Business Management | Resources

Green Business Strategies For Small Manufacturing Businesses, Wholesaler, Retailers, Charities And Interior Designers

Jun 14, 2022 | Brinda Koundjim Mamiafo Youdjeu

Small businesses are quicker and more nimble than larger corporations, and we can use this advantage to make better, "greener" decisions. When we talk about green business, the first thing that comes to our mind is nature, thus a sustainable business, or a green business, is an enterprise that has a minimal negative impact or potentially a positive effect on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy. It is quite curious to know that decision-makers are increasingly rejecting the idea that there is no opportunity or growth potential for a truly green company. Despite the economic turbulence of the early 21st century, one thing has become clear: today’s industry leaders include organizations that have embraced radical environmental policies and have profited from them. The following paragraphs will explain with more details about “HOW SMALL BUSINESS CAN BECOME GREENER” and why it is becoming a trend today. Hereby, I will focus on the following audiences: wholesalers, retailers, small manufacturers, and E-commerce.


Developing a green business strategy

What can I do as a small business to be greener?

The first thing to do is to convince yourself by reflecting on some simple questions for example:

  • How do I define going greener?

  • What are the tipping points for me to consider changing my behavior toward going green? 

  • Where can I get practical information about meaningful change in my daily life by going green?

  • How will I prevent myself from recycling back to an earlier stage of behavior change, such as contemplation (no action)? 

  • What are the risks and benefits of becoming more sustainable?

Your answers to these questions will set up your mind as you will become aware of what you are willing to do. They will be your strength.

As a small business you should ask yourself and your team: “On which sustainability strategy or strategies should we focus?” 

According to Joel Makower, the first three waves of corporate engagement in environmental initiatives are the following: 

Greening Your Business

  1. Telecommuting

In a recent blog about the impact of the Covid 19 on CO2 emission, it was found that the pandemic caused a considerable decrease in gas emission.

Once the Covid 19 pandemic began in the last two years, everybody started working remotely, this caused the highest annual fall in CO2 emissions since World War Two. It is very profitable for businesses to adopt this method and especially small-sized businesses.

Even if it's complicated, they should figure out how to do it at least occasionally (two to three times weekly). It can have a big positive environmental impact. According to, if everyone worldwide can work from home at least once a week, then the global emission of CO2 could fall by 24 million MtCO2 a year.

  1. Sustainable strategies in the supply chain

The figure above illustrates the term Supply chain which is defined as every process involved in the manufacturing of goods or services from the extraction of raw materials to the delivery of the product or service to end-users. 

Each of these processes involves the transfer of goods or services, so let's talk about how greener this process can be.

Let´s firstly think about the packaging and secondly the means of transportation. Your product should be packaged with Eco-Friendly Packaging. Depending on which type of product you produce, there are many types of sustainable packaging available on the market.

For successful sustainability, you should start with green raw materials. This includes:

  • Selecting the right sustainable supplier

  • Investigating the raw materials provided (they should be manufactured using recycled materials)

  • understanding the means of transport and

  • packaging  

Read more about Raw materials and supplier selection hier


The process continues with the wholesaler. A wholesaler is a person or company that sells goods in large quantities at low prices, typically to retailers. A good example of hereby is Rural Handmade.

Wholesalers are highly untouched by transport and logistics, as they do not supply to consumers (who can also purchase on the market). Transport in green business is very important because the majority of emissions in the world result from vehicle emissions. With APIs however, transportation can be greener with the use of Open Charge Map (a public registry of electric vehicle charging locations all over the world, Redfin's Walkscore App that assesses the walk, bike, and ecological movement scores of towns and cities as well as Brighter Planet API which empowers consumer choice by allowing apps access the environmental impact of a wide variety of activities and transportation while also offering carbon and energy quantification for cars and flights.

