Greening small business : assessing the level of environmental awareness and practice in small businesses in Edenvale.
With increased public environmental awareness and support for environmental protection, business success is becoming more dependant on environmental performance. Many large companies have acknowledged this and are engaged in corporate environmentalism to work towards the goal of ecological sustainability. The small business sector has an equally important role to play in sustainable development since their combined impact on the environment is significant. The extent to which the small business sector in South Africa has adopted a pro-environmental attitude however, has not been established. This research therefore attempts to ascertain the level of environmental awareness and practice within small business. To achieve this aim, a questionnaire was used to collect both quantitative and qualitative data from a sample population of small businesses in Edenvale, Gauteng. The sample population represented a variety of economic sectors. The quantitative data was analysed statistically by calculating the percentage of respondents or responses and by performing a test of proportions. The qualitative data was used to clarify the findings. The results suggested that the overall level of environmental awareness and practice within the small businesses was very low. Environmental issues were not considered to be a part of the business agenda as small business managers were unaware of the environmental impacts of their business activities. Moreover, there was a lack of both environmental pressures and information. The majority of the small businesses were therefore environmentally inactive. A small proportion of the businesses were environmentally reactive in that they had started to address environmental issues. This was however, only in response to environmental pressures and not through their own volition. Furthermore, unless subjected to environmental pressures or given incentives, the small businesses were not planning to integrate environmental practices into their business activities in the future.