Energy costs are a constant headache for many small-business owners. Even after cutting any wasteful usage, your monthly bill may keep rising with the prices of gas and electricity.
But there are ways out of the quagmire. Here’s how one U.S.-based small business is doing quite well by using renewable energy sources.
Organic Market Offers “Green” Incentives
Scott Nash started Mom’s Organic Market in 1987. He was just 22 at the time, with only $100 in capital. But he was committed to providing people with organic produce and sustainable seafood. More than two decades later, Mom’s has grown from a simple home-delivery service to a chain of retail stores scattered across the greater Baltimore-Washington area.
Seeking to do his part to protect the environment, Nash began to support the alternative energy industry as soon as he could. In 2011, for example, Mom’s purchased more than 13.6 million kilowatt hours of wind power in the form of renewable energy certificates. That was 5 million more kilowatt hours than Mom’s had purchased in 2010, and three times more power than the company actually consumed. According to Charis Egland-Smith, the company’s Environmental Coordinator: “We do so to support the growth and development of national wind energy. By purchasing extra, we are in a way, offsetting the brown energy consumed by our neighbors.”
But that’s not all.
The company provides its employees with information and incentives for leading a greener lifestyle at home, such as providing $3,000 toward the purchase of a hybrid vehicle, a 20 percent subsidy on Energy Star appliances and electric lawnmowers, and a free household package of compact fluorescent light bulbs, programmable thermostats, and more.
Mom’s also provides gift cards worth $35 to customers who sign up to buy their power from Clean Currents, a green energy supplier.
Mom’s buys energy from alternative sources and plans to install solar panels to help power three of its stores, according to Egland-Smith. The company also conserves energy by using LED lighting, biodegradable packaging, and highly efficient closed-door refrigeration units.
“Green business practices are what makes MOM’s a growing, successful, family owned and operated company,” says Egland-Smith. “Over the past five years, MOM’s has amped up its environmental initiatives, such as Plastic Surgery (a comprehensive storewide effort to eliminate unnecessary plastic waste), our Ban on Bottled Water, MOM’s Terrapass Your Gas Program (last year, MOM’s purchased offsets for 9,656.86 metric tons of carbon dioxide that customers’ cars emitted just by driving to and from MOM’s; that’s the equivalent of eliminating greenhouse emissions from 2,012 passenger vehicles! ), We Love Inflation (seasonal tire pressure service), in-store recycling drives, and more, and has gone from five stores to ten, with several more opening over the next 18 months.”
Mom’s Organic Market demonstrates that greener business practices aren’t just economically feasible, but can actually help gain customers’ loyalty and increase profitability.
EPA Partners With Small Businesses
This is just one example of a trend that appears to be growing. “Businesses of any size,” says Blaine Collison, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership, “can dramatically reduce their environmental impacts by using green power. We’re pleased to have hundreds of small businesses as partners who are demonstrating environmental leadership, which is becoming more important to consumers. And with several options to choose from — on-site systems, utility products, or renewable energy certificates — any business can make the switch to green power.”
To learn more, check out The Guide to Purchasing Green Power [PDF]. It’s free, and it provides details of how to buy green power for your business, the different types of green power available, and their benefits.