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10 Barriers Keeping Businesses From Becoming More Eco-Friendly (and How to Overcome Them)

In order to appease their customers, company leaders will need to shift their mindsets.

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The demand is clear: The next generation of consumers wants more eco-friendly businesses. And yet, not every business is on board, continuing to roll out products made with nonbiodegradable materials destined for landfill or approving unsustainable supply chain practices that hurt more than just the environment.

So what’s keeping current businesses from implementing more sustainable, eco-friendly practices and products? To shed some light on the issue, a panel of Rolling Stone Culture Council members each share one factor they believe is holding many company leaders back from developing a more earth-conscious approach to business.

Supplier and Vendor Partnerships

Deals with highly pollutant suppliers and vendors are the Achilles’ heel of many businesses implementing environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. If you’re truly serious about making a difference, seek out alternative suppliers who can provide a low-emissions alternative in your supply chain. Even if it costs more, you can publicize the new partnership and capitalize on the reputational improvement as a truly green business. – Tyler Gallagher, Team 33

Resistance to Change

Transitioning to a more eco-friendly business requires a new way of thinking, an enormous amount of planning and research and a long-term commitment to ensure sustainability. Put simply, some business owners just aren’t fans of change. The best way to get over a challenge is to face it. If the goal is to consider the potential advantages of going green, slow, gradual shifts are recommended. – Tiffany Gaines, SS Global Entertainment

Company Size

To change a company’s infrastructure can be a behemoth and costly feat. The bigger and older a company is, the harder the task. If you’re a startup, sustainability can be woven into the fabric of your company right out of the gate. If you’re a corporation, it’s an overhaul that can take years. Putting the eco-friendly stake in the ground is the first step; then there’s taking many, many atomic steps toward it. – Shirin Etessam, OML

Packaging Regulations

In industries where regulations require excessive packaging, like cannabis, eco-conscious product manufacturers can bake sustainability into their brand ethos by losing weight. Glass is lovely, but it’s bulky and heavy to transport, resulting in more carbon emissions and environmental pollutants than, for example, aluminum or a recycled paper or plastic package might create. – Beth Waterfall, ELEVATE Northeast Events and Education, Inc.

Ingrained Habits

Companies are hindered in their efforts to be eco-friendly because we’re creatures of habit. For example, although we intend to reduce our use of plastics, it is convenient to grab that bottle of water and then discard the empty container. We just need to be more diligent in creating better habits and implementing them at work. – Nicole Rodrigues, NRPR Group

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Manufacturing Costs

The main factor that keeps many businesses from greener solutions seems to still be the cost of manufacturing those greener products. As demand climbs through the education of green technology, the need to fill that demand also climbs, in essence lowering these costs. So companies should key in to educating their staff and clients on why sustainability is so important to longevity and adapting to it as a company. – Chris Martin, Hempful Farms

Reliability of the Materials

It’s nice to use recaptured material, but is it any good? It’s nice to consider nonfossil fuels, but can they carry you across the goal line in a pinch? The thing to consider is that even though it sounds good, you still have to trust it. Some are great technologies just not ready for prime time. – Michael Polk, Billboardology.com

Internal Adoption

Cost is often a barrier to entry when evaluating sustainable solutions and eco-friendly practices, but the internal adoption by employees to embrace a new way of approaching specific product developments can also create a barrier for adoption of a more eco-friendly approach. Organizations should create a clear corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan and internal CSR committee to champion employee adoption of a new approach. – Amanda Dorenberg, COMMB (Canadian Out of Home Marketing and Measurement Bureau)


In the cannabis space, fear is the biggest enemy of sustainability. Fears about youth access and the visibility of the cannabis plant have all led to environmentally intensive practices like indoor cultivation and an abundance of packaging. Creating policies that put the environment first and that don’t succumb to reefer madness is how we will make the industry more sustainable. – Amanda Reiman, Personal Plants

Lack of Funding

The lack of available funding for SMB is a major roadblock when it comes to implementing more sustainable practices and products. Look for embedded finance solutions within your SaaS or POS systems that utilize lending data differently; one example of that is Honeybook. Typical merchant accounts like Stripe and Square are very limited in what SMBs can borrow because of the way they analyze data. – Danielle Sabrina, Tribe Builder Media

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