How Starting Your Own Business Can Save The World

In: entrepreneur

15 Oct 2009

save_the_planetSo it turns out that today is Blog Action Day. The idea is that participating bloggers around the world all agree to write a post about the same topic. This year the topic is Climate Change.

At face value, this doesn’t seem a fitting subject for this blog, but trust me, it is. Many characteristics of corporate life have a negative impact on the environment. Let’s take a look at some of the ways the traditional work situation is bad for the planet.

Your Commute is Killing the Planet (and You!)
Most people commute to work, many driving their own car. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the national average commute time is over 25 minutes. In some areas, like my home state of New York, the average is closer to 40 minutes. This contributes to increases in both fuel consumption and exhaust omissions.

Depressingly, at the national average, that also adds up to over a 100 hours of commuting time every year. This means you likely spend more time in your car driving to work each year than you do on vacation (considering the standard of two weeks off annually). That’s also time you aren’t getting paid for.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners typically have much shorter commute times (and obviously, home-based businesses have none). With more people working for themselves and employers offering flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting, we could reduce the damage being done both to the planet and to ourselves.

The Impact of Business Travel
As of a few years ago, the annual volume of business travel was over 200 million person-trips a year, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Almost half of these trips were reportedly taken for general business purposes (likely for consulting, client service, etc). Because large companies have the budget to cover travel like this, trips are often taken that aren’t absolutely necessary.

Small businesses and entrepreneurs, restrained by smaller travel budgets, don’t travel as often and instead handle business communications over email, phone and video conferencing. This all leads to a cutback in travel, which leads to, again, reductions in fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

Small Businesses Are Nimble
While “going green” seems to be the hot new trend lately, working against climate change is mostly about reducing consumption of all types. Putting a focus on things like using less paper, or cutting back on energy usage, are all good for the planet. Instituting change in a large organization can be difficult. But adopting responsible practices among a small group of people just doesn’t have the same hurdles. Small businesses are capable of changing their behavior quickly and easily.

Start Your Business, Save the World
Take a look at what we discussed. Cutting the number of hours you spend commuting. Traveling less. All of this not only adds up to increased environmental responsibility, but also improving personal happiness. Working for yourself, traveling less and flexible work arrangements all have the opportunity to improve your quality of life.

So my call to action is this: start exploring ways to lessen the impact your job has on your life. You might just save the world in the process.

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Mark Webster

About Mark Webster

One of the Co-Founders of SideTour, former TechStar (NYC Summer 2011), ex-NBA'er, and past TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon Winner.