Rooting for our planet!
How green entrepreneurship is planting the seeds of sustainability
Protecting our environment and stopping climate change requires the help of every single person on this planet. But even if we try to minimise our ecological footprint in our private lives, it is companies and businesses that must set a good example, as they are the ones with the greatest influence and the greatest impact.
The new hero being called in to save the planet is therefore green entrepreneurship and its weapons are innovative ideas and methods that promote sustainability and support the environment. But what makes a company green? What do I gain from this entrepreneurship and does it really have an impact on us and on climate change?
You will find this and much more information in this blog post.
What is green entrepreneurship anyway?
Simply said, green entrepreneurship means that companies try to develop innovative ideas and methods that can help the environment and society (Green Entrepreneuship. Definition, Characteristics & Importance, n.d..
Either new companies are founded or existing companies are transformed in such a way that they can have an environmentally friendly impact. These companies try to solve ecological or social problems sustainably and effectively in order to have a positive impact on the natural environment and still be financially profitable. It is important to find a balance between ecological and economic action, as many innovative start-ups fail due to growth and profit strategies (Gregori, p. et al, 2021).
The realisation of these ideas is usually associated with a certain level of risk and yet the financial stability of the company must be ensured. Companies often only take small steps at first, but these can have a huge impact. A good example would be switching from paper invoices to digital invoices. It may seem unimpressive at first glance, but it saves tonnes of paper waste every year.
To summarise, green entrepreneurship is about finding innovative ways to grow a business while protecting our planet (Green Entrepreneurship. Definition, Characteristics & Importance, n.d.).
What are the goals of green entrepreneurship?
Green companies try to be sustainable and still make a financial profit. They therefore ask themselves the following questions:
1) What do consumers want?
When you go into a shop to buy something, what do you think about? The product, of course! But in most cases, you don't just think about the object itself, but also about what it stands for and what it embodies. Companies know this too, because they have recognised that today's customers, investors and employees are not just looking for any old company. They want something that goes beyond that and allows them to be part of the change that is needed to preserve our environment. This is exactly where green entrepreneurship comes in. By choosing to join the green movement, companies can meet the ever-growing need for businesses that not only focus on their financial bottom line, but also their positive impact on the planet. It's like getting the best of both worlds: a thriving business and the satisfaction of knowing you're contributing to a better world (Snyder, 2023).
2) How can we strengthen the social community and bring about change?
As already stated, the core of green entrepreneurship lies in the bright and creative minds of those who are taking on the challenges of the climate crisis. Innovation is the magic word and green entrepreneurs are the inventors of the future. Their ideas and ventures not only benefit the planet, but also help to fulfil the needs of underserved communities. Companies that recognise their responsibility to the planet and are committed to their moral obligation instead of money are what make green entrepreneurship what it is. (Mulqueen, 2022).
3) How can we minimise our ecological footprint and still increase our efficiency?
Faster, further, better. Competition never sleeps and competition between companies means that they are always looking for ways to become more efficient. By adopting green practices and technologies, companies can not only reduce their environmental footprint, but also streamline their operations. This means that by switching to a green business philosophy, companies are not only on the right track morally but also save themselves a lot of money in the long run. (Snyder, 2023).
4) How can we maintain a competitive advantage and still protect the environment?
Competition in the business world can be fierce. Entrepreneurs know that they need something special to stand out. This is where green products and services come into play. Green entrepreneurs are trendsetters who offer products that are not only environmentally friendly, but also better than conventional alternatives. Customers are attracted to companies that are committed to the environment, and this gives entrepreneurs a competitive edge in the marketplace. So, it's not just about being environmentally conscious, it's also about being smart and staying ahead of the game (Mulqueen, 2022).
5) How can we contribute to the global fight against climate change?
The triumph of green entrepreneurship is sweeping the world. The transition of companies to green practices is not just about local impact, but also about joining the global mission to combat climate change and preserve natural resources for future generations. Entrepreneurs are realising that their actions today can impact the world of tomorrow. It's not just about business, it's about leaving a lasting legacy for all to benefit from (Rafi, 2021).
What can a company do to go green?
