Monday, January 18, 2010

Tip: Be A Green Small Business, Part 1

I had the pleasure and opportunity to work with Jenny Martinez, Creative Director at, when I worked with the Cartfly and Sellit brands. Together we helped create great customer experiences through graphic design and social media.

We worked on many blog posts over the years and I thought I would "recycle" our Green Small Business series from back in July of 2008. So enjoy!
Branching out on your own and starting a small business can be an opportunity to establish some green business practices. Online info is endless and can be overwhelming to sort through but we are here to help! Part 1 is about your shipping resources and marketing materials.

Whether you work from your kitchen table on the weekends or have a dedicated office space with a staff, here are some tips to get you started.

1) Shipping Resources

By having an online shop, I've had to figure out how to package up and ship my product. I purchase eco-friendly envelopes from a company that also operates by eco-friendly standards, Action Envelope. From my research they look to be "the" online resource for eco-friendly envelopes.

Reusing Supplies
One very economic and green shipping practice is to enlist friends, neighbors and the local post office to collect previously used boxes and other supplies like bubble wrap. You can also get reused cardboard boxes from, a Co-op America approved company. While this is a great way to reuse and get free shipping materials, keep in mind that it is important to be mindful about not mixing boxes marked for particular delivery companies and services.

Packing peanuts come in two varieties: foam and cornstarch. Foam are not eco-friendly, but you can sign up to get reused foam peanuts for free through the Peanut Hotline and the Plastic Loose Fill Council. This keeps them out of landfills and re-used over and over. However, once they are out of your hands, you have no way to know what the person on the other end will do with them. If you depend on peanuts, the cornstarch variety are biodegradable.

2) Marketing

Green Printing
What I really want is soy or vegetable ink toner cartridges so I can continue to print my marketing materials, tags and inserts as I go. But that's not a reality yet. For those of you ready to print in large quantities you may want to consider a print shop that uses these friendly materials and operates in eco-responsible ways. Google 'green printing' and you find plenty of options including Greener Printer in Berkeley, CA or PsPrint in Oakland, CA. They are certified "green business" as eco-friendly printers, using soy and vegetable based inks, and recycled paper.

Co-op America Business Network
"Co-op America's Green Business Network™" is dedicated to helping socially and environmentally responsible businesses emerge and thrive to form a global green economy." Benefits of membership include: listngs in the National Green Pages™, use of the Green Business Seal of Approval, invitation to participate in Green Festivals, special discounts, access to groups, media exposure, and more. Learn more here.

1% For The Planet
1% For The Planet is a growing global movement of 924 companies that donate 1% of their sales to a network of 1,601 environmental organizations worldwide. The company states that "membership creates opportunities for companies to network, conduct business and simply associate themselves with over 700 companies that have made the same noble commitment. From a consumer standpoint, member companies re-enforce a positive perception of their brand, adding value that can result in greater customer loyalty and an increased customer base, especially among the growing number of people who recognize and appreciate the importance of environmental responsibility." Learn more here.

I hope you found these tips helpful and interesting! Check back next Thursday for Part 2: Greening Your Office and Supplies.

1 comment:

  1. These are really great recommendations! Small businesses are such a huge part of the economy - well over 50 percent - and a corresponding amount of environmental impact. There's potential for huge impact form our small business owners.

    Would you be willing to share these actions with our (Intuit's) small business community?

    John Joseph
    Intuit Green Small Business Community