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Customers willing to pay to go green, survey says

Sisters Prisha Szachacz, left, and Christina Martin use

Sisters Prisha Szachacz, left, and Christina Martin use a line of sustainable products and have multiple recyclable containers throughout their eco-friendly hair salon, The Chop Shop in Long Beach. Credit: Natalie Loizzo

Thinking about the environment as you do business isn't just good for the earth, it can be good for business, according to a survey and interviews with a wide variety of Long Island business people.

Manhattan-based Computer Generated Solutions Inc. (CGS) found that more than two-thirds of 1,000-plus survey respondents consider sustainability when shopping.

Many larger businesses have already taken great strides and are implementing more eco-friendly processes and products, said Paul Magel, president of the business applications division at CGS, which surveyed consumers last year.  For example, Patagonia, the seller of outdoor gear, developed Woolyester, a material made from a blend of recycled wool, polyester and nylon that helps cut down on manufacturing waste.

But you don’t have to be a big business to be eco-friendly, said Magel, president of CGS's business applications division.

“You can start with baby steps,” he said, noting the first step is paying attention to waste.

Assess how you run your business, from your processes to your products, he said, and look at who you’re sourcing materials from and the type of chemicals you’re using or not using.

Examine use of items you might usually take for granted, like plastic forks and straws, advised Scott Cooney, founder and CEO of Honolulu-based Pono Home, an energy efficiency company, and author of "Build a Green Small Business."  Swap them out for reusable or more eco-friendly options, he suggested.

Beyond that, businesses can recycle and encourage customers to do the same.

Trimming hair, and waste

Sisters Christina Martin and Prisha Szachacz have multiple containers fo recyclables throughout their hair salon, The Chop Shop in Long Beach.

This includes containers for metals, plastics, paper, hair and chemicals. 

They partner with Green Circle Salons to recycle those materials, and this year alone, Martin said, they diverted 3,250 pounds of waste that might have gone to landfills.        

They sort recyclable items weekly, then box and ship them to various locations. It costs about $200 monthly to participate.

The salon also uses a line of sustainable shampoos and conditioners called Davines, and if customers bring in their empty bottles instead of tossing them, they’ll refill them and discount the purchase by 10%. Martin says prices range from $29 to $45.  

Customer Kate Scanio of Long Beach opts to refill her bottles. “I would so much rather support a business that is keeping the earth in mind,” she said.

Green pest control

Arthur Katz, president of Knockout Pest Control Inc. in Uniondale, says he believes he wins clients with his firm’s green pest control techniques. The firm is GreenPro-certified by the National Pest Management Association.

Katz says  his company uses the least environmentally intrusive methods to eliminate pests. For example, before pesticides are suggested, workers consider alternative ways to keep bugs out, ranging from basic steps like cleaning up food spills that attract vermin to stuctural modifications like sealing cracks and crevices.

If workers have to use a pesticide, they choose safer options like Sentricon to control termites, a solid block placed into a bait station that doesn’t leech into the soil, said Katz. The cost for the initial service, including a one-year service contract, for an average home is $1,275, plus tax, Katz said. After the first year, the cost for an annual service contract is $350. 

Big and small steps

Cooney said plant upgrades, including seemingly small items like fixing toilet leaks and installing efficient lighting, shouldn't be overlooked because they can save money in the long run.

On the other end of the scale, Hauppauge-based United States Luggage Co., parent to travel gear companies Briggs & Riley and Solo, is making strides with the use of solar.

About five years ago, the company spent more than $1 million to install solar panels on the roof of its 70,000-square-foot building, said CEO Richard Krulik.

Since then, the company has saved almost that much in energy costs and soon will start realizing a net savings, he said.

United States Luggage also has a commitment to sustainability with its products.

It will eliminate plastic from most of its packaging by the end of this year, Krulik said, opting instead for recycled, recyclable and biodegradable materials. The company also sells a collection of bags  made from recycled disposable water bottles, said Krulik. And Briggs & Riley products come with lifetime repair warranties, so buyers can use them longer and keep them out of landfills.

Fast Fact

Buyers increasingly want sustainable products, and over one-third will pay 25% more for them, according to CGS’ 2019 Retail and Sustainability Survey.

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