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Green Business Practices Remain An Important Goal For SMBs

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 4/18/2012

Small and medium-sized businesses continue to look for ways to become more eco-friendly despite cost concerns.

As the small business community slowly plods toward economic recovery, you would think that eco-friendly business practices might be the last thing on the minds of business owners eager to expand their bottom lines. But according to the Office Depot Small Business Index, "green" continues to be a big priority for small companies.

Office Depot Small Business Index Green Small Businesses Survey Result

In a recent survey of small business owners, nearly two-thirds (61%) reported that they are actively pursuing green initiatives and 70 percent expect their companies to become more environmentally conscious over the next two years.

The primary ways SMBs are attempting to increase their environmental stewardship efforts include: recycling (82%), waste reduction (72%), energy-efficient purchases (61%), recycled product purchases (60%), non-toxic product awareness (43%) and reduced water usage (39%).

The products SMBs are most interested in transitioning to a more eco-friendly program cover a range of common office products like ink and toner cartridges, paper products, cleaning chemicals, lighting and electronics. The market has responded in kind, offering myriad green-friendly products -- from green business cards to laptop bags made from recycled materials -- all easily available to any business owner who wants to build a green, environmentally-friendly small business.

However, SMB owners indicate that cost concerns present a serious barrier to greener business practices -- approximately four out of ten owners worry that becoming more environmentally friendly will ultimately mean higher costs for their companies.

"Many people think that going greener will cost more, but that's not necessarily the case," said Yalmaz Saddiqui, Chief Green Advocate at Office Depot. "Customers can look at purchasing energy-efficient lights and computers, remanufactured printer cartridges and a wide range of greener supplies that cost less than less-green alternatives."

Other concerns that may limit SMBs' environmental agendas include a lack of eco-friendly product options, product quality concerns and lack of time to explore/implement green product alternatives.

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