10 tips for creating an eco-friendly small business

A photo of Kat Crabill, founder of Nurdle in the Rough, standing with her dog on a beach in front of a pile of plastic

Nurdle in the Rough Jewelry founder Kat Crabill got the inspiration for her small business by strolling the beaches of Hawaii. Instead of finding tranquility, she was perplexed by waves of plastic washing in with every tide. In that moment, Crabill discovered a sustainable business opportunity — repurposing the plastic pieces into eye-catching statement jewelry.

Over the last three years, Crabill has learned a lot about eco-considerations for small businesses and the future of conscious consumerism. She recommends the following 10 tips for any small business focused on reducing environmental impact and providing value to customers who want to be eco-friendly.

10 tips for creating an eco-friendly business:

1.    Ask your customers for input and embrace change

Small businesses have the luxury of being able to make changes quickly and reinvent the way things are done in-house. Ask your customers and your employees if they have ideas for what they would like to see change. I often use social media because it is a great way to facilitate two-way conversations and connect directly with my customers.


2.    Align core values

Take the time to learn your suppliers' and service providers' values. Make sure you are working with other businesses and suppliers who will take action to protect the environment.


3.    Design packaging with the environment in mind

Your product can look good while protecting the environment. If your product requires packaging, design it in a way which makes it compostable or recyclable — your customers will appreciate eco-friendly and minimal packaging.


4.    Consider your carbon footprint

When possible, choose a local supplier to cut down on your company’s carbon footprint. This will support both your town’s economy and our environment.


5.    Inform and educate your partners

Encourage others to go green and reevaluate their current shipping methods. Don’t be afraid to ask your suppliers to use less packaging or more efficient packing materials.


6.    Provide incentives for customers

Help your customers understand how they should dispose of your packaging after they've used it. Offer solutions or reward programs that will encourage your customers to recycle.


7.    Seek eco-friendly alternatives for your business production

Go the extra mile and find alternatives to items that you use in your production or business. These alternatives might be more expensive, but your customers will willingly pay when they are supporting a business who is keeping our planet healthy for the future.


8.    Make conservation part of your company culture

Harness the power of your small business to support change by putting policies and infrastructure in place that reduce environmental impact. Find ways your company can give back by conserving water, sponsoring community cleanups, or donating to charities that align with your company's mission. As an example, you can check out the FedEx environmental sustainability commitment.


9.    Advocate for the community’s environment

Get involved and speak up in your local council on issues that affect your environment. Use your business expertise to bring professional experience to the table.


10.    Support your employees

When you encourage those who rely on you to live well, they will be happier and more able to make decisions that improve their health and the environment. Pay your employees well and give them proper breaks so they don’t seek quick and cheap options which usually don't equate to environmentally friendly choices.