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The Business of Good: Social Entrepreneur Update


Socially responsible business practices -- including organic, fair trade, giving back and going green --are becoming the norm for for-profit, as well as nonprofit, businesses. We’re committed to covering this side of small business with our weekly wrap-up of news that affects businesses that have embraced this socially responsible model, combining a for-profit business with nonprofit sensibilities.

Let’s Get it Started

While giving back is important, if your product isn’t worth buying, socially responsible business owners say the brand will never last. BusinessNewsDaily spoke with a handful of socially conscious entrepreneurs , including Patrick Schwarzenegger -- the Terminator’s son who recently launched his own apparel line, Project360 -- about what it takes to succeed in the ever-crowding world of socially responsible companies.

Green is the New Black

While long believed that being socially conscious costs more money, fashion companies now are realizing the opposite may in fact be true. Leah Borune, who blogs for NBC in New York, writes last week that companies like Macy’s, PPR -- the parent company of luxury brands that include Gucci -- H&M, and smaller fashion houses all have found that thinking in terms of sustainability produces major cost savings.

Urban Miners

The gold rush has been over for quite some time, but there’s a new mining going on that’s becoming just as profitable. BusinessNewsDaily reports that electronic recycling , as it’s officially called – or urban mining, as one owner put it -- has created a new line of businesses tasked with refurbishing old electronics and, for ones that are beyond repair harvesting them for raw materials like aluminum, copper and gold.

The More the Merrier

In addition to being socially responsible on their own, many companies are teaming up in an effort to make an impact. Fast Company blogger Simon Mainwaring writes that there has been a rise in companies partnering together for change. Among them: Timberland's membership in the Outdoor Association, in which 200 companies have agreed to a new industry Eco Index regarding the environmentally sound production of outdoor sports gear and equipment, and "Change the Equation," a network of 100 CEOs who are committing their companies to rebuilding science and math literacy in America's school systems.

Truth in Advertising

When promoting green products or initiatives, businesses best not mislead consumers, or they’ll risk losing them for good, according to new research.  BusinessNewsDaily reports that a survey from Cone, a strategy and communications agency, shows nearly 80 percent of consumers are looking for specific information on a product's green benefits, and 75 percent would like more clarification on the eco-friendly terms companies use in advertising, like "natural." In addition, of those that feel they’ve been misled by green marketing, 71 percent say they’ll stop buying a product, and 37 percent will cut out the brand altogether.

Investing in Change

Not only has there been a rise in the number of socially responsible businesses, there has been just as large an increase, if not more, of people investing in them. In socially responsible investing version 2.0, as Portfolioist’s Nanette Byrnes terms it, investors are exercising a broader range of options -- choosing to invest in companies that are doing good in some socially responsible areas and not so well in others.
We meet a lot of new socially responsible businesses each week. Here are this week’s favorites:

KNO Clothing: A fashionable clothing company that, for every purchase, donates an article of clothing to those in need and provides funding to organizations working to end homelessness.
On Twitter @knoclothing

Jus Animalium Culture Apparel: A young eco-friendly apparel company devoted to helping America's pet shelters. It donates 10 percent of all monthly sales to various animal shelters across the country.
On Twitter @jusanimalium

Print4Change: A printing company that donates 50 percent of everything earned to bringing water, food, shelter and education to Haitians living in extreme poverty. On Twitter@print4change

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.