There was a time when going green or leading a sustainable lifestyle was confined to the counterculture. A few eccentrics worried about their impact on the environment and tried to live a life that produced little waste, avoided harmful chemicals and overall was more eco-conscious.
But today, going green has gone mainstream.
We’re not talking about the fact that recycling bins or energy-efficient lights are commonplace. Its more than that. Going green makes financial sense for individuals and businesses.
Across the United States, major corporations are instituting green policies. From installing solar panels to implementing smarter waste management processes and updating their infrastructure, companies like Apple, Patagonia and even McDonald’s regularly make headlines about their eco-friendly practices.
But when it comes to realizing the potential of green business practices, small businesses are making some of the most important strides.
In celebration of Earth Day, here are five companies that have made sustainability part of who they are, and have had great success in doing so.
Alabama Chanin – Do good while looking good
By this point in time, you’ve probably heard of “farm to table”. It’s based on the idea that knowing your food source is healthier, more sustainable and more ethical.
What if you took that idea to the fashion industry?
That’s the idea behind Alabama Chanin’s “seed to fabric” practices.
Since its inception in 2000, the company has been grounded in a sense of tradition, community and ethical construction. All of their clothes are made with 100 percent organic cotton. The company even takes it a step further by also using reclaimed and re-purposed cotton.
Their business model has been hugely successful, and they’ve developed a passionate clientele who want to wear great clothes produced with ethical, sustainable standards.
Galactic Pizza – Making sustainability fun
Residents of Minneapolis have become accustomed to seeing small, electric-powered vehicles buzz around the streets, driven by drivers dressed as superheros.
This is the signature look of Galactic Pizza, a local establishment that boasts of serving “planet-saving pizza.” Not only do they use biodegradable packaging materials, organic ingredients and ethically sourced meats, but a guy or girl in a superhero costume brings your delivery to your door.
reNature – Providing a solution to the problem of food waste
According to a report released by The Guardian, about half of all produce in the United States is thrown away. Altogether, the world throws away around 1.6 billion tons of food each year. That’s enough to cover all five New York City boroughs, as well as Jersey City and Newark.
Arizona-based reNature has created a process that allows complex microbial communities to break down food waste and create sustainable fertilizer. The advanced biotechnology they use effectively reduces the amount of foodstuff that goes into landfills, as well as diminishes the overall environmental impact of food waste.
In addition, they provide a potent, organic fertilizer that replaces petroleum-based fertilizers and restores the natural nutrient cycle.
Drip Café – Unlocking the potential of sustainable flavor
At the heart of this Delaware-based business is the idea of transparency. Customers know the farms they partner with, and they collaborate with local organizations and co-ops to deliver the best-tasting food in the most sustainable way possible.
As you might have guessed, their coffee isn’t exactly farmed locally. But, they do have a robust compost program for all coffee, filters and vegetable waste. Couple this with their in-house single-stream recycling program, and you have a business making a minimal carbon footprint.
The result of these efforts is that, through their partnerships, the café is a deeply connected and integral part of the community.
EcoGreen – A cleaner way to clean a car
Oklahoma is a state that lives off oil. It isn’t exactly a place that comes to mind when you think eco-friendly.
What’s more, the business of auto detailing isn’t really an industry that screams “opportunity to go green.”
But if small business owners are anything, they’re a stubborn, determined lot.
Tulsa-based EcoGreen is a family-owned and -operated auto detailing shop that forgoes the harsh chemicals that are often involved in the process of making cars shine and sparkle. Their waterless car washing process involves using organic, biodegradable spray and reusable microfibers. The result? They save over 100 gallons of water per car wash.
Sustainable businesses and business practices are about more than saving the environment. They’re about coming up with innovative ways to do things differently. And that’s an area where small businesses succeed!