The true cost of going green

wind green

There is a lot of pressure on businesses these days to show that they are supporting local communities, charities and the environment. In 2015, a study concluded the the global economic value of bees is €265billion, and in an age where people study the economic value of the environment as a university subject, the idea of being environmentally friendly, for most people, is very appealing, however it's not as easy as just buying the ecopaper instead of the regular paper. A great example of a successful environmentally and ethically aware business is Innocent Smoothies who not only use recycled materials to create the bottles for their products, but also donate 10% of all profits to charity and publicly support many environmental campaigns, and still manage to thrive at a time when people are often struggling to afford any luxuries. Here are a few things to consider about owning a green business.

What do your customers want? - Some businesses will benefit hugely from going environmentally friendly as it's appealing to their customers and target audience, and the bragging rights to this status will boost their flow of clientele and therefore, providing the increase in profit outweighs the additional cost of ecofriendly materials, the company will see a rise in revenue. However, just because you believe in a particular value, it does not mean the majority of your customers will. An example of this could be a travel company that focusses on a richer clientele, who may gain a certain level of respect from going green, however when their customers turn up at the airport they will always prefer to be welcomed with a bottle of water instead of a the greener alternative of a recyclable paper cup filled from a larger bottle as when it comes to the choice between luxury and what's best for the environment, they would tend to put their comfort first. Sometimes you may have to make sacrifices against the values you stand for to keep your customers happy and to keep revenue flowing smoothly.

The price of materials - This depends largely on the type of business you run and the lengths to which you are prepared to take this ideology. A lot of offices these days opt for a paperless system however this does not necessarily mean that they are a green business. Electricity is also a resource, and unless you can guarantee that it comes from an environmentally friendly source, you cannot claim you are completely green. If, for example, you run a coffee shop there's a lot more materials to consider; the takeaway cups, the bags, the takeaway trays for the coffee cups, posters and printouts, in fact everything down to stickers you may use as promotional material can be obtained from green and ethically responsible sources, however they tend to cost a lot more than your standard materials. It's worth comparing the difference between your potential additional profit and the additional cost of materials, and if it's a loss you will have to question how important having a green business is to you.

Certification - There are a number of ways to certify your business as green from Greenseal to GBB which gives you the right to display to your target audience that you are officially a "green business", however most of these companies will charge either a one off or a membership fee for this. You can still partake in green practices and sponsor environmental programmes as a business without certification, you will just have to decide whether your clientele will still recognise and, more importantly, appreciate your efforts.

There is a general increase in the number of people turning to greener and more ethical alternatives so now could be a perfect time to consider what practices you follow that could be adapted to appeal to a quickly increasing market.