Pitfalls to Avoid When Going Green with Your Business

Posted on September 7, 2020 | Last Updated On: July 12th, 2021 by

If you’re like many businesses in the U.S., the desire to go green is strong. The rewards of going green are many. There’s no denying that. From a personal and professional point of view businesses that adopt greener standards can be wildly successful.

The problem comes when you set out to implement those changes. There are a few pitfalls to consider and avoid, though, when going green with your business. Learning about them now can help you avoid them for a more successful “greening” of your business.

Failing to Get Your Customers Involved

One of the best things you can do for the planet when going green is to encourage others to do so. Get your customers involved by giving them reusable shopping bags with your business logo on them. Make it worth their while to use these shopping bags by offering a small discount or freebie item when they return to shop with your bags in hand. There are so many wonderful and different styles of reusable bags available, you’re sure to find one that is just right for your business needs.

Of course, that’s just one small way you can get your customers on board, but once they develop the habit your customers will often find they like the benefit it offers. Plus, customers are sure to love the fact that they don’t have a thousand plastic bags around the house to get rid of after a single shopping trip.

Forgetting to Take Advantage of Low-Cost and Free Green Options

Believe it or not, there are many ways your business can go green that cost little if anything. Something as simple as changing the light bulbs you use can net significant energy savings that not only cost you less, but also reduce your total energy consumption. It’s a win on all sides. Other cheap or free things you can do to “green” your business include:

  • Use less packaging. It creates less waste and costs you less.
  • Switch to cleaning products for your business that are better for the planet.
  • Use paper products that have been recycled. This includes things like packaging, printing papers, and recycled paper shopping bags.
  • Stop using plastic bags. The damage these bags generate for the planet, the oceans, and so many of the Earth’s creatures makes these bags triply harmful.
  • Recycle. Even better, set up a recycling center on your property and encourage your customers to recycle too.
  • Consider buying used furniture, fixtures, and equipment. It’s not all about recycling. It’s also about reducing waste and reusing items. Buying used helps on both fronts.
  • Conserve water. It’s one of the most precious resources on the planet. Use it wisely when operating your business, and make sure your employees know to conserve water whenever they can.

These simple things do not cost a lot and may end up saving your business big money on the things you do every day anyway. They can make a huge difference in your bottom line and go a long way to creating a greener workplace.

Having an All or Nothing Mentality

It’s great to decide to go green with your business. It’s even great that you’re eager to dig in and ready to get started. But it is also important to remember that even Rome wasn’t built in a day. In fact, the rise of Rome took several centuries. Your business can afford to work toward your green goals one step at a time. Start with the small steps and adopt larger, more costly, steps as you enjoy smaller successes along the way.

The flip-side of this is that you shouldn’t let challenges and setbacks completely turn you away from your goal of creating a greener business. Rome didn’t fall in a single day either. In fact, it took another series of missteps from leaders over several additional centuries to make that happen as well. The bottom line is that an all or nothing mentality can destroy your efforts to make your business a greener place before you can even really get started.


Greenwashing is a pitfall you want to avoid at all costs. It is essentially making false claims about being environmentally friendly without actually doing what it takes to make your business better for the planet. Making false claims about the environmental friendliness of your business can leave your customers feeling as though you’ve cheated them or deliberately attempted to mislead them and it spells bad things for the future of your business.

Of course, because so many businesses have engaged in this practice in the past, you must back up your environmental friendliness claims with facts, figures, and evidence rather than sentiment and vague insinuations such as, working with independent organizations to seek certifications for claims of organic materials and other claims your business may make on the “green” front.

Failing to Make it Relevant to Your Customers

While your business may have plenty of customers who are interested in making better environmental choices, the rest of the world is conflicted. They may want to do something for the planet, but they aren’t yet prepared to make a sacrifice to do so. They want to know what’s in it for them. Making green choices for your business does offer direct benefits to consumers that are well worth considering. It’s all in how you frame it. For instance, reducing packing materials can become “Hassle-free packaging” for your customers. It’s the little things, that can make a huge difference for the planet, but for people, it’s usually about what you can do to make their lives easier, more affordable, or less stressful.

Going green for your business is almost always a great plan. Avoiding these pitfalls can help.

About the Author

Douglas Lober Chief Product Specialist

Doug Lober is Co-Founder and Chief Product Specialist for ReuseThisBag.com. Lober is a passionate environmentalist with roots in the Southern California surf culture. Over the last 15 years, Lober has launched and supported a number of environmental initiatives around the land, sea, and air. Today, he continues to provide and support the use of eco-friendly promotional products for small, medium, and Fortune 500 companies. You can learn more about his extensive background in the industry on Linkedin.com, Quora.com, Instagram.com, Twitter and Alignable.com

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