Sustainability for One Small Business

When I started Cultivating Capital, I wanted to create a business that would not just help others to become more sustainable, but would also meet high standards for sustainability itself.

Could I honestly say that I believed sustainability was important if my own company practiced business as usual, by ignoring the impacts of my own office space or resorting to the cheapest business cards from Vistaprint? I didn’t think so.

In this post, I’ll share some of the steps I took to align my own small business with my values.

Supporting Companies with Shared Values

Since every dollar spent is a vote in favor of a company’s practices, most of the companies that I’ve worked with are B Corps or Certified Green Businesses.

Certified Green Businesses have met standards for best environmental practices, and Certified B Corps have met standards for both social and environmental responsibility. I know that these companies share my values, are committed to sustainability, and have been vetted by responsible third parties.

Some of the areas that I’ve looked at for Cultivating Capital’s own sustainability practices include:

  • LLC Filing & Legal Services: Worked with Katovich & Kassan Law Group, a local Certified Green Business and B Corp in Oakland. We specified in the LLC operating agreement that due consideration would be given to the company’s effects on stakeholders and the environment. This ensures that the triple bottom line of “people, planet, and profit” is in the DNA of Cultivating Capital.
  • Business Cards: Ordered from Greenerprinter, a local B Corp. Beyond using recycled paper, Greenerprinter has implemented progressive practices within the printing industry, and offers high-quality printing at competitive prices.
  • Office Space: Cultivating Capital is based at the Hub (also a Certified B Corp) located in the David Brower Center. The Brower Center is a LEED certified building in Berkeley and itself a Certified Green Business in Alameda County.
  • Giving Back: I’ve been involved with the Sustainable Business Alliance for several years, first as a member and then volunteering my time on the Board of Directors. Most recently, I’ve helped to launch an Advisory Board for the organization.
  • Transportation: I take BART as much as possible. By doing so, I can reduce the emissions related to my business (and avoid both traffic and parking hassles!).
  • Certifications: I would be remiss if I didn’t adhere to the very standards that I most respect for sustainable businesses! As a result, Cultivating Capital is both a Certified Green Business and a Certified B Corp.

Of course, this isn’t to say that I’ve done everything that I can to make Cultivating Capital the kind of company that I want it to be. Areas in which I would like to improve include:

  • Giving Back: I’m considering ways in which Cultivating Capital can have a greater impact.
  • Banking: Switching to a local, independent bank.
  • Office Purchases: My office purchases are quite minimal, so ordering online from the two local Certified Green office supply stores isn’t an option since I don’t order enough to meet the minimum requirements for delivery. I still need to find a good solution for this.
  • Web hosting: For practical purposes, it was easier to use the hosting service that my original web designer used. I am still exploring the option of switching to a local, green web host but haven’t made the switch yet.

Sustainability in business is part of an ongoing process of continual improvement. I expect that this list will continue to change as Cultivating Capital evolves, and it’s a journey that I look forward to!



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