What is an Ecopreneur?
What is an Ecopreneur?
YourDictionary.com defines an ‘ecopreneur’ as ‘an entrepreneur operating an environmentally sustainable business’. Labels are funny things though! They do give us a socially recognised frame of reference for sure however the actual interpretation of any label varies widely depending on your perspective. None of those perspectives would be wrong as long as it is your own! So I will explain what an ecopreneur is to me and hope that you can relate.
So to me, an ecopreneur is someone who is making an effort to create a business that thinks about people and planet as well as profit. A business that is doing its best to learn about the issues our society and planet are facing. An entity that engages in solutions, minimises its impact and considers this at every level. It does not mean doing it perfectly, but instead striving to do the best it can within its own boundaries. And by not engaging in greenwashing or inequality.
Triple Bottom Line
Ecopreneurs are sometimes described as having a ‘triple bottom line’. So one that not only looks at it’s profit and loss but also considers its social and environmental impact as if these were also bank accounts. Ecopreneurs are also generally working towards a circular economy which seeks to reduce ‘waste’ rather than a linear model (take, use, dispose).
Why become an Ecopreneur?
We are not separate from nature, we are part of it and as such it is our responsibility to ensure that the natural systems that we live within can continue to thrive. We need connection and community to maintain good mental health, we feel good by contributing and being part of something. Our planet feeds us and our oceans and forests provide the oxygen in the air that we breathe. We simply cant carry on ignoring our impact on the planet and the people around us. Change is coming so why not lead from the front!
For those of you who like facts and figures here are some additional incentives:
- Ocean pollution – every second enough plastic pollution enters the sea to fill the stomach of 24 whales
- Food waste – 1/3 of the food we grow is wasted
- Single-use plastic – half of all plastic produced is used for a matter of seconds and only 8 % of any plastic is recycled. So pretty much any piece of plastic that you have come across in your life still exists somewhere unless it has been burnt!
- Deforestation – since 1950 we have cleared 50% of all temperate and tropical forests
- Climate change – global carbon dioxide emissions are increasing to such an extent that the emissions will have increased in your life time by : 30% if you are 15yrs old, 50% if you are 30yrs old, 70% I you are 50yrs old and 90% if you are 85yrs old.
- Endangered species – it is anticipated if we carry on ‘business as usual’ that we are facing a loss of 96% ocean and 70% land species in what some refer to as the 6th mass extinction or the great dying.
- Overfishing – We are killing 50 million sharks every year just in bycatch, i.e. not even on purpose for shark fin soup. Nearly 80% of worlds fish stock is fully exploited.
The great thing is that we can create the changes needed in order to prevent catastrophe if we act now. There has never been a more important time to become an ecopreneur or to adopt sustainable practices within your life and business.
How you can become an Ecopreneur?
There are loads of ways that you can become an ecopreneur, the key is to not greenwash i.e. appear to be following green credentials on the surface but adopting non-sustainable practices elsewhere, or using tactics to fool customers into thinking that you are ‘green’. An example of this could be creating one product that uses recycled materials when all your others are made from virgin plastic. Or just using the colour green on your branding or choosing sustainable materials but still having your product made in sweat shops in China. It does require an element of asking a lot of questions so that you can fully understand the impact of your business at every level.
Some examples could be:
Nature Connection & Wellbeing
Bringing more people into wild spaces, helps them to understand their intreconnection with it. With that understanding comes a desire to protect it. After Covid, more people are aware of how much nature can heal them, how it lowers your blood pressure, helps to regulate your nervous system and reduce the stress chemicals in your body. To take care of the planet is taking care of us as we can not pour from an empty cup. Any business that encourages and empowers this is an eco-business whether it is SUP, yoga, coaching or whatever. My favourite is SUP & Soul so go and check them out!
An Eco-Friendly Product
Products that have a direct positive impact on the environment and offer true value, i.e. not just another thing to buy, but something that has a true purpose. A lot of research is required however to ensure your products are truly eco-friendly as there is a lot of misinformation on materials, production, and waste management in manufacturing products. Claire Potter offers some consultancy on this, she is a circular economy expert and product design lecturer. You can find her contact details here.
Sustainable Supply Chain
By working with suppliers who have eco-conscious values and methods and being transparent about who your suppliers are you can ensure that your impact is not being outweighed by negative ethics. Service based businesses can also adopt this strategy by ensuring that any products or services used by the business have green ethics. This can be from the toilet roll, paper and pens that you use, to your web hosting, banking and power supplier for example. So even if your business isn’t a directly ‘green business’ you can still be an ecopreneur by adopting a triple bottom line strategy. One of my favourites that has both a sustainable and circular supply chain but also is a social enterprise is Ruby Moon Gym to Swim.
I have also for a long time now been super inspired by the work of Adam Hall who has pioneered the Surfdome Plastic Reduction strategy to reduce plastic from their supply chain which is currently at 99.81% plastic free. Any ecopreneur looking for inspiration would do well to start by looking at what they have achieved. There is a new brand emerging, Sourcery, that seeks to become the b2b Etsy of sustainable supplies and you can sign up for their beta platform here. You could also listen to my old podcast episode with Harriet about setting up a zero waste shop.
Pay it forward
Giving a percentage of your profit or revenue, or donating based on the number of sales you have is an easy way to have a positive impact on the world. You can donate a percentage of profits to established charities that align with either yours or customers causes or develop your own project to improve the ecological environment. Some examples that I love are:
Become a B Corp
Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. It is not a simple process to become one and so this is really for established business who can justify the additional time costs of applying and accreditation.
The Ecopreneur’s Coach
As someone who is passionate about sustainability and wellbeing, I understand the struggles and challenges of being your own boss and caring about people and planet. Are you ready to launch or level up your business as an ecopreneur but are held back by fear and self doubt? Or would like some support mapping out your goals and strategy for the year ahead? Reach out for a free, no obligation, discovery call to identify where you might be getting in your own way and to create an action plan for success. Just head over to my coaching pages here.