Green entrepreneurship is not only relevant for start-ups and new companies, existing companies are also starting to change. Established companies are evolving by integrating sustainability, introducing eco-technologies and reducing their environmental footprint. Start-ups, on the other hand, are building from scratch and developing innovative solutions with the environment at the centre. The combination of transforming existing businesses and creating entirely new ones is driving positive change in the economy.
However, becoming part of green entrepreneurship often requires existing companies to make some changes within their organisation. Business strategies need to be adapted to an environmentally conscious and sustainable way of thinking and their methods and procedures modified accordingly.
The following points show some examples of how traditional companies can take a step further towards green entrepreneurship:
But why is the energy transition not yet complete, when renewable energy sources have so many points in their favour?
Even these inexhaustible energy resources have a few disadvantages:
- The implementation of the energy transition is of course associated with various costs. In addition, at the beginning of the introduction of renewable energies, fossil energy sources were still heavily promoted and subsidised. However, this is no longer the case today; for example, small-scale systems for own electricity consumption are subsidised by the state and are therefore now even more economically advantageous.
- Even though renewable energy generation is in itself much more environmentally friendly than fossil energy, the construction of plants to generate this energy is often associated with massive interventions in nature. Habitats of fish and aquatic plants are threatened by the construction of hydropower plants and can attack or even destroy ecosystems. However, solar panels and electricity generation by wind turbines still offer some possibilities for expansion.
- Another point of criticism is the limited availability of renewable energies. If, for example, the weather does not play along, electricity shortages can occur because the energy generated is difficult to store. However, there are already some technical innovations that offer practicable and, above all, affordable solutions for the future. Pumped storage power plants, for example, can not only generate energy with the help of hydropower, but also store it. Ultimately, security of supply can be guaranteed in the long term through renewable energies. (Dlapa, 2022).
What can I do to make a change?
All EU member states are called upon to make their contribution to the energy transition, and all companies share responsibility. But each and every individual can also have an influence through his or her actions. There are many ways to minimise your own energy consumption. Here are a few tips on how YOU can help:
Developing Green Skills and Knowledge
Even though you have already learned a lot about energy management and renewable energies in this blog post, there is still a lot more information on this topic. So that you can become an energy management expert, here are a few tips for you on how to expand your green skills and knowledge:
Environmental sustainability must become part of the company's philosophy and be integrated into its missions. Companies must commit to sustainability and environmental protection. A so-called "green mission statement" is often very helpful here, in which companies define clearly understandable and comprehensible sustainability goals (Zujewski, 2022).
Companies introduce environmentally friendly practices and redesign processes to be more efficient and less resource-intensive. However, companies can also start small by, for example, making office lighting smarter (10 Ways to Make Your Business More Environmentally Friendly, 2022).
Adopt environmentally friendly technologies and innovations to improve efficiency and reduce emissions. This could include switching to renewable energy sources or introducing energy-saving technologies.
Ensure that the supply chain from material sourcing to transport and distribution is also environmentally sustainable. This may include working with suppliers who share their green values.
Developing and offering environmentally friendly products or services that meet the needs of environmentally conscious consumers. This may include using sustainable materials, reducing packaging or developing products with a longer lifespan.
Being transparent about their environmental efforts by reporting on sustainability initiatives and progress. This builds trust with consumers and stakeholders.
Ensuring compliance with environmental regulations and proactively seeking ways to exceed these standards.
But what do I have to do with green entrepreneurship?
This question is absolutely justified, so far we have only talked about the fact that companies have to change and what influence their behaviour has on the planet. But what does that have to do with me if I'm not an entrepreneur? As an individual, I can't influence anything anyway... can I? But you can!
The world is changing and people are becoming more aware of how their decisions affect the environment. They are willing to pay for products and services that help protect our planet. Green entrepreneurship is a whole new way of doing business that benefits everyone - the entrepreneur, the customers and the environment. (Green Entrepreneuship. Definition, Characteristics & Importance, n.d.). Green entrepreneurs are crucial to shaping a sustainable future. By buying green products, we support the company behind them, and by consciously choosing an environmentally friendly or even local product, we have a real impact on the demand and consequently the supply of companies.
