Zero Waste 101: Small Business Essentials

Submitted by Anya Crittenton on March 24, 2022
Several small bottles of products from FariOrganics, a Black woman-owned business that works with Gloria Ware, using compostable packaging
Several small bottles of products from FariOrganics, a Black woman-owned business that works with Gloria Ware, using compostable packaging

In the new year, the Green Business Network ® launched programming tied to a resolution we want to help all of our business members achieve--moving toward zero waste.

The concept of “zero waste” addresses the entire lifecycle of a product, including its initial design, reuse, repurposing, composting, and other strategies that support a circular economy in which resources are valued and circulate in the economy and society in new forms to avoid waste. Although zero waste goals require rethinking production and consumption, businesses’ bottom lines benefit when they effectively steward resources.

GBN and our business members have addressed waste issues for many years, and we know there is always room for improvement. For those newer to the concept of “zero waste,” it can also be challenging to rethink one’s business operations and related waste production.

For that reason, we turned to Moji Igun, founder of Blue Daisi Consulting [GBN], who is dedicated to helping small businesses become more environmentally sustainable, to explain what she calls the “zero waste mindset.” On our recent webinar, Moji partnered with Green Business Network member and CEO Gloria Ware who described her sustainability journey. Ware’s quarterly subscription and online community for Black women entrepreneurs, Get the Bag [GBN], is dedicated to supporting the success of Black women in business.

Moji teaches that while achievements like getting all of one’s trash to fit into a small jar, might get a lot of views on social media, that isn’t exactly the goal. The zero-waste goal is actually much larger – it is to understand “how did we get into a society, into circumstances, where we are outputting so much waste, and sending it all to a landfill with no real regard for how much resources we are using?”

The linear economy – a straight line from store, to use, to the trash - is destroying the planet and needs to be replaced with a circular economy, Moji explains.

So how do we proceed?

With the zero waste mindset – “a lens for adjusting our consumption and production habits through intentional and consistent action.” Moji helps businesses make small shifts over time, which results in real change that builds over time without the overwhelm that can lead to inaction. She’s inspired by Arthur Ashe, the great tennis star and civil rights icon, who said: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Gloria explained that Moji affirmed her decision to offer quarterly versus monthly Get the Bag subscriptions, gave her a broader list of environmentally friendly vendors, and encouraged her to provide educational materials to her customers on how to properly recycle or creatively repurpose the boxes. “The biggest take-away from my session with Moji was to start where I am and take steps in the right direction over time. That was important, because it reduced the stress of trying to do all the green things at once,” Gloria underscored.

Now Ware is educating her audience of Black women entrepreneurs on an ongoing basis about waste reduction. Those many steps are making a real difference, especially as Get the Bag network members learn and make changes too. Gloria notes that the number of Black women business owners in the US has increased 168% from 2008-2018, and Get the Bag is providing resources to help this audience adopt sustainability practices so they and the planet can thrive.

If you are an entrepreneur seeking to improve your social and environmental impacts, learn more:

GreenBusinessNetwork | BlueDaisi | GetheBag

For a recording of this session:

The header image features products from FariOrganics, a Black woman-owned business that works with Ware, using compostable packaging.

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