Small Businesses often supply in medium quantity, but because some parameters need to be taken into consideration such as:

  • Shipping destination

  • Shipping origin

  • Urgency etc,

they should also consider other Logistics Transportation Methods for an example: Marine transportation, Rail transportation, and Air transportation rather than Road Transportation

In this case, the freight forwarder is responsible for the sustainable transport of goods. February 2019, a €110 million loan agreement with the EIB to finance Dutch shipping company Spliethoff. It enables Spliethoff to install exhaust gas cleaning systems and ballast water management systems on 42 vessels - almost half of its fleet, helping the company to be compliant with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN’s regulatory agency for shipping. The retrofitted vessels will operate with significantly reduced emissions of sulfur oxide, known to be harmful to humans. Such actions will only lead to an increase in sustainability.

As compared to wholesalers, retailers and E-commerce produces a high percentage of gas emission. E-commerce operates electronically on the internet and they can be considered as either retailers or wholesalers. 

Retailers sell goods to the public in relatively small quantities for use or consumption rather than for resale. As a retailer, you should consider your packaging since you sell or ship goods in relatively small quantities, taking into consideration that the product can be returned (especially in the case of E-commerce). The amount of return has expanded since 2019 (due to the Covid pandemic) according to some E-commerce platforms and

Considering using the same packaging for shipping and return, you should make sure your packaging is made with sustainable and long-lasting materials such as:

  • Paper and Cardboard Packaging

  • Bioplastic Packaging

  • Packaging materials made from seaweed

Digital marketing is less green due to its shipping process, whereas retailers that operate on the market such as Bakery and other ice cream shops produce less emission. 

  1. Charities’ path toward sustainability 

A Charity is an action that brings people together for voluntary giving of help for a specific cause. There are many ideas for a sustainable charity starting from the upcycling of raw materials and finished goods to the fundraising for sustainable development.

  1. Upcycling

Talking about upcycling, a charity can simply start by reusing old clothes: Abandoned clothes should be washed and sanitized to prevent the spread of germs and enteric viruses, old cardboards to make designs, and old plastic packaging to make bubble Cashion: Whereby the collected packaging are sent to a specific packaging company for reuse or recycle (the organization should use local or closest possible suppliers and donors when possible. This reduces the time and cost for transportation and consequently reduces CO2 emission). This can be done through a campaign for example and by providing trash cans in various garbage storage locations of a city. This will reduce to a certain extent the amount of waste produced annually. 350,000 tonnes, that’s around £140 million worth of used but still, wearable clothing goes to landfills annually in the UK.

The process is not a very complex one. It requires just abandoned products, alongside some creativity and handiness.

  1. Recycling 

Recycling is much more complex than upcycling. Small businesses, charities, and small industries can provide trash cans in cities and reward their consumers either with gifts or bonuses for example. Garbage collectors (haulers) then sort the trash for recyclable materials and these recyclable materials are reprocessed by manufacturers through well-defined processes.  

Most cities have a recycling program, make sure you check out what they offer for your business.

Five key steps in recycling

On the other hand, a charity can aim at collecting intangible properties such as fundraising for a sustainable project. Such Charities can simply lay out a global project to promote the impact of CO2 or provide support to sustainable developing businesses, providing food or gifts for refugees and orphans or rather providing free lectures on how to become greener. To achieve this, the charity needs to, first of all, attract donors through the spread of information. We generally focussed on the day-to-day advertising and sometimes digital as well. But it becomes more challenging to go out or march to convince people about your charity. For this reason, it could be of great interest to charities

These charities focus more on social media, which has become a trend all around the world today. Thinking about how fast information can be shared over the internet, how many people can read this information, and the effort you put in creating the content is much better than marching for the same cause. Today many charities like to good to go and the international rescue committee has made it easy for everyone interested in donating.

Once a charity organization develops a sustainable reputation, many donors find it attractive and invest more and in larger amounts. I think green practices are very beneficial when it comes to charity because being green as a non-profit organization is a challenge. This can also be attractive to other charity organizations that maximize the impact of SDGs.

Let's take the example of Rural Handmade, a sustainable company that helps small businesses with a sustainable supply chain. This company located in London helps small communities around the world in many ways such as:

  • Creating employment 

Creating employment in a foreign country is a great challenge.

In some African countries, several communities are offering exceptional goods and services. These communities are unfortunately oft unknown and their rate of growth remains most of the time stagnant, so a company like Rural handmade helps such communities to grow in several ways by promoting their supply chain and increasing their production rate which consequently increases the employment rate also. 

