Green entrepreneurs are a growing force in the start-up world, and they aren’t just coffee shop owners and locavore grocers. Small business owners in every sector of the economy are discovering that going green is not just better for society; it’s also better for customer satisfaction, as well as the bottom line. Here are a few of the most effective ways entrepreneurs are leading the way in environmental stewardship.
1. Retro Furnishings
Start-ups across the country are cutting their initial costs by reusing and recycling old light fixtures, desks, giant cable spools, discarded pallets and more to furnish and style their offices (or garages), instead of splurging on new offices and fancy furniture. It’s hip, cheap, and efficient, allowing entrepreneurs and their staff to function like they need to, without spending much money. It also saves the waste and cost of manufacturing new products and keeps those old furnishings out of the landfill.
2. Cutting Out Cars
By thinking carefully about where they buy their office space, and using company bikes or public transit to get around, greentrepreneurs (BPGL calls them “ecopreneurs“) save time and money, reduce pollution, and ensure they’ll never have to hunt for a parking spot again.
When central locations aren’t feasible, eco-conscious entrepreneurs can organize carpools, or accommodate telecommuters. With multiparty video chat and dozens of ways to connect, many information/service-based employers find that they don’t need the expense and environmental strain of physical office space at all.
In the 2000s, many offices went paperless, but computing power is the new inefficiency to root out of the modern office. Electronics are a significant energy drain, and they’re environmentally destructive to build — so pushing an office’s computing and storage needs to the cloud allows small businesses to get the same jobs done with less expense and less waste.
Cloud accounting, streaming, collaboration, and storage can allow a start-up to run leaner, cleaner, and more profitable than attempts to perform those functions in-house. Google offers free cloud office programs and storage, and companies like Adobe offer greatly discounted software suites to those willing to subscribe to their cloud service.
4. Energy Efficiency
Far ahead of government regulations involving the manufacturing of incandescent bulbs, entrepreneurs have of necessity been using more energy-efficient forms of lighting. From CFLs and LEDs to larger windows and skylights, energy efficient lighting is a no-brainer.
Green-power strips that intelligently turn off computers, copiers, and other electronics once the working day is over are also a solid investment, since these devices tend to use nearly as much power in their idle state as they do during the workday.
Investing in energy efficient products not only helps long-term costs go down, but tax breaks and utility company rebates help reduce the initial cost of upgrading lights and other electronics. All of this ensures that utility costs and carbon footprints are reduced.
5. Eco Businesses
Then there are the entrepreneurs who are on the forefront of green production. From solar cell production and wind farms to organic resellers to a couple of Berkeley guys using old coffee grounds to grow hydroponic mushrooms, new companies are starting daily that are rooted in being and selling green.
Companies like these benefit from tax credits, positive public relations, an increasingly eco-aware consumer base, and the knowledge they’re doing their part to help the environment.
Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)
About the Writer
Patricia Shuler is a Mobile Moo staff writer from Oakland, California. Sheís an admitted tech-junkie who ís quick to share her honest opinion on all things consumer electronic — including up-to-date news, user reviews, and no-holds barred opinions on a variety of social media, tech, computer, and mobile accessories topics.
Do you spray toxic chemicals around baseboards, leave poisoned bait in dark corners, bug-bomb your home and office, or douse yourself (and your kids) with DEET to keep pests at bay? Using pesticides might rid your surroundings of pests, but what are you doing to your health in the process? ~ Julia Wasson, Publisher
Studies indicate that a lot of the pesticides that were used even a decade ago can present short-term and long-term poisoning symptoms in both people and animals. Some of the safest pest control products can be made at home in your own kitchen, while at other times you’ll need to use a company that specializes in organic non-toxic pest control solutions. Here are some ideas for approaching pest control in healthier ways.
Prevention is Part of the Cure
There are a lot of things you can do to prevent a pest infestation from occurring or to keep one from becoming worse. By making sure that there are no food particles around for either insects or rodents to eat, you’ll have a running start at prevention.
Take the trash out every night, and wipe down your cupboards and kitchen counters daily to get rid of all the sources of food. Sweep the floor often and go through your kitchen cupboards and pantry to make sure that all food supplies are sealed tightly.
An easy way to deter insects and rodents from entering your home or letting the ones that are already there know that they are not welcome is to use bay leaves. These are readily available at the grocery store, and bugs and small rodents simply hate them! Place these leaves around your kitchen, and you’ll start to see fewer of these pests.
Dried whole nutmeg, chili pepper, mint, cloves, and basil are also effective for natural pest control and will send a message out to insects and small critters that they are not allowed in your home.
Because these are natural food substances, you won’t have to worry about accidental poisonings and can safely position them near any food supplies. (Do be careful to keep them out of reach of toddlers, of course. Bay leaves and chili peppers can cause severe discomfort if ingested.)
