The Delantars’ playbook on how to be greenovators:
1. Build a business around seemingly useless but abundant materials. Look around for things that may no longer serve any significant purpose. The Delantars got lucky with botanical scraps and paper; maybe you can find something to do with plastic, electronic scraps, bottles, and so on.
2. Think out of several boxes. Push your limits as a thinker and entrepreneur by always asking questions and coming up with several answers. When Pete and Cathy Delantar were offered the abandoned warehouse, they asked themselves, “Why take on a huge property with zero utilities?” It was not because the property was cheap (it wasn’t!), but because it gives them an opportunity to make inclusive growth possible—that of building infrastructure and housing, and creating jobs.
3. Educate yourself. Not all business schools offer training on sustainable practices, so if you’re serious about building a genuinely green business, you must familiarize yourself with industry practices in this area. Delantar, for example, completed his training on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) 101 Program: Getting Started with Green by the US Green Building Council, in preparation for his LEED professional accreditation.
4. Patent your inventions. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but once you’ve built on the idea and become successful with the prototypes, apply for patents immediately. The Delantars learned it the hard way, but protecting one’s intellectual property is a crucial part of catering to and competing in the world market.
5. Find and connect with kindred spirits. Without much support from the government and other institutions, greentrepreneurs are left to their own devices when it comes to developing and implementing eco-friendly strategies. Trade shows and exhibitions on sustainable design and business are great venues to connect with other greentrepreneurs. Reach out and share your experience and you might just learn a tip or two from them.
6. Educate buyers about green products. When meeting with prospective partners, emphasize the benefits of buying from a sustainable company—tax breaks from carbon footprints, good image for selling eco products, and the overall impact of helping out communities and the environment.
7. Help other businesses implement sustainable practices. You can ask your service providers to be aligned with your efforts so your production becomes effectively green from start to finish. At Nature’s Legacy, it is imperative to save on water and electricity, and the Delantars have developed ways to do just that. They have been sharing the practices with other Cebu-based businesses.
8. Develop the green mindset among your employees. The passion for green practices must be inculcated in employees as well. They should realize that simple acts like the segregation of waste or the conservation of water and electricity can have a great impact when multiplied among hundreds or thousands of employees. It is also easier for them to be green in the presence of, and with the encouragement of, peers.
9. Aim for inclusive growth. All efforts must be part of a greater scheme of sustainable development for local communities, and for the country as a whole.
10. Put people first. Humans are the most important resource of any business, so entrepreneurs must constantly look for ways to better people’s lives as a fundamental goal. It will be a worthwhile business when your success indicator isn’t primarily your bottomline, but the positive relationship you’ve developed with your partners, suppliers and employees, as well as the positive changes they see and feel in their lives.