If you call yourself a green, eco-conscious, or environmental business, then your positive impact must go beyond the products themselves.
I communicate with eco-conscious businesses every day. I know how important it is to show that your business REALLY cares by supporting green and social initiatives.
If you need convincing that it’s worth it NOW, here’s some quotes that reflect the importance of being involved in social initiatives as a business owner:
And if you’re a “numbers person,” the stats speak louder than words. When your business is part of social/green initiatives, you can:
- Gain a serious competitive advantage
- Build deeper relationships with your customers
- Most importantly, broaden your business’ positive impact.
A Mintel Study showed that two-thirds of consumers say they’d stop buying from a brand if it has irresponsible practices. And over 50 percent of Millennial and Gen Z consumers say they would pay more for a brand that takes actions aligned with their values – even if controversial!
If you don’t need to be convinced that supporting initiatives is the right thing to do, picking an initiative or cause to support can still be overwhelming. There’s a LOT of nonprofits, causes, and scammers out there.
So, I’ve curated the best resources and organizations categorized by niche to help inspire business owners to take initiative.
An initiative that works for any niche is to become a member of 1% for the planet – an organization that redirects one percent of a business’ profits to environmental non-profits. The network currently comprises more than 2,700 business members.
If you simply don’t have the financial means to be a part of a larger organization, then you can build community initiatives by sponsoring local teams, creating scholarships, or volunteering.The pandemic has made local support even more important – so now is the time to act.
A free way to align with your customer values is to use your current platforms to support frontline communities fighting against unethical and unsustainable practices.
Issues of environmental justice – or the idea that environmental and social issues affect each other – is a rising concern among environmentalists.
While it isn’t a particularly environmental example, Ben and Jerry’s just went viral for posting their strong, clear stance supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in a blog.
Another great initiative for any niche is to support clean water and energy initiatives. Here is a list the EPA created with verified Green Power Organizations to get involved with, if interested.
If wildlife conservation and deforestation are issues particularly close to your heart, then check out this list of organizations that protect the Amazon Rainforest. You can also partner with the One for One Program to plant a tree for every purchase made on your site.
Lastly, carbon offsets are a popular way to show your customers you care about mitigating the effects of climate change. Carbon offsets are a means of achieving carbon neutrality by investing in activities that reduce emissions to offset the amount of emissions created.
An example is to invest in a program that plants enough trees (which capture carbon out of the atmosphere) to “cancel out” the amount of carbon pollution you produce.
Fun-fact – if you are an Etsy Seller, then every time a customer purchases something from you, Etsy offsets the carbon associated with the travel and production of that item.
Now onto specific niches:
Fashion and Jewelry
If your products are associated with fashion, jewelry, accessories, etc. then some major issues likely associated with you are emissions and supply chain rights.
The fashion industry as a whole emits more greenhouse gases than the entire aviation industry. In addition, accessories/jewelry can create a lot of waste without proper disposal practices.
To reduce emissions, I suggest carbon offsets (mentioned above) and investing in initiatives that are carbon SINKS (they help take carbon out of the atmosphere) like planting trees.
For supply chain issues, I suggest the Supply Chain Drive’s 10 easy Tips for Ethical Supply Chain. It holds up after two years.
For your industry, toxins and waste are major issues. In-fact, the bathroom and kitchen are where most single-use plastic packaging and products come from.
Some ways to show you care outside of the obvious – taking steps to eliminate waste associated with your business – is to volunteer at ocean/beach cleanups.
Also, Pure Earth is a leading organization for toxic cleanup worldwide which you can partner with.
Electronics and Toys
Again, plastics and waste are likely a major issue (see above). But for electronics products, I highly suggest being active in the renewable energy sector.
Since energy is a very location-specific issue, I suggest doing a Google search for “renewable energy organization [your location]” to find the best places to partner with.
If you’re in the food industry, then investing in these three categories are some of your best bets:
- Regenerative Farming – This includes a suite of practices that enhance soils and support thriving biodiversity and water quality. Look into Regeneration International as a partner.
- Fair Trade – Consumers are starting to care more about not only the quality of their food, but where it comes from. Therefore, getting a Fair Trade Certification is a must-goal. Here’s a simple list on how to get certified.
- Organic – It’s not news that organic is a major trend. Although, it’s never been proven to be any more environmentally or biologically better. Despite that fact, there’s no doubt that organic farming better supports local farmers. So if you have the resources to do so, do it.
How to Share your Initiative
Once you’ve become more involved, it’s important to understand how to share your successes through marketing and social media. Note that there’s certainly a balance in reporting your social and green initiatives. You don’t want to come off as braggy or boasty. That’s why it’s so important that you choose an initiative that you are TRULY passionate about.
The way to be authentic is to … well be authentic. Customers have a sixth sense about fakeness – especially in video.
Some ways to keep your message authentic are to:
- Word the messaging to talk more about the IMPACT than yourself
- Interview the people involved to get their voice in
- Don’t just post about it once and think you’re done. Being involved is a continual practice
Finally, some places to place your message are:
- In a blog post
- On your home-page
- In the about-me section
- Consistently on social media
So, I challenge you. After this blog…
- Share this blog with your team
- Mark the sustainability initiatives that would be 1) easiest and 2) most impactful for your business if you were to implement them
- Review the ones that you’ve marked, prioritize them in the order in which you would like to complete them
- Get started and be transparent about the fact that you’re looking to better on your site