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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Small Businesses Don't Have the Green to Go Green

Small businesses are taking small steps to become more environmentally friendly, according to the Small Business Index survey by Wells Fargo and Gallup. The majority said they are doing at least "everything that can be justified by cost.” However, 67 percent think their customers will not pay more for environmentally friendly goods and services. In April 2007, 49 percent thought customers would pay more. 

Only 37 percent of respondents actively show their green credentials to customers, down from 47 percent in April 2007. The number one reason for showing their green credentials was "as part of a personal commitment or responsibility." The second reason was for public relations purposes, and the third reason was attracting customers.

One-third of the respondents said the current economic situation affected their plans to become more environmentally friendly. Seventeen percent said their companies are doing "very little or nothing at all"to become environmentally friendly. 

There is good news. Over the last year, almost 90 percent participated in recycling, and over three-quarters (77 percent) switched to more environmentally friendly products. Thirty-two percent said they used some form of alternative transportation (other than a car).

Forty-five percent said they assessed how much energy their company uses. Sixty-eight percent switched to energy-saving appliances, light bulbs or vehicles. Forty-five percent percent believe specific actions can be taken by their company to improve environment.

The survey has been conducted for the last 23 quarters. The current survey was conducted on January 22-February 2. It was based on 604 small business owners across the U.S.

“Going green’ has been good for the environment, and even better for our bottom line,” said Marion Hook, owner of the Adobe Rose Inn, a bed and breakfast in TucsonArizona. “We know that the money we’ll save long-term by making even small changes, such as using cisterns, florescent light bulbs and solar tubes, will far outweigh the short-term costs. We also find that our guests appreciate our efforts, and happy guests lead to repeat customers. ‘Going green’ is a part of a long-term strategy, and it will help keep our business financially sound, now and in the future.”

“At Wells Fargo we recognize the importance of integrating environmental responsibility into business practices and procedures,” said Marc Bernstein, head of Wells Fargo’s Business Direct lending and Small Business Segment. “We know that the contributions of small business owners are a vital part of the overall success of the economy, and in much the same way, we know their contributions can make a real difference in the state of the environment.”

Recent surveys indicate customers will pay for green products

Recent surveys indicate that customers are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products and services. A Forester survey said 18 percent of customers would pay more for environmentally products, and recent Carbon Trust research said customers think its important to buy from environmentally responsible companies. In a Yahoo survey, 77 percent described themselves as green, and 57 percent said they made a green purchase in the past six months. 

Four out of five respondents in an Opinion Research Survey said they are still buying green products and services despite the recession. In a 2009 Cone Consumer Environmental Survey, 34 percent said they are more likely to buy environmentally responsible products. Forty-four percent said their environmental shopping habits not changed much, and only eight percent said they are less likely to buy environmentally friendly products.

In a Consumer Electronics Association survey, 33 percent said they expect to make some type of green electronics purchage within next two years. Fifty-three percent said they would be willing to buy a television with green attributes, and 89 percent said energy efficiency would be a factor in choosing their next television.

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