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green online business

10 Ways to Make Your Online Business Green

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As people become more aware of their impact on the environment, consumers want to support green businesses. System engineers help product-based businesses become environmentally-friendly, but who can help create a green online business?

I’ll be that person for now.

Since launching Getaway Girl, I’ve learned several creative, easy, and profitable ways to make my online business green. These methods are too good to keep as a secret, so I’m sharing them with you!

Why should you care about making your online business green, though?

Green Online Businesses Earn More $$$

Turn your business green because it’s the right thing to do. If that doesn’t convince you, at least make your business green because it’ll turn more profit.

As revealed here and here, Millennials and Generation Z expect brands to be socially responsible at higher rates than any previous generation. In fact, 73% of Millennials are willing to spend more money if it means they’re purchasing from a sustainable brand. Since Millennials contribute $1 trillion in consumer spending in the U.S. alone, and Generation Z is now entering the workforce and contributing to the consumer spending, brands will lose money if they don’t adapt and become socially responsible.

In fact, Millennials and Generation Z believe climate change is the most important issue of our time. No wonder we think this since our planet is covered in plastic and the Arctic is on fire. Our environmental impact reaches every corner of the planet, including the deepest parts of the ocean, as seen in this video.

We are in the middle of an environmental crisis and consumers care. They want brands to care, too. One day, only environmentally-conscious businesses will outlast their competition. Until then, making your online business green will distinguish you from the competition, foster customer loyalty, and increase profits.

If you’re like me, you’re a small online business owner balancing a hundred different tasks while still trying to socialize, read, cook, workout, travel, etc. We don’t need anything else on our plates! Thankfully, online businesses are easy to make eco-friendly. It only takes a few simple steps and habits. These ten steps will make your online business green in no time.

1. Switch Your Online Business to Green Hosting

Every online business needs a hosting provider and thankfully there’s an eco-friendly version. Meet Kualo, a hosting and email service provider powered by 100% clean energy.

Hosted by Kualo

The internet is a “carbon-emitting monster,” so something as simple as switching to a hosting service using renewable energy makes a big impact.

They’ve even designed their business infrastructure and systems to be as an environmentally-friendly as possible. From energy efficiency to a completely paperless system, Kualo is the greenest web hosting platform available.

A two-year agreement for WordPress hosting starts at $161.82, which is a price on-par with competitors like BlueHost and SiteGround.

Click here to learn more about Kualo and make the green switch!

Getaway Girl’s promise: My current hosting expires in July 2021, at which point I will switch to Kualo. Until then, I will include the approximately 1,200 hours I spend online annually working on the blog in my annual carbon offset calculation.

2. Plant Trees with Every Search

There’s a version of Google that plants trees for every search you make. It’s called Ecosia and the search platform is probably my favorite discovery of the year.

On average, 45 searches are required to plant one tree. In nearly one year of searching with Ecosia, I’ve planted over 20 trees from searches made on my laptop.

I find the search results are as good as Google’s results, if not better. One day, I hope Ecosia adopts Featured Snippets because that’ll make the interface even more user-friendly.

To make the most impact, set Ecosia as your automatic search platform. That way, whenever you type an inquiry in your browser, it’ll automatically search with Ecosia.

There’s also an Ecosia app so you can plant trees whenever you search from your phone. I recently downloaded the app and made enough searches to plant a tree in one week!

Ecosia is a transparent company and they’re constantly striving to improve, which is something I wish more companies would try. For example, they recently published this video explaining how they’re now a carbon positive company (meaning they putting more resources back into the planet than they’re using!). Ecosia’s efforts to become an even more green online business are inspiring. They’ve earned my loyalty and respect.

Getaway Girl’s promise: Continue using Ecosia!

3. Donate A Portion of Your Income

It seems like every week I see a new product with the 1% symbol, meaning the company donates 1% of their profits to environmental non-profits seeking solutions for our climate crisis. The symbol means the company does this with the management and supervision of the organization 1% For The Planet. This video explains what exactly 1% For The Planet does, but they essentially bring environmental non-profits and businesses together to find environmental solutions.

The keyword there is solutions. There’s a big mess to clean up, but we must first clean up our acts by reducing and reusing and finding ways to sustainably adopt these practices for our busy lifestyles.

If you’re like me, your green online business is a reflection of you, and your income isn’t high enough to commit to the organization’s business-donor requirements. Instead, you can donate as an individual on behalf of your business.

