As technology advances and automation increases efficiency, the traditional work environment is no longer the norm. According to the US Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy, about 81% of the 30 million small business owners are solopreneurs – freelancers, contractors, and consultants.
In a warming planet where 76% of Americans demand that companies take a stand against climate change, more businesses have developed significant measures to implement sustainable practices.
One may wonder how entrepreneurs can be more environmentally friendly when operating their own businesses without any employees. Here are six ways to go greener when it’s just one person.
1. Make Coffee at Home
Considering that typical passenger cars emit 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, an individual who’s ready to become a solopreneur makes strides to improve their carbon footprint from the start.
Skipping the Starbucks line and brewing coffee at home is the next step for solopreneurs to go green. On average, people use about 16 billion disposable cups each year. By making coffee at home, solopreneurs help cut back on unnecessary commuter emissions, as well as extra waste from cups and straws.
2. Advertise Digitally
The print industry has been hitting hard as more people consume information digitally. In fact, newspaper circulations decreased by 19% from 2019 to 2020.
As a solopreneur, advertising products and services online can save money, reach more people, and help the environment.
Advertisements in the digital era could include email lists and ads with local or regional news websites or other online outlets. Perhaps the most appealing, email marketing has a return on investment (ROI) of $42 for every dollar spent.
3. Opt for Eco-Friendly and Source Locally
Sometimes, professional items, such as business cards, documents, and letterheads, require printing. Solopreneurs may need other office materials to jumpstart their solo businesses as well, like pens, paper, and desk lamps.
Many companies offer sustainable services, including printing on recycled paper or other eco-friendly materials. Solopreneurs can look for recyclable office supplies and use energy-efficient LED light bulbs.
Another way to go greener is to work with local clients who have their own sustainability objectives they’re trying to meet. Solopreneurs should aim to develop a rapport with regional businesses to reduce their carbon footprints further and help boost their local economy.
4. Donate to Plant Trees
The world has lost over 197 million acres of forested areas since 1990, mainly due to agricultural expansion.
Another way solopreneurs can go green is by donating money to environmentally friendly causes. For example, every time a solopreneur works for a client on a project, they can donate a portion of their earnings to plant trees to address deforestation worldwide.
Many organizations work with businesses of all sizes to plant trees. Clients will appreciate knowing that, by choosing to work with a particular individual, their dollars will go to a great cause.
5. Gift Clients Sustainably
It’s a nice gesture to send gifts to clients to show appreciation for working together. Although gift baskets are beautiful and full of unique goodies, digital gifts are far more sustainable.
Solopreneurs trying to up their “eco” game should instead send email gift certificates for restaurants or stores. Personalized messages can still add a personal touch to demonstrate gratitude, and the gift itself is evidence enough that the working relationship matters.
6. Recycle Whenever Possible
According to industry reports, corporate recycling dropped from 63.6% to 55.9% From 2018 to 2019. Consumer recycling also saw a decline from 49.8% to 46.1%.
Solopreneurs should make an effort to recycle whenever it’s possible to do so. Little efforts, such as writing on both sides of post-it notes, using double-sided printing, and even having a designated paper recycling bin next to their desk, are all ways to become greener.
There are also recycling programs available in which solopreneurs can return their writing utensils, other office supplies, and packaging if they have collected them in bulk.
Small Changes for a Big Impact
Now you know how to go green as a solopreneur. Developing eco-friendly business practices at a larger corporation or small business, or especially as a solopreneur, can be a challenge. However, like anything, it’s about creating new habits and sticking to them. Picking one or two sustainable options can help any solopreneur go green and pave the way for more eco-friendly changes along the way.