Forward thinking ‘accidentally’ green businesses

  • A number of novel businesses have achieved success and differentiated themselves through the concept of “harvesting idle assets”.
  • Examples such as Skype, which removes the need for travel for a face to face meeting, or companies that let people lease their car or parking space when not in use can be a highly effective way of stripping out a whole layer of resource use. In particular, technology based and skills-matching projects are emerging.
  • The clothing company Patagonia has taken what can be considered a very high-risk approach by telling consumers not to buy their jacket, attached to a message to use what they already have and to come back when a replacement is really necessary. This encourages re-use and implies quality products, ensuring customer loyalty.
  • These types of business models achieve environmental benefits indirectly by using disruptive innovation to produce a desirable behaviour, product or service.

Encouraging businesses to think outside the box can result in profitable ventures that are great for the environment, and this type of business model should be actively promoted. Making the most of what is already out there can be a rewarding (both financially and environmentally) approach to business.

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