10 tips to make your small business sustainable on a budget

Heart of the City | 8 July 2024 | News
10 tips to make your small business sustainable on a budget

Starting a new business can be challenging, especially when you want to adopt environmentally sustainable practices but are working with a limited budget. Fortunately, there are numerous ways small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK can make significant strides towards sustainability without breaking the bank.  

In this article, we draw on Heart of the City’s expertise in responsible business practice to provide 10 top tips for making your business more environmentally friendly on a budget. 

1. Measure your Carbon Footprint

Before making any changes, it’s crucial to agree, measure or to understand your current environmental impact. Start by evaluating how much energy and resources your business consumes and what waste it produces. This assessment will highlight areas where you can make the most effective changes.

2. Improve Energy Efficiency

  • Switch off unused equipment: Ensure all equipment, such as computers and air conditioning systems, are turned off when not in use. 
  • Use natural light: Maximise the use of natural light to reduce reliance on electrical lighting. 
  • Upgrade to LED lighting: Replace standard bulbs with LED lights, which use up to 75% less energy and last significantly longer.

3. Adopt Recycling Programs

  • Separate waste: Set up bins for paper, plastic, and glass to encourage recycling among staff. 
  • Repurpose materials: Find creative ways to reuse materials like cardboard boxes and plastic bottles, reducing waste and saving money.

4. Choose Sustainable Suppliers

  • Local and sustainable sourcing: Opt for local suppliers to cut down on the carbon footprint of your materials. 
  • Eco-friendly packaging: Use recycled or compostable packaging to reduce waste.

5. Implement Low-Cost Sustainable Practices

  • Go paperless: Reduce paper usage by switching to digital filing systems and encouraging electronic communication. 
  • Reusable materials: Encourage the team to use reusable items like water bottles, which save money over time and reduce plastic waste. 
  • Smart technology: Use energy-efficient appliances and smart technology to monitor and reduce energy consumption.

6. Sustainable Deliveries

  • Optimise delivery routes: Group multiple orders together or offer bulk deliveries to minimise transportation emissions. 
  • Green delivery options: Consider using electric vehicles or bikes for local deliveries and choose couriers with strong environmental commitments.

7. Engage and Educate Your Team

  • Champion sustainability: Appoint a team member to lead sustainability efforts, keeping the initiative alive and fostering a culture of eco-awareness. 
  • Employee incentives: Encourage sustainable commuting options like cycling by participating in schemes such as the Cycle to Work scheme.

8. Leverage Free Resources and Grants

  • Government grants: Explore available grants and funding opportunities to offset the costs of sustainable upgrades. You can often find these on your local council website.  
  • Online resources: Utilise free online tools and educational resources to stay informed about the latest sustainability practices. 
  • Look to your industry: Some industries have specific resources and pledges. The Heart of the City team have listed a number of useful organisations so you don’t have to search too hard! 

9. Improve Water Efficiency

  • Ensure all leaks are fixed promptly to avoid water wastage. 
  • Use devices like low-flow taps and toilets to reduce water consumption.

10. Encourage a Green Office Culture

  • Promote green practices: Encourage employees to adopt green practices such as reducing waste, recycling, and conserving energy. 
  • Green Transport Policy: Implement a green transport policy to encourage sustainable travel options for employees. 

Download Heart of the City’s free Climate Action Toolkit 

Heart of the City’s free online Climate Action Toolkit has been designed for SMEs in collaboration with experts in sustainability and climate change to help you create your net zero action plan in just four simple steps. Click here to download the Climate Action Toolkit today.

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