variety of green initiatives, whether it’s renewable energy production or sustainable agriculture.


Image from alphaspirit/Shutterstock

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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. Great article, Thanks! It’s good to see big business partnering up with these organizations.

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