4 Ways to Boost Your Green Business Efforts in 2012

It’s that time of year when everyone is making New Year resolutions to improve their lives in the months ahead, from health to relationships to finances. Another worthy consideration is how to make your business (and life in general) eco- friendlier in the year ahead.


Last month, I featured some green business trends, such as eco-packaging and nonprofits helping businesses with sustainability, which might offer some inspiration. But here are four steps to getting your green business initiatives off to a strong start:

1. Write an annual sustainability plan. Writing down plans, like hashing out a budget, helps you define your goals and better determine how you’ll achieve them. It’s also demonstrates to your customers your commitment to reducing your environmental footprint. It doesn’t have to be 100 pages, or even 10 pages. But it forces you to think in detail about your green goals and can help motivate you to get started. Review the plan at least once or twice throughout the year to see whether you’re on track to fulfilling it. Read more about sustainability planning.

2. Prioritize your goals. As they say, don’t bite off more than you can chew. You realistically may only have time to concentrate on one main goal for the year on top of everything else you do. Decide what that goal should  be – whether it’s installing  energy-efficient lighting, moving to a paperless system or conserving water. Whatever that goal is, break it into sma steps in your sustainability plan to make it more attainable and make sure you’ll realistically have the time and money set aside to achieving it.

3.  Utilize free help. A growing number of nonprofits, Web sites and even smartphone apps have cropped up to help businesses achieve their green initiatives. Don’t turn away free help – embrace it. Consider joining a local business networking group devoted to green practices. Also check into services offered from your city or gas and electric utility, if you haven’t already. Many offer free energy audits and other environmental-related services.

4.  Offer your customers a role.  Your sustainability efforts are a natural place to involve your customers and can even engender more loyalty. Make this the year that you take your green initiatives to the next level by better engaging your customers– whether it’s through recycling or donating a small share of your profits to a good cause. Little measures can go a long way to building a better  reputation as an eco-friendly firm.

Did you include sustainability in your business plans for 2012? What’s your top green resolution?

Sustainability Photo via Shutterstock

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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.

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