Showcasing Sustainability: How Small Businesses Can Shine

Sustainability often feels like it’s meant for corporations with massive budgets and endless resources. But the truth is, micro-businesses can make a huge difference through their choices. The challenge is finding ways to let the world know about your commitment without feeling like you’re on a bragging parade.

So, let’s break down the ways you can showcase what you’re doing to be more sustainable in your business.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: From Global Goals to Your Daily Decisions

Those 17 Sustainable Development Goals by the UN (ending poverty, clean water, tackling climate change… these are big, world-changing things) can feel a bit intimidating when you manage a micro business. But the truth is, every small business already makes vital contributions towards several of those goals! Think about it:

Decent Work and Economic Growth“: Paying your employees fairly, or maybe giving that part-timer a much-needed raise? Boom, you’re impacting economic stability, right there!How to Share Your Sustainability Wins as a Micro Business Owner - picture of hands holding seedlings

Responsible Consumption and Production“: That commitment to sourcing locally, or opting for suppliers mindful of waste reduction? These choices directly impact your supply chain.

Partnerships for the Goals“: Whether it’s through donations, offering your professional expertise for community projects, or even informal mentoring of a fellow entrepreneur… you’re actively strengthening your social fabric.

It’s about seeing how your daily choices have ripples far beyond your bottom line! Identifying where your existing actions intersect with the SDGs helps you target further improvements and gives you a ready-made way to frame your sustainability commitment when showcasing your business.

Take Stock: Where Do You Already Shine?

Time for an honest assessment and a bit of chin-scratching might be in order!  Have a good look at your day-to-day and carry out an audit of what you use, how you operate and the partners you work with. Where are the little victories where you’re already making those sustainability-minded choices?

Working from home: Massive reduction to your carbon footprint right there when you’re avoiding the commute or travelling for meetings.

Transportation: Using a local courier and opting for grouped deliveries reduces fuel used. For local meetups, walking or cycling instead of driving minimises your personal emissions.

Community Impact: Choosing to have coffee with a prospective client at the independent café next door instead of a big chain helps local businesses thrive.

Technology: Sourcing refurbished hardware when it’s time for upgrades limits manufacturing impact. Choosing energy-efficient tech whenever possible directly lowers your electric bills, as an added bonus!

Mindful Purchases: Investing in quality, long-lasting office supplies (refillable notebooks, etc.) avoids frequent, wasteful replacements. When choosing suppliers, consider their sustainability practices too. Sourcing from companies aligned with your values shows those ripple effects matter.  This strengthens the whole ‘sustainable small biz’ movement!

It might seem small, but those actions build up over time and can add to the bigger sustainability picture. Remember to resist the urge to exaggerate or throw buzzwords around just to look good.

Authenticity builds trust. Talk about what you are doing now, no matter how small it is, rather than ‘talking the talk’ about lofty ideals you’re probably not going to be able to achieve. Honesty helps customers see your commitment is more than just marketing.

Consider putting together a sustainability statement for your business that you can share on your website/marketing materials – a great example for a micro business is this one from Auxilium Consulting.

Measuring Your Footprint: Tools for Small Businesses

Getting a handle on that fancy term “carbon footprint” isn’t as complex as it sounds. Tools like the Small99 calculator are a brilliant starting point!  Other carbon footprint tools include Normative, and Wren so do take a look at which one suits your needs best.

While these calculators might seem a bit fiddly when your office doubles as your kitchen, that’s no reason to throw in the towel (pun intended!) Focus on what applies most: those digital services (your website hosting, online subscriptions, that cloud storage) and how you handle things like client meet-ups.

Sometimes even figuring out which parts of the calculator don’t fit your small biz situation gives valuable clarity, letting you concentrate on improving the bits you can manage.

Share Your Sustainability Journey to Spark Change

Every bit of sharing counts! A social media post celebrating that switch to a greener energy supplier, a quick blurb in your newsletter about the reusable packaging you’ve introduced, or even just adding a simple “Our Sustainability Commitment” section to your website. Those small actions signal that sustainability is important to you.

By being vocal, you aren’t just showing commitment but demonstrating that even within the constraints of being a small business, making choices matters. It spreads more easily than you’d think! That client who loves your commitment to recycled stationary might rethink their own choices. Another small business owner you interact with could be inspired by your actions. Think of it—that wave of small shifts throughout the UK small biz sector adds up to massive change!

Just imagine if each of us highlighted even one or two of our sustainability wins…what a difference that could make. So, go ahead, what positive progress are you excited to shout about?