I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get the feeling that the excitement surrounding the green business movement is starting to lose its luster.
Before I share some of the reasons why, read The State of Green Business from Kelly Spors, as it will help set the table for this post. While Kelly’s report paints a mostly positive picture about green business, I’ve been noticing a few hiccups as of late, including;
- Solyndra - this was the solar panel manufacturer based in California that declared bankruptcy last August. Now, Solyndra is not the first solar panel company to declare bankruptcy, but it’s the one that has garnered most of the publicity. That’s because US taxpayers helped fund it through loan guarantees that were part of the 2009 stimulus package.
According to an article in The New York Times, taxpayers may end up being on the hook for almost a half a billion dollars. Solar panel manufacturers and sellers probably didn’t see too much of an uptick in business in the days and weeks following the Solyndra news.
- Chevy Volt - General Motors is shutting down the Detroit plant that produces the $40,000 Chevy Volt for 5 weeks. Currently, supply is exceeding demand, so GM has decided to allow the two to catch up with each other.
Some say that Volt sales are slow because of the $40,000 price tag. Some say that it’s a combination of price and plug-in. The bottom line; US consumers aren’t flocking to showrooms to buy electric automobiles.
- Rapioli - One would think that a huge forward-thinking company like Apple would be interested in reusable plastic shipping packaging that can be used to ship its products all over the world and back, but so far interest in Rapioli has been tepid. This environmentally friendly, patent-pending product was first recognized for its innovation by the EPA, and was awarded a grant from the California Department of Conservation, Division of Recycling.
Toyota made a commitment to test the product, because it was in line with their zero-waste mission, but nothing came out of it; they didn’t buy Rapioli. It can be quite a challenge to convince a huge company to buy a cutting-edge green product.
- The Green Franchise Sector - When the green business movement started to gain traction, a few franchise concepts started to appear that capitalized on things like green energy and the use of environmentally-friendly products.
The first green franchises that appeared were of the solar variety. The franchisors that set these new concepts into motion were based on the west coast of the United States, and most of the people that invested in solar franchises set their businesses up in places like California, Nevada and Arizona. One of the main reasons for these locations being first on the grid was the fact that there were, (and still are) financial incentives from the government for homeowners that had solar panels installed. That’s since changed, and for the better, as you’ll see on this Database of State Incentives For Renewables And Efficiency.
While it’s great to see more states offering subsidies to homeowners that convert their homes to solar energy, the up-front cost is still out of reach for most people. (Approximately $30,000) We’ll have to wait and see if the interest in solar energy remains strong, but more importantly, we’ll need to find out if wallets will actually start opening for solar panel installs.
I’ll admit it; I get energized about the possibilities surrounding all things green. I like seeing an occasional wind turbine spinning silently along my local freeways. Once in a while, I see a house that has an array of solar panels set up, and it’s a good feeling to know that a few residents have taken it upon themselves to move towards energy independence.
It’s also a good feeling to learn that a number of small businesses have started to focus on sustainable practices. But, will more small businesses move in the green direction? And, can they?
I’d like to think so, but I’m not so sure. A lot of small businesses have had to downsize their workforces, and scale back on things like inventory, and operating hours. As the US economy continues to rebound, will small business owners be thinking about how to go green? Or will they be thinking about how to make up for lost time, and focus on increasing profits?
What do you think?
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