Internet, Search Engines Draw Green SMBs

By Pedro Hernandez | Posted April 17, 2012

More proof today that a small business is likely to be a green business -- or is well on its way to becoming one.

Sixty-one percent of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are actively taking steps to reduce their environmental impact according to the latest Office Depot Small Business Index. And those numbers are growing. Of those surveyed, 70 percent are planning to "go greener" within the next two years.

The Internet once again proves its worth as an invaluable resource as SMBs align their business practices with these environmentally aware times. According to the office supply company, 56 percent of SMBs go online to research green products.

Underscoring the importance of good SEO, the study reveals that search engines like Google and Yahoo are the go-to destinations for small business buyers. A vast majority of SMBs, 99 percent in fact, use search engines to research their green options. A mere 1 percent frequent a specific website for the same purpose.

Among those SMBs that are currently riding the green bandwagon, recycling and waste reduction are popular, "low hanging fruit" strategies. Recycling is a popular activity among 82 percent of those polled and while 72 percent are cutting down on waste. The environment also weighs on purchasing decisions with 61 percent reporting that they are buying energy efficient products and 60 percent are buying more recycled products.

Nonetheless, creating greener workplaces is not without its challenges. Actualy, it's more like perceived challenges, says Yalmaz Saddiqui, Chief Green Advocate at Office Depot.

Cost was the biggest concern for SMBs at 39 percent, while a lack of options and product quality trailed at 21 percent and 13 percent, respectively. SMB budgets are notoriously tight, but that's no reason to fear the price tag on every eco-friendly product.

"Many people think that going greener will cost more, but that's not necessarily the case,” said Saddiqui. He adds that there are no shortage of green IT and electronics solutions that make financial sense.

"Customers can look at purchasing energy-efficient lights and computers, remanufactured printer cartridges and a wide range of greener supplies that cost less than less-green alternatives," said Saddiqui. Sixty percent of small businesses are already opting for green toner and ink supplies, while 41 percent are buying energy efficient lighting and 35 percent are investing in power-sipping electronics.

The data for the February 2012 Index came from 1,002 SMBs. For more green SMB insights, view this infographic at Office Depot website.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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