Running a small business has its challenges and the importance of word-of-mouth advertising for gaining and retaining business is paramount to success. As a small business owner you’re constantly looking for simple, cost-effective ways to re-direct a few extra customers to your store.

One way to add value is to let your customers know that you care about the environment.

Along with keeping the planet clean, it may just give you that advantage over your competitors.


Here are seven ways that smart shop owners can change the way they do business and better their community:

• Be frugal about printing paper. Print one copy of a report and distribute it around the office if everyone needs to read it. Print on both sides of the paper and try to proofread on the screen more. Add a note to the bottom of your emails to ask recipients to consider the environment before printing.

• Encourage recycling. Make recycling convenient and easy for your staff by setting up recycling bins in accessible areas. Then buy recycled paper, ink cartridges, and plastics.

• Switch to fair trade coffee in the office. Most of the coffee we drink pays coffee producers less than they deserve, with more money going to the “middlemen.” Coffee growers gain 11 cents for every dollar spent on a regular cup of joe, compared with 28 cents for every dollar when you buy fair trade.

• Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent ones. Natural Resources Canada estimates that if every Canadian household replaced one incandescent bulb for a compact fluorescent, it would save more than $73 million a year on our collective energy costs — equivalent to taking 70,000 cars off the road for a year. Fluorescent bulbs not only use less energy, they last longer too.

• Carpool or allow employees to telecommute once a week. Benefits include saving on gasoline consumption, reducing stress on infrastructure, and lowering carbon emissions.

• Buy environmentally-friendly cleaning products. There are many green options for cleaners, soaps, and detergents that will reduce the amount of toxic chemicals released in the atmosphere.

• Write a company green policy. Launch a green campaign to make sure everyone is on the same page. Staff will be more enthusiastic and supportive of your policy if they know how and why they’re doing it.

Implementing these ideas will get your customers talking and boost morale in the office.

Consult with staff and see what else they can come up with to take care of the planet.

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