• Social impact and sustainability

How to become a green entrepreneur

Futurpreneur | April 23, 2013

In 2009 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Lisa von Sturmer founded Growing City – a simple, clean and convenient way to bring composting and recycling to an office and business. By implementing their easy and engaging services, companies can responsibly reduce their waste by up to 50 percent or more – while making a positive impact on global warming and limiting their contribution to local landfills. Lisa had the following advice about being green:

I want to go green but my business doesn’t have much money

Start with what you can afford, and build a wish list. We all want to be 100 percent sustainable – right this minute – but sometimes our young businesses just can’t afford it yet. Don’t despair! There are always small and simple changes that we can implement overnight (like changing your light bulbs and turning off your monitor policies), while you plan and save for major overhauls and retro-fittings.

Make a list of everything you can do now that’s free or under $100 per month and use that as a place to start. Don’t forget volunteering, which can be an awesome way for you and your team to build teamwork outside of the workplace and support the community (and if done on the weekend, doesn’t cost you much other than your time!). It’s ok to start small and let your programs evolve with your business.

I don’t know where to start, there’s too much to do!

Start with your values and grow from there. Sometimes ‘green’ is too big of a concept, and it’s not just about eliminating paper and saving energy but also about your connection and involvement in the community. It can be hard to know what changes you need to implement first to get your business where you want it.  Lisa suggests starting with your company’s core values – that way you’ll know that all the new initiatives you’re starting will not only fulfill your desire to ‘go green,’ but will also be strengthening your company’s vision and mission.

For example, if your company has a value of “Healthy Living,” you could implement a rooftop veggie garden or sign up for company transit passes for staff. If one of your values is “Constant Improvement,” perhaps you could start to volunteer your services for educational programs to allow students to improve their learning.

Based on your values, what areas in the community would be best served by your time, energy or financial donations? Each quarter when Lisa is setting her targets for her business she likes to think of one inside and one outside change they can make (for example, switching all their receivables to electronic methods; donating compost to a community garden etc.). That way she doesn’t get overwhelmed by everything she needs to do and can look at more than just one aspect of sustainability.

Ok, I’ve done all of the top-ten lists for greening my office, now what?

Get expert advice. There are so many fantastic organizations out there that will not only help you learn where your company can reduce its carbon footprint, but how you can save money in the process. In British Columbia, they’ve got the fantastic Climate Smart and BC Hydro Power Smart Programs to help take their businesses to the next level of sustainability. Many of the programs also have grants or scholarships available that you can apply for to offset the program costs.

“Remember, sustainability is a journey and each year gives you a new opportunity to make an improvement. Your initiatives can grow along with your company. Today, go paperless – tomorrow, get electric vehicles,” said Lisa.