Tessa Schlesinger is an ardent minimalist, convinced it is the only way to combat climate change in a world gone mad with consumerism.
Business Must Be Green
I firmly believe two things. The first is that, unless one is skilled to doctorate level, there will be few jobs around in the future. The second belief is that the only way around that is to be the owner of a sustainable business that provides a solid income.
With more and more weather and climate disasters (floods, droughts, increasingly violent hurricanes, etc.), the focus is becoming firmly focused on living in a sustainable way. If we’re lucky, changed business practice and personal living will, eventually, turn around some of the damage. Unhappily, once Antarctica and the Arctic melt, there is no going back to where we currently are.
It therefore becomes vitally important that all businesses practice is sustainable and that owners avoid any toxic side effects or waste of materials.
Here are ten ideas that are all green, plus have the additional benefit of not currently being in the marketplace. It’s a matter of who jumps in first gets the prize!
1. Product Register
There is a book register, i.e. ISBN. Why not a product register?
The idea is that each time a type of product is manufactured, they are registered on a site on a database that is accessible on the web. The register would detail the quality (expected life span) of the product, the geographical location where it was available, the approximate cost, what the product does, and further details – size, color, material made of, etc. An email or website would also be published for further details.
Manufacturers and inventors would pay the website owner a small amount every year.
Consumers would be able to search for exactly what they want.
Why is this a green idea?
Advertising works on the principle of soft brainwashing or indoctrination. The more someone hears something, the more they are likely to buy it. Consequently, many of us buy we wouldn’t have considered if we hadn’t been pitched. Having a site where one can search according to what a product does, where one can purchase it, what it costs, etc. on one website removes undue influence. This means fewer products are bought and there is less wastage. Taken a look at the size of landfills lately?
2. Narrow Cars Mean Less Land Needed for Roads
Do you know that more acreage is used in San Diego for roads than for houses? There are three reasons for that. The first is that public transport isn’t good enough and so most people own cars. The second is that cars are built to seat four people and are wide – some 4’ to 6’ in width. The third is that cargo is now transported by truck instead of rail.
Each year more and more cars hit the road. With so cars, roads become wider in order to prevent traffic congestion.
While there are those people who ride to work on a bicycle, a scooter, or a bike, most don’t. Possible reasons for this are that if it rains, you get wet or if you’re going somewhere fancy, you can hardly wear a ballroom dance dress on a bike. It’s also true that it’s far more dangerous to dry amongst cars on a bike than to have the protective shield of metal around you if something hits you.
A car that is narrow, i.e. only one seat in the front and one seat in the back would immediately mean that more cars can go on the existing roads, so using up less land.
It would also use less of the earth’s resources. We spend far too much metal on producing products that are not 100% necessary. It truly isn’t necessary for cars to have four seats. Certainly there are families, but the number of times a car is used to transport the entire family is negligible in comparison to the number of times a four-seater car is used for one person.
Fewer fossil fuels are used on small cars. While electrical cars are all the vogue, the truth is that they use just as much in terms of fossil fuels. Or, at least, as long as they are drawing from power stations that are drawing their electricity from coal, gas, and nuclear energy, they are. By making smaller, narrower cars, less powerful energies are required, and that in turn, means less fuel is required to drive them.
That means they are cheaper to drive.
While some manufacturers have produced narrow cars, they tend to be extremely high tech, so they are priced expensively. The point of a narrow car is not only that it uses less materials and less road space, but that it doesn't use up material that is not absolutely necessary for the motor to drive!
People would buy them. There is a market for transport that is less expensive than the current fashion of four-seater cars.
Imagine a Very Narrow Car...
3. A Singles Store for Tiny Housing and Single People!
Somewhere between a third and half of the population is single and live on their own. They have no need for 3.5 litre slow cookers or a traditional kitchen sized stove in the kitchen. It’s ridiculous to have a pressure cooker that cooks for six when you can have one that cooks a stew for one for 30 minutes. Instead of having to buy six knives, six forks, six dessert spoons, and six teaspoons, why not sell them beautiful designed single sets of one knife, one fork, one dessert spoon, and one teaspoon. If the customer wants two sets, then s/he is free to buy two sets.
There are advantages all round to the single consumer.
Less storage space is needed. When items are smaller, they don’t take up so much space. In a world where homes are going to becoming smaller and smaller and space is going to be priced at a premium, it’s a good thing to have items sized to the number of people using them.
As the cost of producing something smaller uses less material, this means our resources on earth will last longer. Some of our supplies are finite, e.g. metal.
It is less expensive to the consumer to buy goods that are both smaller and fewer in number. It certainly always peeved me no end when I had to buy entire sets of crockery and cutlery when I didn’t need them.
Singles Store for Tiny Housing Like this Cookware that Caters for One or Two People.
4. The Five-year Wardrobe
There was a time when denim jeans lasted a decade – well, a very long time. They were hardwearing, made with a thread count of something like 1100 or 1200 threads per inch. It was a twill weave which is far stronger than a plain weave.
