How and why to be an eco-friendly entrepreneur

Isn’t entrepreneurship all about making money? Well, yes, a big part of it is about generating revenue. But starting, running or even working for a business is actually about more than that. In recent years, there’s been a lot of talk about doing good via our companies, and often that means working hard and earning profits while at the same time giving something back.

For many business people, including myself, that means running our companies in ways that don’t deplete our natural resources and that demonstrate responsible stewardship of our planet and its ecosystem.

Over the years, I’ve been an advocate for the outdoors, and that advocacy extends to my professional activities. I’ve learned how sustainable entrepreneurship takes the core tenets of entrepreneurship and uses them to address and even help find solutions for ecological and social concerns by creating new businesses that are eco-friendly.

Here’s the interesting part: as scientific evidence continues to create awareness of how the earth can be negatively impacted by various factors, and sustainable companies realize that this is happening and adapt to become more eco-friendly, they can actually attract more business by offering products and services that appeal to the growing number of customers who place value on sustainability.

For instance, many grocery (and other) stores are moving away from plastic bags and either providing bags made from renewable materials or selling bags that are reusable to cut down on waste. And you’re probably familiar with Patagonia, which makes and sells clothing and gear for those active in the outdoors. Company founder Yvon Chouinard, born in Maine to a French-Canadian father, has been an active environmentalist practically since he produced his first pitons in 1957.

But sustainability isn’t just a Canadian or North American thing; nor is it new.

According to an article published on the University of Scranton’s website, German-based automaker BMW has been practicing environmental sustainability efforts since 1973, when it introduced one of the world’s first environmental officers. The company continually works to reduce vehicle emissions while also offering its customers environmentally friendly options such as electric-powered and hybrid autos.

More and more people continue to realize the value of sustainability and that’s a good thing.

At the company I work for, Engie, a major energy supplier, we strive to accelerate the continued transition toward a carbon-neutral world through reduced energy consumption and more environmentally-friendly solutions, reconciling economic performance with a positive impact on people and the planet while at the same time offering competitive solutions to our customers.

I’m also active as a consultant with a number of clients in a variety of industries who often ask about sustainability, environmental friendliness and preserving natural resources as part of their missions.

So how can you be an eco-friendly entrepreneur? Here are a few simple tips:
  • You can start by using recycled paper, recycling the paper you use and by installing energy efficient lighting.
  • Then, look at your cleaning closet. Are your cleaning chemicals eco-friendly? If not, ditch them for biodegradable sprays, animal-free soaps and other solutions that don’t harm the environment (or your employees).
  • If you have a kitchen, check to see whether your appliances are energy-efficient. Newer models are manufactured with eco-friendliness in mind.
  • If you really want to make a difference, explore the possibility of using a renewable energy source like solar energy to power your company. Ever see the solar panels positioned next to some companies? Yep, people are doing it.
I’d love to share more ideas with you and help you continue to be successful and profitable while at the same time implementing sustainability measures. Remember, the earth belongs to all of us.