In the long term, your career choice can also have a significant impact on maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship with our natural environment, after all, your work feeds into the companies and is another cog in the wheel that keeps the big picture going. You can consciously choose to work for a green company and help protect the planet through your work.
How can I contribute?
Below we explain how you can make a difference in combination with green companies.
- Just knowing that green entrepreneurship is good for the climate and the environment is of course not enough. These companies also need to make money in order to survive. This is where you as the end consumer come into play. When shopping, you can make a conscious decision to buy products that have been produced in a sustainable and climate-friendly way. For example, you can make sure that you prioritise local and seasonal food or buy second-hand or fair-trade clothing.
- Your career choice can actively contribute to a change. Choose a profession that has an environmentally friendly impact - there are many different areas you can choose from and try your hand at!
- However, it's not just your actions that are relevant to saving the planet, but also those of the people around you. Find out which green businesses could supply your everyday needs, try them out and recommend your best finds to your friends, family and work colleagues. Many people don't realise that there are local or environmentally friendly alternative suppliers for all kinds of products. Through your efforts, you can ensure that green companies continue to grow and thus actively help to bring about change.
- But as well as changing your consumer behaviour, you can also make the offer yourself. Think of innovative ideas to solve environmental problems - perhaps something small and simple or something big and life-changing! Maybe you'll lay the foundations for the next green company of the future!
However, the tips and ideas you have read so far are just the tip of the iceberg. There is much more to learn about green entrepreneurship and there are many skills and abilities that you can use to protect the climate and the environment through your consumer behaviour. Here are a few tips on how you can go even further:
- 1) Research which green companies there are in your immediate vicinity, what they produce and what they offer.
- 2) Find out how you can recognise green companies. Attention! Greenwashing is more present than ever!
- 3) Find out whether there are second-hand shops or clothes bazaars in your neighbourhood. You can always find a treasure or two here.
- 4) If you want to buy something from a sustainable company that seems very expensive to you and you could get it cheaper from a conventional company, think about how the low price came about and why the green company is charging so much more. Then weigh up for yourself whether the quality, the manufacturing process and so on are worth a slightly higher investment or not.
The impression is often conveyed that no matter how carefully waste is separated, no matter how often the bicycle is used instead of the cosy car or no matter how sparingly electricity is used, all the effort is made a thing of the past by large corporations. What remains is a feeling of resignation and powerlessness, because what can you do against such companies? But that is precisely the point: a company can only become big and, above all, remain big if it can sell its products. If money rules the world, then we as consumers also have the power to change the world. So: Use your money to profit the planet.
Try this quiz to see how much you know about Green Entrepreneurship!
- Green Enterpreneuship. Definition, Characteristics & Importance. (n.d.). enterpreneusdata.com. https://www.entrepreneursdata.com/green-entrepreneurship-definition/#1-green-entrepreneurship-definition [20.09.2023]
- Gregori, P., Holzmann, P. & Wdowiak M.A. (2021). For the sake of nature: Identify work and meaningful experiences in environmental entrepreneurship. Journal of Business research, 122, 488-501. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0148296320306147?via%3Dihub
- Mulqueen, T. (2022, 26. Oktober). What is sustainable entrepreneurship, and why does it matter? Entrepreneur. https://www.entrepreneur.com/leadership/what-is-sustainable-entrepreneurship-and-why-does-it/354955
- Rafi, T. (2021, 3. März). How entrepreneurs could shape the climate change battle. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/03/03/how-entrepreneurs-could-shape-the-climate-change-battle/?sh=353d3bfa28f3
- Snyder, V. G. (2023, 9. Juni). Sustainability for entrepreneurs — why it matters (and how to achieve it). Entrepreneur. https://www.entrepreneur.com/green-entrepreneur/sustainability-for-entrepreneurs-why-it-matters-and-how/447267
- 10 ways to make Your business more environmentally friendly. (2022, October 1). Microsoft. Retrieved October 10, 2023, from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/business-insights-ideas/resources/10-ways-make-business-more-environmentally-friendly
- Zujewski, B. (2022, 20. Oktober). How to create the perfect green Mission Statement. Green Business Bureau. https://greenbusinessbureau.com/blog/how-to-create-the-perfect-green-mission-statement/
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