The fashion industry is the third largest creator of pollution and planet and waste on the planet and it is way past time that we changed that. The only way we can do that is focus on good quality clothing that lasts a long time and we settle for having far fewer items than we do.
For myself, my entire winter and summer wardrobe fits into four small drawers. Of course, my wardrobe is adjusted to my lifestyle. Right now, I’m in Cape Town, South Africa, a few blocks from the beach. My wardrobe for the past few years has comprised a couple pair of jeans and leggings, a few tops, a sweater, a jacket, some boots, sandals, pumps, three scarves, and a hat for really cold, wet days.
In the days when I lived in San Diego, California and danced the night away, I managed on dresses from charity shops which I altered plus a mix and match combination. I was often asked if I bought my clothing in Paris!
When I lived in London and it was a more professional way of life, I had two skirts, a pair of tailored slacks, jeans, four tops, a pretty evening tunic, a cardigan, three scarves, a wool coat, a pair of boots, sneakers, and pumps. I never wore sandals in London.
The point is that nobody needs a large wardrobe of clothing. We can all do with substantially less, and in a time of climate challenge, we need to pull together.
Somewhere, some great fashion people need to make that wardrobe happen for us!
Good weaves, high thread counts, sustainable earth-friendly textiles, in styles we can love and be comfortable with for a very long time are required!
It would be great to walk into a shop and have a colour and style co-ordinated wardrobe to try on and by. It doesn’t matter if you take a year or two to pay it off. It’s simply the idea of walking into a store and buying a wardrobe of clothing that will last for the next five years and then being able to do all the things you truly love!
I’m waiting for that brilliant person who is going to put it all together so that clothes become an earth-friendly item.
Denim Jeans Need To Be Banned!
5. Zero Waste Stores: Purchases Without Packaging
We have a serious problem with packaging waste on this planet. It needs to vamoose!
There are all sorts of staples that can be sold without packing – rice, cereals, potatoes, frozen foods, coffee, tea, water, raisins, oats, beans, dates, and more. The store could have those items in big bins and sell them according to their weight.
We would supply the containers.
Think about that.
It would be so much easier to attain zero waste.
There would be some other benefits to this earth and to us.
Apart from using up an endless amount of materials, packaging also requires greater packing space than a barrel or two containing oats. It’s one of those immutable laws than a thousand packets of oats takes up more space than a 1000 lbs of oats in two bins or barrels.
Another benefit is that food would become cheaper because we wouldn’t be paying for packaging.
Best of all, it would become difficult to use branding to differentiate one product from another, and branding is one of the big all-time cons.
6. Measuring Containers
Of course, if we are going shopping for items that have no packaging, we have to have something to put those items in.
So business idea number six is to create containers that indicate the weight of the container, an indicator line for different weights – fluid ounces, gallons, litres, etc. At the till, the assistant will weigh the goods, note the weight of the container, subtract it from the weight of the total goods, then charge for only the goods in the container.
As the public becomes accustomed to providing their own containers, there will be much less waste, and it will increasingly become more convenient.
7. Perfume-making Kits
I’ve always thought it ridiculous that smelling nice costs so much. Honestly, it can be done with much less damage to the environment and certainly at a fraction of the cost. We can all make our unique perfumes. It’s not rocket science. Of course, some will be better at it than others, but there is no reason why those of us who are satisfied with a basic lavender shouldn’t combine it with a touch of jasmine and delight all who pass us by.
Imagine a store that runs perfume making courses in the back rooms (Michaels runs all sorts of courses on their premises). The store, itself, would have all the different essential oils, the alcohol, fixatives, and the solvents. It also has a vast array of different types of perfume bottles.
I’d be at one of those courses the day after tomorrow. I’d also indulge myself in a pretty bottle for every day of the week. How could I resist? And imagine someone saying “I love your perfume” and your smart come-back, “Oh, I made that last week.”
Seriously, there are some products on this earth that are simply overpriced. More to the point, they are generally imported and that means the use of fossil fuels on big container ships.
Consumers also wouldn’t throw away perfume bottles but simply use them for their next concoction.
Allowing people to make their own perfumes and giving them the means to do so could start a whole new way of life for people on planet earth.
8. Custom-made Patterns for Clothing
Years ago, I used a particular instrument that allowed me to draw up a dress pattern in a matter of minutes. It would be a perfect fit and a dress could be made in a few hours.
For some reason, pattern making for virtually all clothing manufacturers is still in the dark ages. CAD software can provide patterns and those patterns can then printed out on a printer. All that would be required was for the particular style to be selected by the consumer, then the measurements of the consumer fed in, and the pattern printed!
Currently consumers are extremely limited in the clothing arena. I’ve laid out their choices below.
- Be a slave to what the stores sell, and if one has a body that doesn’t tie in with store sizing, then the item has to be altered. One is limited to the colours and styles of that particular season.
