Green Business Guide

Combining sustainability with small businesses is a win-win for business owners and communities. Sustainability is defined as, “the practice of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In short, sustainability means the ability of your business to endure. While many small business owners understand the benefits of going green, they aren’t sure how and where to begin. The following eco-friendly websites for small businesses will help you buy green and work green.

Making Your Business Greener

Going green starts by making small choices about your business operation. Little changes can have a big payoff in terms of protecting the environment and can save you money in the process. Click here for 30 ways to make your business greener.

Commercial Recycling and Waste Reduction

According to the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), the business sector generates more than half of the solid waste in California (approximately 68 percent of waste disposed of). While significant commercial recycling already occurs, much of the commercial sector waste disposed of in landfills is clean enough to be recycled. To learn more about how businesses can divert waste from landfills, thereby reducing greenhouse gas, click here.

Energy Star for Small Businesses

Whether you own your building or are a tenant, you typically need lighting, heating, air conditioning, power for office equipment, and other services to stay in business. With free, unbiased information and technical support from ENERGY STAR, you can more easily improve your company’s financial performance by reducing energy waste and energy costs, while protecting the earth’s environment. ENERGY STAR has specific information for various small business types: Grocery & Convenience Stores, Healthcare, Home Based Businesses, Lodging, Office, Retail, Restaurants, Service & Product Providers, Small and Medium-Sized Manufacturers. Click here for Energy Star Small Business Guide.

Energy Star Building Manual

The ENERGY STAR Building Manual is a detailed strategic guide to help you plan and implement profitable energy-saving building upgrades. You can maximize energy savings by sequentially following the five-building upgrade stages. Click here for Energy Star Building Manual.

While much of the focus on the environmental practices of companies has focused on large corporations, smaller firms, which make up 98 percent of all companies in the U.S., have a key role to play. Although they may individually be small resource users and waste emitters, they cumulatively are a force, environmentally speaking. offers valuable case studies and articles that discuss various topics of the green revolution. Click here to go to

Green America

Green America is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on the importance of protecting the environment and establishing a sustainable society. Click here to go to Green America.

Cool California Small Business Toolkit

To facilitate voluntary greenhouse gas emission reductions in a cost-effective way, a toolkit has been developed to help small businesses save money and limit their environmental impact. This toolkit consists of the following elements: Carbon Footprint Calculator, Money Saving Actions, Case Studies, Rebate$ and Incentive$, Award Program, Informative Resources. Click here to go to Cool California.

Green Business Guide

Making Your Business Greener
Going green starts by making small choices about your business operation. Little changes can have a big payoff in terms of protecting the environment. Following is a list of things that almost all businesses can do to operate in a more environmentally sustainable way:

  1. Lower your electric bill by putting storefront window display lights on timers instead of leaving lights on all night long.
  2. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs.
  3. Reduce the amount of packaging used for customers’ purchases.
  4. Skip the bag by giving customer a choice by asking if they want a bag or offer small discount for customers who bring and use their own bags.
  5. Recycle the boxes and packing material in which product is shipped to your business.
  6. Offer in-store recycling for products you sell.
  7. Offer in-store workshops on green lifestyle related to your business. For example, a clothing store might offer a workshop on making messenger bags out of discarded clothing.
  8. Retrofit with a programmable thermostat to save energy when business is closed.
  9. Buy locally for as much as possible of your merchandise, services, and supplies.
  10. 10. Install LED EXIT signs.
  11.  Install motion sensors to activate interior lights, display case lights, and exterior security lights.
  12. Conserve water by replacing toilets with new high-efficiency toilets.
  13. Provide incentives to employees who commute to work by public transportation, carpooling, biking or walking. Get creative – provide preferred parking for carpoolers, offer transit passes, offer flextime, etc. Provide showers and lockers for employees who bike, run, or walk to work, and bike racks or other secure storage for cyclists.
  14.  Provide bikes for employees to run errands on or go to lunch.
  15. Use recycled paper and make double-sided copies to conserve paper.
  16. Recycle toner and inkjet cartridges from computer printers, fax machines, copies, and cash registers.
  17. Unplug electronic devices by using power strips with on-off switches and turn the entire power strip off when the devices plugged into it aren’t being used.
  18. Use Energy Star-rated equipment and appliances.
  19. Detox your business by using non-toxic cleaning supplies.
  20. Donate unused, nonreturnable items to local nonprofit organizations rather than throwing away.
  21. Switch to hybrid, electric, or other fuel-efficient vehicles.
  22. Go paperless by using electronic media – email, Facebook, Internet – instead of printed flyers or letters to reach your customers and advertise.
  23.  Go low, as in using low-Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paints, coatings, adhesives, and sealants.
  24. Lead by example by selling products made from recycled and/or re-sourced materials.
  25. Get an energy audit from Southern California Edison.
  26. Buy green by finding suppliers offering sustainable products.
  27. Join a green business network to find more ideas.
  28. Empower your employees to find new ways of making your business greener.
  29. Create a written sustainability policy or plan for your business and communicate it to your customers and suppliers.
  30. Analyze your specific business type for more sustainable practices. Grocery stores, for example, might switch to more energy-efficient refrigerators and freezers; restaurants could buy local produce.