Certain essential oils, such as peppermint and citronella, will also help to keep the pest population under control in your home. Dilute these oils with water and spray the areas where the pests are entering your home or where you have seen them lurking.
Ants and fleas hate vinegar. To control fleas in your home, add one teaspoon of vinegar per quart of your pet’s drinking water. This will help keep the fleas off your pet while you are busy vacuuming them up around the house.
For ant control, wash your floor, cabinets, and counter tops with equal parts of water and vinegar.
When You Need the Experts
When an infestation becomes too big to handle, it’s time to call in professionals. Be sure they use only natural, organic pest control products. Most pest-control companies today have these products available and are more than willing to use them to help get your pest problems under complete control.
Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)
About the Writer
It’s spring in Iowa, and the smell of the moist, black soil calls out to the gardener in all of us. Ever since the first hint of bulbs peeking through the dirt, I’ve been itching to get started planting an organic garden. On Friday, the temperature was 60 degrees Fahrenheit. By Saturday, it was 35 degrees and dropping. The Weather Channel showed a big snowstorm coming in a few hours. I decided I’d better hurry.
I checked the garage to find wood to cut into stakes and a shovel to turn over the soil. I got out my skill saw, an extension cord, and a hammer. Then a friend and I jumped into my son’s Jeep and headed to the lumberyard.
I purchased two, 15-foot-long by 50-inch-wide, steel-grid fencing sections. These had to be flexible enough that I would be able to bend them into an arch, but sturdy enough not to collapse under the weight of vines and produce I plan to grow on them. The panels cost about $35.00 each, so I was now $70.00 into my experiment, plus gas and time.
“Won’t fit,” the kid at the lumberyard had said, watching my friend and me lift the grids onto the Jeep. He wasn’t prepared for our ingenuity. We tied the panels on the roof, padding it with our coats to protect the paint. (Obviously, we didn’t plan very well. If you decide to do this, bring along some old towels or a blanket for padding between your vehicle and the fencing sections.) This was only possible with plenty of rope, another $4.00.
Have you seen the movie Mad Max? That’s what the Jeep looked like, with the fencing grid curved down over the hood and tied to the front bumper. We would have been well protected should anyone want to throw a cinder block through our windshield. The whole adventure took about an hour — and the lumberyard is 15 minutes away.
Back at my house, we unloaded the sections onto the lawn. I went to work selecting the best location for the new trellis. My wife and I have a small lot — only 40 feet wide — squeezed between very close neighbors. Most of the backyard already has a perimeter of flowerbeds filled with perennials, so we weren’t anxious to disturb them.
We keep the remaining lawn small on purpose, because we both hate to mow. We don’t like the pollution of belching fumes, and we hate the noise. We dislike starting a mower and storing a mower and tuning a mower. If I had my way, I’d rather pave my yard than mow it. My theory on saving the environment from the evils of lawn-mowing is to keep adding flowerbeds.
This year, we’ve decided to plant an organic vegetable garden. (It’s a great reason to rip out some more sod.) We’re working to become more sustainable, and gardening is a great step in that direction. It’s green living at an elemental level.
Because neither of us feels like crawling around on our hands and knees to garden, we decided to build a trellis and see how many vegetables we can grow on vines. We’ll try peas, beans, tomatoes, and squash, and any other climbing veggies we can find. (Got a suggestion? We’d love to hear from you.)
Most of our backyard is shady, so we chose to place the trellis in the center, halfway between a neighbor’s large garage on one side and our other neighbor’s large shade trees. I figure the trellis will get about 6 or 7 hours of sun on a good day.
Constructing the trellis was simple and took no more than half an hour from start to finish (not counting our Mad Max adventure). With the skill saw, I cut 8 wooden stakes out of some scrap 1″ x 2″ lumber. I then drove 2 stakes into the ground about 4 feet apart, parallel to our backyard sidewalk. I took one end of the first panel and butted it up against those stakes, then pushed the prongs on that end into the ground. Then I lifted the other end until the whole panel was standing almost vertical.
Pressing the panel down hard against the first two stakes, I then pulled down on the free end until it touched the ground. This left an arch about 6 feet wide and 6 feet high, giving us plenty of room to walk under and pick the produce yet to come. The prongs on the back end of the fencing held it in place in the sod while I secured it by pounding in two more stakes.
I repeated all this with the second panel, connecting a second arch to the first one. Ta-da! In less than two hours, from start to finish, I had built a 9-foot long, 6 1/2-foot tall, trellis. It was easy enough to do alone, but having an extra person would make the job even easier.
I was going to go ahead and break the sod, but heavy, wet snow began to fall. It was the 28th of March. That’s Iowa for you.
Watch for the further adventures of Joe the Gardener (not to be confused with Joe the Plumber), right here on BPGL.
Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)