- Buy a pattern that is sized according to the average size and shape the patternmaker used. So, for example, because I have a very small waste compared to my hips and butt, I have had a lifelong problem buying slacks and pencil skirts. The waist is either too big or the hip size too small.
- Consult a designer or pattern-maker who will draw up a pattern for the individual at an astronomical price. While this may be affordable for the millionaires of our time, it is definitely not affordable to most people.
So if there were a store where the consumer could walk in, look through a book of available styles, both retro and modern, and then have their measurements taken, wait for the operator to key them in, and then wait while the pattern is printed out, it would provide a desirable service for many. All in all, the entire operation would take ten minutes and would be exactly what the client required.
Have this service available at a fabric store and there would be no end to the clientele.
9. Unpackaged Drinks
Our drinks come in plastic containers, tins, and bottles. Most of us buy water, soda pop, fruit juices, and other drinks each and every day. That is a lot of garbage that is going into out atmosphere.
What would happen if stores had barrels storing the different types of beverages? You would walk in with your specialty drinks bottle which was marked with fluid ounces or litres, tap the drink into your container, and then pay at the till. No wastage.
If you wanted to buy a few bottles of something, you would naturally bring more than one bottle/container. However, most of us just buy something to drink during the day, so we wouldn’t be carrying around half a dozen bottles.
Imagine if we walked into Starbucks with our own flask and just poured out coffee into our container. The environment would be saved from much toxic waste.
I see a drinks store providing all sorts of liquid – soups, coffee, cocoa, soda pop, water, fruit juice, and whatever else comes in liquid form.
10. Rain Roofs for Electric Bicycles and Scooters
Not everybody wants to own a car or ride a hot-shot Harley Davidson. They’d be quite happy cycling to work and hoping on a small scooter. The problem would be weather.
Why not create a roof of some sort that is suitable for both a scooter and a bicycle? They would protect the rider plus provide a shelter against wind.
The administrations of some countries are looking at the advantages of consumers getting to and from work by cycling. Because it’s necessary to be protected from cars, they are providing an increasing number of bicycle routes.
In this case, it’s the right time to start looking at bicycles and scooters as weatherproof. How difficult can it be to create something like that? Just walk into a shop, buy it, and clip on!
Alternatively, design it and hire a manufacturer to produce the items with convertible roofing.
Business as a Social Good
Business has ceased to be a social good for a long time now – if it ever was. Someone has to produce goods and distribute them. There have been several economic systems that have found various ways of doing this. Business is just one method.
I think it’s way past time we began to look at products that are priced according to their production costs (and not according to what the market will bear). I think the goods need to be affordable to everybody, and they need to be made of quality materials that are not toxic to the environment. They also need to be produced in a way that does not produce toxic waste. Business now needs to manufacture long-lasting products so that there is less waste. Manufacturing items with built-in obsolescence is no longer ethical – if it ever was.
So grab a business idea, set yourself up in your community, and become a benefactor of mankind!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Tessa Schlesinger
Dennis Thorgesen from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S. on March 27, 2018:
Tessa, actually I do agree with you and wish I was in a position where a small car would work in my situation. According to what I have been hearing gas is back on the way to $5 a gallon. I believe gas prices will dictate at some point the size of the cars. This is of course unless they figure out a way to make them and run them on electricity. Even then I believe they will get smaller.
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on March 25, 2018:
Hi Dennis, I'm sorry to hear about your difficulties. However, I think you should be able to work out that there are always valid exceptions. The fact that 5% or 10% of people might need a slightly wider car does not mean that the majority do not. :)
Dennis Thorgesen from Beatrice, Nebraska U.S. on March 25, 2018:
As a business owner of a marketing company I deal with all types of business people. You are correct in that most of them are looking at the profit they can earn with their product or service.
I have found it hard to even start a safety first culture within their businesses. Waste reduction, a few have some kind of system in
place, not many. Planned obsolescence, every company I have dealt with still believe in the model.
For the most part now I avoid fast food restaurants. They have a lot of waste, which should not be necessary.
With 7 people living in the house, two of whom use devices to assist with motivation, a narrow vehicle is of no value. It is rare that there are less than three people in any of the vehicles at our disposal. One of the people always require a device for motivation, sometimes two. As much as possible the smallest vehicle, which gets the best gas mileage is used.
I guess I am guilty in ways of being wasteful. Years ago I learned that having more than one device for motivation saved on hospital bills. More than once I was hospitalized sometimes for up to seven days because I had no way to move. As well, I remember being in bed for over a week waiting for repair parts. The VA stepped in and furnished what I needed as the repair parts didn't show up when they were due. Had they not, I would have been in bed for a month.
Today I keep a device in each of the vehicles, one in the house, and one in the garage. You really don't want to know how much I have invested in them. Each weighs in the neighborhood of 50 pounds, and is mostly steel. The good part is I have never been in a hospital because I couldn't motivate since buying them.