Small Businesses Become Advocates for Change

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This is a two-part post on how small businesses are making a difference in environmental policy.

Changing business practices is only one piece of the greening puzzle. Turns out that the time you invest in making a difference may be as valuable to environmental progress as installing new light bulbs. Small businesses can have a big impact on promoting change—not just within their businesses, but by working together to change attitudes, influence policy makers, and promote innovation.

Think nationally, think statewide—and think locally. Many issues related to sustainability and your business—from energy policy to recycling services—are addressed at a local level. And, its never been more necessary than now. With a stalled climate bill in Congress and anti-cleantech initiatives like Proposition 23 in California, America has never needed ecopreneurs to get involved more than now.

What can you do? You can work to ensure that your interests are represented and that you have a venue from which to comment on proposed legislation.

Use your influence as a business to drive policy change from within a membership organization:

□ Join a green trade association and push for greater advocacy (U.S. Green Building Council).

□ Join a national or local small business organization that has a green agenda, like SB-California or Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability. Or leave one that actively fights against environmental progress (…you know who you are…).

□ Join or start a green task force within your trade association.

□ Sign up for the National Small Business Association’s Action Network advocacy e-mail alerts that let you know how and when to send letters to your elected officials about important small business environmental issues. Then mobilize others to do the same.

□ Write, email or call your elected officials and the media.

As new environmental laws that affect your business are proposed and introduced, a good membership organization—which, in some cases, will be a trade association—will be a source of valuable information and guidance. Conversely, and just as importantly, if the membership organizations to which you belong are not aggressively advocating for green public policy changes, let them know you think they should be or quit and let them know why. Or better yet, get involved in the organization. Small business alliances and associations can serve as a valuable platform for advocating for specific goals—such as funding for energy-efficient programs, tax credits that support small businesses, and innovations, such as on-bill financing. Even the massive trade association, the National Small Business Association, gets involved in some environmental advocacy.

So, Get involved. Join green business organizations. Strengthen your green requirements for suppliers. Provide customers with greener alternatives. You can be an changemaker.

Next Post: Using your leverage to affect change.

Photo: Nevit Dilmen from


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