This festive season, a record number of UK small businesses are placing sustainability at the heart of their business models, attracting new customers and driving growth in favour of a sustainable Christmas.
From sustainable skincare products to high-tech electric race-karts, small businesses across the country are making important changes to lower their carbon footprint, increase consumer confidence, choice and value for money and help meet the UK’s target of becoming net zero by 2050.
As the UK’s 5.5 million small businesses make up 99% of the UK’s enterprises, employ 61% of the UK workforce and generate £2.3 trillion of revenue to the economy, our small businesses can make a huge impact our collective carbon footprint as the same time as future-proofing their business.
Innovative steps are being taken up and down the country this season to ensure this Christmas is a green one. For example, indoor Midlands-based Teamworks Karting has installed energy saving festive lighting to create an eco-friendly Santa’s Grotto, London-based fashion company Been London and South West England’s Solar Panel company Naked Solar Ltd are both switching to electric vehicles and other cleaner forms of transport to reduce their carbon footprint of deliveries, and Edinburgh-based Pizza oven company, OONI Pizza, has been working in collaboration across their supply chain on energy efficiency measures to ensure high-quality, long-lasting products for life, not just for Christmas.
Thanks to small changes like these, the UK’s small business community is seeing first-hand that taking action on climate change will not only help protect the planet, but also help their businesses to grow, seize new opportunities, ultimately helping them maintain a competitive advantage locally and globally.
Greg Hands Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change said: "The UK’s small business community is leading the charge to go green and fully embracing the new opportunities it brings. We are determined to ensure they have the tools and resources needed to grow, create jobs and attract new customers while delivering a greener future."
These are just a few of the thousands of small businesses in the UK who have signed up to the UK government’s UK Business Climate Hub, launched in June 2021 to encourage small businesses to go green. These actions are supported by the government’s Together for Our Planet campaign, where businesses can get advice and support and commit to become net zero. So far, the campaign has helped drive 2,566 sign-ups to the UK Business Climate Hub website, representing 80% of sign-ups worldwide, as well as played a critical role in encouraging over half of the country’s largest businesses to make climate change commitments, announced during COP26 in November 2021.
These collective efforts to encourage business to go green form part of the government’s wider plans to build a greener Britain by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, paving the way in support of the government’s mission to level up by building green jobs and industries of the future across the country.
Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: "Thanks to the fantastic entrepreneurial spirit of UK business leaders from Penzance to Portree, we’re not only confronting environmental challenges but also making the most of the opportunities that green business presents. It’s truly inspiring to see the UK’s small business community stepping up to meet global challenges and I urge everyone to get behind their local businesses this season."
UK SMEs that are making the leap to put sustainability at the heart of their business this Christmas include:
Planet-saving beer: being green is at the heart of Toast Ale, an award-winning craft beer company based in London. With food production labelled as the biggest contributor to climate change, Toast Ale launched their business in pursuit of creating planet-saving beer by brewing their drinks with surplus fresh bread from bakeries, saving over 4 tonnes of bread from being wasted and raising £65,000 for charitable causes. As part of the SME Climate Commitment and thanks to their sustainable mission, the business has reached a wider audience, attracting new customers who enjoy both tasty beer and making a positive impact to the planet.
Greenlight for green growth: National brand Teamworks Karting is on the road to a greener future after committing to sustainable growth in 2021. Operating 5 centres across the UK, from Hertfordshire to the Midlands region, including its Birmingham HQ , as well as East Midlands and Northampton, the company invested in a fleets of electric-powered go-karts across, stating that, ‘electric vehicle tech is the way forward. They are faster, much more efficient, fume-free, far better for customers, staff and critically – the environment’.
Sustainable hydration: as a business with a mission to end plastic waste, the Wirral-based juice dispenser producer, generationJuice, is providing staff across sectors with healthy, natural hydration, helping people to ditch single-use plastic for glasses, reusable bottles or compostable cups. They distribute their refreshing juice dispensers to hotels, schools, restaurant, and offices and are making a real difference, for example, saving 3.6 million plastic bottles from being thrown away in secondary schools while cutting costs.
Home-spun and handknitted: Small family-run business, the Naked Sheep Hayle, based in Hayle in Cornwall, creates one of a kind knitted and crocheted items, produced entirely by hand. Providing a unique selection of hand-crafted Christmas gifts, Naked Sheep sell their products at local events to reduce product miles and use fleeces from farms local in Cornwall, which not only helps local farmers, but keeps the carbon footprint as low as possible. Their festive creations are also made from 100% natural products, such as plant fibres and organic natural dyes from plants, providing the company with a whole new palette of colours to work with while saving money by not buying commercials yarns.
‘Tis the pizza season: Ooni Pizza is a pizza oven company committed to using business as a force for good since it was founded in 2012 by husband-and-wife team. Ooni has now grown into a multi award-winning business that sells its products around the world. Headquartered in West Lothian, Edinburgh, they have planted 2.8 million trees to date, measure their full carbon footprint and are members of the SME Climate Hub. In partnership with Pawprint, the Ooni team have participated in sustainability challenges and collectively saved over 30,000kg of carbon – the equivalent of driving around the world 3 times.
The green ride: named Wales Manufacturer of the Year in 2017, the family business Frog Bikes have made a real mark on the bike designing and manufacturing industry. Using academic research-led design and careful sourcing, Frog Bikes have developed lightweight kids’ bikes that are robust and reliable and designed for longevity. Supporting locally sourced suppliers, providing accessible spare parts and reducing plastic in pedals, this provides both an exciting eco-friendly Christmas present and the beginning of a new sustainable lifestyle.
As part of our COP26 Presidency and beyond, the UK government is supporting all businesses as they sign up to the globally-recognised UN Race to Zero Climate Commitment, which helps organisations become more energy efficient, switch to electric vehicles and active travel, and become landfill free. By doing so, they can protect the planet and their business, and help us deliver a green business revolution.
Michelle Ovens CBE, founder of Small Business Britain said: "Representing 99% of UK business, small firms can play a huge role in tackling climate change and reducing the UK’s carbon emissions. There is huge passion among small businesses for sustainability, and it’s wonderful to see this inspiring showcase of the innovative steps many are taking to reduce their impact on the environment. More and more small businesses are making the important commitment to go net zero by 2050. Those who have not yet done so should check out the government’s SME Climate Hub, to make this pledge and get some fantastic support on their journey to net zero."