Entrepreneurs, try small changes to stand up for the planet

Steve Strauss, Special to USA TODAY
Published 8:00 a.m. ET April 18, 2019


President Trump’s pick for leading a climate change panel is notorious for denying the science behind human-caused global warming. We dive into the counter-arguments on climate change.
USA TODAY, Just the FAQs


Think what you will about President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement (dumb and shortsighted). Think also what you will about the Green New Deal (appropriately aspirational, if immediately unrealistic). As it turns out, smart people have decided that there is work to be done, and if the Feds aren’t up to it, so be it.  

The United States Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of 22 states that have pledged to uphold the Paris Agreement anyway. Those states make up half of the country’s population, as well as half of the U.S. GDP. People aren’t waiting to act and aren’t taking no for an answer.  

Sounds like some entrepreneurs I know. 

So on this Earth Day, April 22, a deviation of JFK’s famous quote is in order: Ask not what your planet can do for you, ask what you can do for your planet. 

We small business owners can do plenty for the planet, especially given that we make up 99% of all business in this country and employ more than half of all workers. To wit: 

Stop with the plastic bags.

You know plastics are a problem, we all do. We collectively use about 500 billion single use plastic bags a year. They last for 1,000 years. 

The good news is that hundreds of municipalities and two states (California and Hawaii) have already banned single-use plastic bags. Fifteen countries have also banned plastic bags, including New Zealand (last year), Bangladesh (the first, in 2002), Israel, and South Africa.  

Small businesses can join the fight by offering paper alternatives or encouraging customers to bring their own bags

Encourage alternative transportation.

You can also join the fight to clean up the environment by giving employees incentives to commute and/or work in ways other than by driving alone to the office: 

— Encourage carpooling 

— Create bike-friendly spaces at work 

— Offer work-at-home options  

Reduce, re-use and recycle.

Collect and recycle printer paper, printer and toner cartridges, batteries, etc. 

While going paperless in your business is both unrealistic and unwise, what is realistic is using recycled paper, which requires less bleach and produces less methane.

You can also cut down on waste by providing employees with washable plates and encouraging them to bring their own mugs and water bottles to work. Single-use plastic water bottles be gone! 

Use green energy.

It is estimated that at least half of all small businesses are located in areas that offer the option to buy energy from renewable sources like solar and wind. Your local energy company can let you know if they offer such green alternatives. 

Buy Energy Star© products.

According to, Energy Star is an EPA designation that means your products (printers, etc.) “are independently certified to save energy without sacrificing features or functionality. Saving energy helps prevent climate change. Look for the ENERGY STAR label to save money on your energy bills and help protect our environment.” 

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Procure green products.

A great way to be more environmentally friendly is to buy green in your business, that is, source goods and services that are local and sustainable. Green procurement reduces waste, lowers greenhouse emissions, and conserves energy. Look specifically for products that are sustainably manufactured, do not contain toxic materials and are made from renewable materials and/or otherwise can be recycled. 

Be discouraged by climate change if you must (and you must), but know too that one small person – and one small business – can make a difference. 






























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