I recently had the opportunity to connect with Moji Ojun, founder of Blue Daisi, a consulting firm that helps small businesses operate more sustainably, while potentially saving money and attracting new eco-conscious clients as a result. Moji was funded last year to work with several small businesses in the Seattle, Washington area to help them work towards becoming zero waste companies. I wanted to know how does a small business incorporate sustainability into its practices, when it has limited resources.
The goal for my 30 minute session with Moji was to explore opportunities to reduce the impact of my business on Mama Earth.
She asked about my current operational practices and I shared some of the strategies that I was already using to run Get The Bag more sustainably, including purchasing packing materials and supplies from companies that incorporate eco-friendly practices in their business operations and production processes. I’ve purchased boxes and supplies from EcoEnclose, Fantastapak and Company Box. Moji suggested a few more green fulfillment options.
- Noissue: branded tissue paper, stamps, tape, and more!
- EcoEnclose: zero waste + sustainable packaging options
- The Better Packaging Co.: even more sustainable packaging options to explore
- Sendle: affordable carbon-neutral shipping service
Moji also shared some new strategies that I should incorporate into our sourcing practices.
Sourcing – Lead With Your Values
As I continue to refine our standards for sourcing, identify 3-5 values that serve as criteria for the items that get included in a Get the Bag subscription box. Some examples: it must be made by a Black woman owned business, the packaging must be recyclable or compostable, and the business must be local to the region of your business. Of course, these are just examples. Please choose values that align with your vision for your subscription boxes. Some other resources for finding eco-friendly businesses (in addition to Get The Bag) are BLK + GRN , Green America Business Directory, Dolphin Blue and The Ultimate Green Store.
Customer Packaging Education and Guidance
Identify opportunities to encourage clients or gift recipients to want to reuse your boxes. We landed on an idea for Get The Bag that I think will be fun! Also, make sure to inform your clients on how to properly recycle the packaging if they decide to not reuse it. Make it as easy and clear as possible. One of our brands that we carry, Pretty Honest Candles, has launched its Vessel Recycling Program for its glass candle vessels. Other candle companies are offering candle making workshops to show you how to use the supplies to make your own candles by reusing a candle vessel. The key is to let your customers know that you are operating sustainably and guide them on how they can continue the cycle by properly disposing of or recycling the packaging.
Black and Green
You are likely already incorporating sustainable/eco-friendly practices in your family and business life. Old school habits such as cleaning with vinegar and baking powder, cooking fresh food, shopping for products made with natural ingredients, making your kids turn-off the lights when not in the room, getting the most out printer toner, repurposing scraps of paper to use as note pads, and courtesy of the pandemic - driving less. Moji says that our communities have a long history of living sustainably, it just looks different and is not associated with the terms you often hear in the environmental movement. In part due to our ancestral habits of living in respect in balance with and having respect for nature and in part out of neccessity due to having a zero-waste mentality and having to creatively repurpose the resources at our disposal due to limited resources.
Build Your Green Network
It ain't easy being green in a throw away, fast-moving and convenience seeking world. Sometimes you need motivation and a support system to help you on your journey. Moji can work with your business or organization to setup a Zero Waste Strategy Session to get things going. Also, consider joining Green America, a green business advocacy group, becoming a member of rePurpose Global or your local group of environmental justice advocates and green business organizations. There may be governmental and foundation grant dollars or tax credits available in your community to incentivize sustainable business practices. We'll explore adding a green business grant category to our funding guide.
Now go forth and be green!