Going Green means reducing costs for small businesses

“We can all worry about carbon when we’re flush with cash. It’s much harder when you’re trying to keep your business afloat and we understand that.”

Ian Murdey of Go Travel is talking about the fact that, for many smaller businesses, the challenge to reduce their carbon emissions is not the number one priority.  Fortunately, there is a benefit that small business owners might find more persuasive: “There are hard cash savings to be made from reducing your carbon emissions as well as indirect cash savings from maintaining your staff’s wellbeing so they’re not off sick,” adds Ian.

His colleague, Robin Pointon said: “We actually find that if a company reduces its carbon emissions, it reduces its costs.”

Robin and Ian are part of a new programme of events aimed at supporting small businesses to make greener choices and reduce carbon emissions across Leicestershire.  The programme – called Zero Carbon and your Small Business – is organised by the Business Gateway Growth Hub.  Many local authorities have created their own green strategies to help meet the Government’s national target of being Net Zero by 2050 – a target which has been enshrined in law.

Anna Bright, chief executive of SWM who will be introducing the first webinar – What does Zero Carbon mean for your Small Business? – has 20 years’ experience in sustainability.  She understands that the programme has to be useful for small businesses who have limited time and resources: “We’ll briefly look at the local policies and how they affect small business but our focus will be on practical ideas for change and our speakers who come from manufacturing and hospitality, will share their stories to demonstrate how other people can do what they’ve done.”

The second session will look at the funding support available to help small businesses go green and the companies in the region who supply green products and services.

Session three is dedicated to making greener choices on how you and your employees get to work.  A number of electric bike stations have sprung up around the city of Leicester, for example, and retailer Next recently became the first business to sign up for the Fosse Park scheme ‘Getting to Work’.  Robin and Ian will talk about these but also about different ways of working in which some of your staff might work from home and avoid the commute altogether – benefitting the environment and their own well-being.

Energy efficiency at home and at work is the focus for session four.  The means reducing waste through switching off machinery and equipment when not in use, improving insulation and switching to LED lighting among other things.

Perhaps the most challenging issue is the one addressed by the fifth session – that of changing our behaviour when it comes to energy and the environment.  Behavioural change experts from Leicester and De Montfort University, Dr Sandra Lee and Dr Andrew Reeves will tackle this, providing business owners and team leaders with strategies to bring people on board with new ways of working.

The series concludes with a look at renewables and explores how Leicestershire’s businesses could adopt small-scale versions of technologies such as wind and solar.

Jon Egley, Manager of the Business Gateway Growth Hub, explained “Any of these no-cost sessions can be attended individually as they stand alone.  But we’re very much encouraging local businesses to attend as many as they can so that they can reduce emissions as much as possible.”

The Zero Carbon and your Small Business programme runs from 20 May to 1 July.  For more details and to book your place, visit www.bizgateway.org.uk/events