You can donate with the help of 1% For The Planet, which requires an annual fee. Or, you could simply commit to donating 1% to a non-profit organization of your choice that helps the environment in some capacity. 1% For The Planet lists their approved non-profits online if you need help finding an organization.

Getaway Girl’s promise: Every tax season, starting in 2020, I will donate 1% of my total income (including income from Getaway Girl, side gigs, and my full-time job) to a non-profit organization finding solutions for the environment.

4. Go Paperless

Many people assume online businesses are already paperless, but you’d be surprised at how many post-it notes and sheets of paper I still used before addressing my business’ waste. There are numerous ways to go paperless, but here are a few ideas you might not have thought of that’ll easily make your online business green:

  • Refuse receipts or ask for an email receipt. Since I purchase 99% of services and things with a credit card or Venmo, I can easily track my spending online. In fact, receipts are toxic so it’s recommended not to touch them anyway! Refusing receipts are better for the environment and your health. If you need a receipt, ask for an email receipt instead.
  • Take notes online. The internet has a variety of online note-taking platforms, such as Google Drive and Evernote. I use Google Drive to store and organize everything in my business, including a running list of blog post ideas and my weekly to-do list.
  • Edit using Grammarly instead of pen and paper. I used to edit all my school papers by printing them out and editing with a red pen. For some reason, I find mistakes easier by editing with a pen and paper. When I launched my Getaway Girl, I realized this pen and paper practice wasn’t sustainable. Now I use Grammarly to catch mistakes. I’ll also read the post aloud to check for voice, tone, and flow. Finally, if a post needs serious help, I’ll make each sentence a separate paragraph and deconstruct the post line by line.
  • Use paperless business cards. There are a few ways you can do this. You could create a branded image on Canva that looks like a business card, including your name, website, and social media handles. Whenever you meet a new person or business, text or email them the image. You could also include a quick personal note to remind them of your discussion, such as “I enjoyed chatting with you about your female-only sailboat retreats! I look forward to communicating with you about this further.” Another paperless business card idea is to save a QR code that links to your website on your phone. When trading contact information, have the person you’re talking to open their phone’s camera app and hover the camera lens over the QR code. You should suggest they DM you or bookmark your website so they don’t forget it! No more money spent on business cards!

Getaway Girl’s promise: I still have business cards to use (it’d be wasteful to recycle them without using them), but I also have a branded image with a QR code saved to my phone.

5. Shut Off Your Computer At Night

While in college, I wouldn’t turn off my laptop for months. Even though I have a Mac and it takes 15 seconds to turn off and turn back on, turning my computer off at night took too much time and effort.

This is so bad for the computer! And pretty lazy…

Turning off your electronics at night, especially your computer, keeps it running smooth for as long as possible. This means less possibility of a random crash and losing all your work, less money spent on replacement computers, and less electronic waste in our landfills.

Charging electronics requires carbon and other non-renewable resources. By shutting off the computer at night (or whenever you’re not using it for long periods of time), you’re preserving the computer’s charge and reducing your carbon output.

While you’re at it, unplug chargers whenever they’re not in use. This reduces the electric flow and, therefore, the carbon output. Even simple acts can make your online business green!

Getaway Girl’s promise: I’ve been consistent at shutting off my computer for a few weeks now and am getting better at unplugging all my chargers when they’re not in use.

6. Repair, Buy Used, and Recycle

There’s no doubt an online business requires a lot of expensive electronics. In addition to my laptop, I carry quite a bit of photography gear and a bag to carry and protect it all.

While the newest gadget looks awesome and you’ve saved your money for a splurge, take the time to find a used alternative. There are plenty of used cameras, computers, and other gadgets in great condition on Facebook Marketplace. A model one or two generations older won’t make a big difference in the product’s usability. You’ll save Earth’s finite resources and money when shopping used! You can read more about my buying philosophy here and how shopping used is good for the environment here.

Even better for the environment than buying used is fixing something you already own. Nowadays, it’s often more expensive to repair something than to buy a brand new one. It doesn’t hurt to try, though! You’ll support a local repair shop and reduce the need for Earth’s finite resources.

If a piece of your gear is ready for gadget heaven, research the appropriate way to recycle the product. If you’re unsure where to recycle, search the company’s website or email them. Stores like Best Buy or Staples often offer tech recycle systems as well. You could also use Ecosia to search for a local tech recycling center and plant a tree while you’re at it.

Finally, even if you think a piece of technology is beyond repair, try selling or giving it away. You never know when someone has the skills necessary to repair the gadget.

