Despite Grim Outlook, Business Owners Have Green Outlook

A recent survey of small businesses by Wells Fargo showed owners reporting their grimmest outlook since August 2003, but two-thirds of them say their troubles haven't changed plans to 'green' their companies.

According to an online report from the Lakeland (FL) Ledger, while most businesses said they were going on with eco-friendly plans, two-thirds of the companies surveyed also said their customers were not willing to pay more for environmentally friendly goods—up from 49 percent in spring 2007, the last time the question was asked. And 62 percent said they didn't take any steps to showcase their environmental initiatives to customers, also up from 49 percent in spring 2007.

For those who did let their customers know about their environmentalism, the majority (90 percent) said they did so out of a sense of personal responsibility, while 73 percent saw it as a public-relations or brand-management move.

In the past year, the two most common environmental actions were switching to greener products (77 percent), such as more energy-efficient light bulbs, and recycling (88 percent).

Another 28 percent said they volunteered to help the environment.

The poll randomly surveyed 604 small business owners in January and February over the telephone. The margin of sampling error is 4 percentage points.

The survey defines small businesses as companies with revenue of up to $20 million.

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