Small business owner Morgan Gary's business idea came to her like so many great ideas do: as a way to improve where her own experiences had failed.
In this case, it was Morgan's memories of sharing one pair of outdated and unreliable laundry machines with twelve others in her college apartment. She knew she could do it better — and she knew she could do it sustainably.
She acquired her MBA in Sustainable Business and set out to open her own laundromat, Spin Laundry Lounge, in Portland, Oregon.
First, Gary purchased fast, energy-efficient laundry machines that save water and up to 30% on energy usage.
She stocks the shelves with eco-friendly laundry products and allows patrons to pay any way they want: credit cards, smartphones, or good old-fashioned quarters.
You can even text your laundry machine to see how much time is left on its cycle.
"But why is it called a lounge?" you might ask. Because it's also got a supercool bar and cafe right in the store. Don't want to do nothing while waiting for your laundry, but also don't want to waste gas to leave? Just sit at the bar or in the lounge and enjoy local food and drinks while you wait.
This combo of sustainability and convenience has made Spin Laundry Lounge a super successful business.
It's clear that being business-minded and going green aren't mutually exclusive.
Even big brands and organizations are investing in the same sustainable practices that are helping many small businesses. In fact, being sustainable is becoming a smarter and smarter move for businesses.
It's happening in energy:
- Apple and Google are experimenting with making home energy more efficient.
- More than $50 billion in stocks, bonds, and other investments in fossil fuels have been dumped by more than 180 institutions.
And in water:
- Dr. Pepper Snapple Group knows it risks losing up to $2.5 billion of its future sales due to global water shortage and climate change issues.
- Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, who both sell bottled water, joined over two dozen companies to launch "Collectively," a sustainable lifestyle site that publishes articles like this one in praise of a company promoting the consumption of tap water.
And in food:
- The organic food industry is growing around 20% annually, and organic food sales in the U.S. reached almost $36 billion in 2014.
- Research from 2011 found that roughly 60% of consumers would prefer to purchase organic foods.
Shoppers are looking toward the planet's future now more than ever.
Getting a head start on sustainable practices isn't just good for the environment — it's good for business.
P.S. Here's a cool video feature from Low Portland on Spin Laundry Lounge!