Getaway Girl’s promise: Most things I buy are secondhand nowadays, but I want to reach 100% secondhand, repurposed, or DIY-ed.

7. Switch Your Mid-Day “Pick Me Up”

No matter if you drink tea, chocolate, or another drink, use a reusable cup for all your work drink needs. Coffee cups are lined with plastic and can’t be recycled unless you wash the cup with soap to clean the interior plastic. So much for that recycling symbol, huh?

Many coffee shops offer a small discount if you bring your own cup, so it pays to reuse. It’s best to use a cup or mug you already own. If you don’t own one, check local thrift stores or Facebook Marketplace. If none of those come up, KeepCup is my preferred alternative to single-use coffee cups.

If you drink tea, switch to loose-leaf tea. Tea bags are often made with plastic, which makes them unsuitable for compost. Opt for locally-produced teas whenever possible. It’s the perfect opportunity to stock up while traveling to some of the world’s most popular tea regions!

If you drink coffee, try drinking less or switching to tea. Six of the ten coffee plant species are endangered due to habitat loss and climate change. You can help reduce the demand of these plants, therefore letting them recover, by not drinking coffee.

When coffee is your only fix, switch to a French press or other coffee method and avoid Keurigs and other coffee machines requiring single-use capsules. These capsules are near-impossible to recycle!

Getaway Girl’s promise: Switch to loose-leaf tea and continue using my reusable cup.

8. Work in Well-Lit Locations

Raise your hand if you’ve turned on a room’s lights even though it’s the middle of the day. *raises hand*

Entering some rooms in my house feels like walking into nighttime.

Lately, I’ve been more conscientious of working in well-lit areas and rooms so that I don’t turn on the lights. This could be as simple as opening the blinds and pulling back the curtains a little further. It could also mean changing your working location as the day progresses. I actually don’t mind this because it gives me a reminder to stand up after sitting in the same position for hours!

If there’s no hope for you poorly-lit apartment, at least switch to LED lightbulbs.

Getaway Girl’s promise: I’ll think twice before turning on a light during the day for now on.

9. Shop Reusable and Recycled Office Supplies

Sometimes a hard-working woman juggling a thousand things needs a handwritten to-do list or planner or sticky notes to keep her sane. I get it. That’s me.

I might be the only Generation Z-er who still handwrites to-do lists and maintains her schedule in a paper planner. I’ve tried using to-do list apps and relying on my phone’s calendar, but they simply don’t work for me. The only way I get stuff done is by writing it down.

This isn’t very eco-friendly, but I’ve found ways to make it easier on the environment.

Buy as many paper products from recycled paper, including sticky notes and planners. If you can’t find any, create your own! Use Canva, Word, or another software to create your dream planner. Then, print it on recycled paper and sew a binding.

Leftover paper can be reused or recycled at the end of its life. You could shred paper and use it as litter box filling, add it to your compost for more carbon products, or use it as gift wrap or gift stuffing. If you’ve only used one side of the sheet, cut the pages up into note-sized pages and use it to write down your grocery list or notes to roommates. Dye the page to create a bookmark. Use old paper as crinkly stuffing for a homemade pet toy. Your old paper could easily become a fun weekend project with a little creativity (and an Ecosia search).

Finally, switch to a wooden pencil that can be composted at the end of its life or a fountain pen, which can be refilled.

Getaway Girl’s promise: I bought a fountain pen!

10. Host a Team Event

If your team is located near you, volunteering together for a local environmental organization could be a fun team-bonding activity. Be sure to log the event on social media to share with fans and inspire them to take action, too!

If your team isn’t located near you, host a community event open to others in your industry. This would double as a networking event and give-back program. How cool would it to be see a bunch of travel bloggers or photographers give back together?! In fact, my goal in 2020 is officially to host a travel blogger volunteer event. I’m pretty sure it’d be the first of its kind.

If you’re a creative with a following (some may call this an influencer), consider hosting a volunteer event with your community! Ask your followers what their community needs most since they’re the experts and what they’d enjoy participating in. This is a more inclusive meet-up idea, too. Most meet-ups are hosted at bars or other locations that encourage alcohol and many people can’t or don’t drink alcohol. The only peer pressure with volunteering is to do more good, and that’s peer pressure I can stand behind.

Getaway Girl’s promise: Host a travel blogger volunteer event.

Which of these tips are you ready to implement to make your online business green? Do you have any other tips? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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