COVID-19 and the New Focus on Green Businesses
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted small business and the economy in a number of ways. Can Earthday help or hurt a small business? Many businesses shifted from traditional models that relied on foot traffic to the digital marketplace, and e-commerce became the new standard. Businesses that moved to e-commerce discovered the ability to engage more directly with customers and grow their client base. But perhaps one of the most surprising came in the form of the idea that businesses can reduce long-term costs and build goodwill with their customers by embracing sustainability. The focus on green businesses has once again become top-of-mind throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Nobody was Traveling. That is quickly changing
As the pandemic was shutting down the country a year ago and turning businesses upside-down, one of the good affects was the impact on traffic flow and on carbon emissions. The pandemic had people self-quarantining. Businesses moved their in-office staff to remote positions. Wearing pajamas or sweats for zoom calls became the norm for many people working from home. As a result, hardly anyone was out driving, save for trucks delivering shipments. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the price of oil plummeted, because no one was using fuel.
People weren’t traveling.
Airlines were grounded or severely limiting their flights. Cruise ships were docked, because no one wanted to risk their health. In places that normally saw heavy traffic, the smog dispersed and the skylines became clearer. But this was more than just an act of beautification.
Clean air and water as a result of people not using petroleum products made for a healthier world. On the dark side, with the concern about spreading the virus, many businesses were shifting back to plastics and additional throw-away to protect each other. Plastic bags…Plastic hand sanitizers…. Plastic gloves….Throw-away masks. Seeing birds with mask strings around their throats, and paper masks tossed on to parking lots is heart-breaking. And, unfortunately, we can all tell that traffic is starting to pick-up again.
It has been 51 year since Earth Day was born and there have been many successes to protect our planet. Our air and water is cleaner. We are protecting more marine sanctuaries and parks. We have better processes to clean up toxic dumps and oil spills.
Yes, we still have a long way to go, but has Covid-19 put a screeching stop to all the successes? It has actually led to new opportunities.
Suddenly, businesses everywhere are making tough economic decisions. Businesses know the advantage to running a green business. Is it still possible to become more sustainable in a post-Covid world, and make the transition without passing the costs onto their customers. And if they did have to raise the prices on their products and services, would their customers be okay with that if in the end the planet would be a better place?
Green Businesses and Brand Equity
When businesses go green, they are not just doing it for a boost in public relations – they also see an opportunity to reduce long-term costs and increase productivity. The trucking industry is looking to go electric over the next few years. The manufacturing industry is finding ways to eliminate single-use plastic products and reduce emissions. Distilled down to its simplest idea, these companies are realizing that all the revenue in the world means nothing if there is no planet in which to enjoy the profits.
Staying at home created a different demand on our supply lines. Hoarding of toilet paper and paper towels put a new strain our supplies. But in turn, many companies had to act quicker to look for ways to develop recyclable goods.
When smaller businesses make the decision to go green, and outline their plans to the public, they build a lot of brand equity among customers and prospective clients. And more people are willing to shop local, pay a little extra for the peace of mind that comes with buying from green businesses. While there is some concern that people in lower economic brackets will be unable to afford the “right” products and services, green businesses are devising creative strategies to make their products more accessible.
Here are 7 eco-friendly ideas for your business:
- Use email marketing and social media to offer discounts for customers who recycle
- Offer special discounts for branded “green” product, such as recyclable water bottles or shopping bags
- Donate food surplus or “leftover” supplies to a food bank or homeless shelter
- Run a ‘bring in recycling’ get 20% off program
- Have trash bins AND recyclable bins available for your staff and your customers
- Sponsor a ‘green” event (with your brand) such as planting trees in your local park
- Use hashtag in your social media, such as : earthday? #saveourplanet #savetheplanet #loveearth #happyearthday? #worldearthday #saveearth #earthdayeveryday #earthday2020 #happyearthday
Green is Good for Business
Maintaining a sustainable business is not an IF-OR proposition. Earthday is actually good for small business. Yes, some products may initially be more expensive, but prices are coming down such as paper, printer cartridges, and light bulbs. Each business should also look into the marketing opportunities for going green. It can be a WIN-WIN proposition.
Earthday and small business are compatible and need a marketing strategy that faces customers, competitors, and partners. Not only does this build brand equity and lead to more sales (which can help mitigate the costs of going green), but it also informs others in the marketplace that they should also consider creating environmentally-friendly and sustainable business models.
Remember that studies, such as a recent Nielsen study, have found that if given a choice, consumers are increasingly looking to purchase from vendors and suppliers that support or sell sustainability and eco-friendly products. Many are even willing to pay more for these values and demands.
Here is a article from Accounting Seed for 2021: How your business can be more eco-friendly.
CR Digital Solutions became one of the first certified Green businesses in Glendale, CA. Take look at how we became a green certified business as well as benefits for “Going Green”. Maybe your city can do the same.
Letting everyone know that you care about the planet and its people, and that you believe in sustainability can help to position your business as a leader in the movement to go green. Putting out videos, social media campaigns, blog posts, and more can get everyone – your customers, followers, industry peers, and employees – on the same page so they can align with your goals.
Earthday is good for Small Business!