A talk with students
Earlier this week I spoke at Eckerd College on the topic of “Starting a Green Business.” I was thrilled to be invited. As I head into my 5th year as a content writer for green businesses (and a certified green business myself!), I have far more to share with the students than before. And the truth is, I came away feeling wonderfully optimistic about the future of green business. Here’s why:
- Green business is part of the curriculum. I give a big shout out to Eckerd College and Professor Laura Singleton for teaching the course. It’s an intensive class to help students learn about, articulate and actually pitch a green business plan within one month. I like the fact that the class has such a practical, actionable focus. Green business is not some airy-fairy, far-away dream. It’s here now and we need more people like these students jumping in to the pool.
- There were no slackers in this crowd. Far from tapping away on their smartphones while I spoke, these students were engaged. I was bombarded with questions ranging from “How do you handle greenwashing?” to “Why do you think the government in Florida bans people from talking about climate change?” to “You say your hybrid car is a good thing, but what are we going to do about those toxic batteries?” These are thoughtful, informed questions that say good things about the students asking them.
- These students GET climate change. They know that climate change is real, and they know that they will likely bear the brunt of it. Not one student asked, “But isn’t climate change a hoax?” Not one student asked, “But won’t addressing climate change destroy our economy?” It’s a given. These students give me hope.
- Green business means big bucks. I shared with the class a recent article from The Guardian listing the 9 companies that currently make $1 billion a year or more with sustainable products. That’s “billion” with a “b.” Target is the tenth company that will join this ranking. While my green business is small, there will be a need for green businesses of every size and shape. That’s exciting for people looking for a place in a new, green economy.
- My New Year’s gift to you. Interested in exploring your own green business ideas? After class, I emailed Professor Singleton a list of 10 sources of information on green business to share with her students. This list barely scratches the surface, but it’s a good place to start:
- Climate Progress – this is more about climate change than business, but many business-related articles appear.
- American Sustainable Business Council – this group is located in D.C. and has a public policy bent, but the name says it all.
- WeMeanBusinessCoalition.org – this came out of the Paris Climate Talks. Mike Bloomberg (of Bloomberg Business Week) is one of the business people who has gotten involved in the green economy in a big way.
- Ceres.org – while this is a nonprofit, they work mostly with for profit-businesses to help them understand and adopt more sustainable business practices.
- Newsweek 2015 Green Business Rankings – normally I avoid lists like this, but it does give a sense of the sheer scope of green business today.
- Sustainable Brands.com – the link is to an article about the Circular Economy, but SB is one of the heavy hitters in the green business space.
- Sustainable Business.com – Rona Fried is the woman behind this site, and she curates a daily stream of interesting news articles about sustainable business.
- The Guardian Sustainable Business section– source of the “9 Billion Dollar Companies” article above.
- Triple Pundit.com – all the latest on balancing people, planet and profit – the Triple Bottom Line.
As I told the class, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Whether you are looking for ideas for a green business to start, a green job to train for, or a green company to work for there is plenty of opportunity. Be bold – don’t wait – you can do this!
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