  • Increase in strategy 

For these small communities to improve, they need strategies, as they are less edified about them. Policies and approaches are then provided by this company to expand the smaller ones. Teaching these small communities how to calculate their carbon footprint with Excel and how to reduce emissions is one of the basic goals.  

  • More visibility 

Some of these Communities lack partners, information, and opportunities because we do not know them, they maintain their businesses for the local country, but with the aid of Rural Handmade, they can be connected to the global market starting from the internet under well-developed website and /or social media, where they could boost their business and make the world know more about them.

  • Impact of co2

Less industrialized Countries like Cameroon do not fight against the impact of CO2 for the next decade and, therefore small organizations are becoming less interested when it comes to such a topic. Rural Handmade helps some of these organizations, making them aware of the global impact of CO2 on earth and giving them strategies to become nearer to this goal and advantages they have when adopting these strategies. 

This challenging company and many others increase global partnership for a larger green impact.

As I said in the paragraphs above, charities that fight for the same cause can easily merge while maximizing the impact of SDGs for more effectiveness regarding the global financial model. Take the examples of Ecobank foundation which merged with CAF to support Africa with four precise goals namely: No poverty, Good health, and well-being, Quality education, and Economic inclusion, all charities whether small or large can make a great impact starting from a city to the world. The first thing to do is to start, small charity organizations can start with a goal and improve this accordingly. You can also make use of these steps when implementing the SDGs in your charity

  1. Interior design  sustainable strategies 

There are many pillars of sustainable interior design but one of the most valuable and common is the life expectancy of the products. Longevity is about creating aesthetical products. Creating products that can last for long while conserving their value is an essential measure for a good sustainable interior design, because the longer the life expectancy, the lower the change in the design and consequently the greener your interior will be.

The raw materials used are also very important. Make sure the resources used should be natural. They are not just long-lasting but also very eco-friendly materials. Some of these are; 

  • Wood: Wood absorb CO2 like any other plant, it can be reused over and over because of its long-lasting ability, and finally it is a bio product

  • Natural stones: stones like marble are naturally beautiful for design, they do not necessarily need to be published before being used, as this polish can be less eco-friendly, so it should be used when necessary. 

  • Houseplants: Apart from design and beauty, plants are also air filters, they can help you breathe easier by naturally filtering the air in your building 

Art, craft and design education have become so vital in our society and the reason is that they are a source of myths, they are a source of communication, culture, and history, however inclusive design has a huge social impact nowadays and designers are looking forward to working together for, to increase impact and expertise. 

Blog mentioned in his blog how collaboratIon makes us better designers and how these designs have a great social impact. He said, “The truth is that a collaborative design process—a design process that’s inclusive—emphasizes co-creation and is the best way to produce effective design”. In addition to this, he mentioned some techniques to be a more collaborative designer.

  1. APIs

 APIs or Application Programming Interfaces allow the creation of applications that can advance sustainability, environmental awareness, or specific action initiatives. APIs help measures emission data and support connections that enable the spread of important information on the environment and climate. Some APIs also help individuals reduce their carbon footprint, and home energy consumption and propose clean energy alternatives.

APIs can be applied in e-commerce and wholesale green business in many ways. E-commerce makes use of extensive computer algorithms usually requiring many machines but APIs can be used to cloud data so that emissions can be curbed through the use of a lower number of machines. This is not just environmentally safe but also profitable. Because they also support the sharing of data across a large space, they can be used as the advent of advertisement and awareness, opening up opportunities for growth and exploitation of new markets. The data generated from APIs regarding emissions and the environment can help e-commerce businesses to better market and brand or innovate their products for a particular context.

APIs help wholesalers know how to create shopping platforms, maintain inventory and link them to clients. This is possible through the network of information and communication that APIs create. Through this connection, wholesalers can improve the experience of their clients who get comfort in purchasing as well as purchasing from a wide array of carbon alternatives.


Sustainability is equal to profitability, and we all know that the first goal for many businesses is profitability. So think about preserving the environment while achieving your goals at once. It sounds nice, right? So, take note of the recommendations above and join the green revolution.

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