Is it time you looked at how sustainable your business is?

28 Feb 2020

With more and more news headlines referring to the negative impact we’re having on the environment, we have never been more aware that action is needed to save our planet. We all have a role to play in creating a more sustainable future, so what can you do now as an independent retail business owner on a budget?

  1. Buy responsibly

Reportedly, when choosing between products and brands, 84 percent of Gen Z consumers will choose the one that is more sustainable and has the greater social or environmental benefit. Purpose and sustainability are trending upward in importance and suppliers are offering more eco-friendly products. Independent retailers can adapt to buying responsibly much quicker than the high street chains, thus spreading the message via your customers sooner.

Consider buying from local suppliers, avoiding products having to travel long distances to get to. This reduces the carbon footprint of every item you buy. When this isn’t an option, pick suppliers that use minimal or no plastic packaging. If they do use plastic, suggest to them that they change their ways, and try to reuse what you can.

Ask your suppliers what their stance is and what they’re doing as a business to support environmental goals or find suppliers with products made from recycled materials, as well as energy-efficient items though buying groups like Bira Direct.

Don’t forgot to let your customers know you are doing your part!

  1. Review your commutes

Consider how you and your staff are travelling to work. If walking or cycling is an option for you, lead by example and start a more eco-friendly commute. You might find additional benefits in avoiding stressful traffic each day.

Encourage your staff to walk or cycle too with team incentives and competitions and share information about government-led cycle to work schemes which offer tax-free salary sacrifice payment options. When you next find yourself needing to hire new staff, make sure you advertise within the local community to attract staff that live closer to your shop.

  1. Make the switch to LED

If all Bira members switched their current 50w halogen spot-lights to 7w LED lights, the savings per year would be (Statistics based on upgrading 50 lamps per shop, switched on for 4,200 hours):

  • 9,030 kWh per shop
  • Total savings for all Bira members of 58 million kWh
  • Reduced Co2 emissions of 32,000 tonnes across all retailers in membership
  • Total savings on the collective energy bill of £5.8 million, or £900 for each business

For many, even if the drive for a more sustainable business is there, the main barrier stopping retailers from making the switch to LED lighting is the initial upfront cost. This move would be an investment that you’d need to know you’ll get the return on. It’s worth spending a little time investigating loans, including those offered by a smaller bank that specialises in independent retailers like Bira Bank, to cost up the monthly payments and find out in advance when your investment will start paying you back.

  1. Manage your waste

As a business you have a responsibility to ensure you’re disposing of the items you can’t reuse properly. Environmentally-friendly waste management is a core component of becoming more sustainable and making improvements in this area could have the biggest impact on your business.  Companies like our waste management partner will audit your business to provide a service based on your individual needs and that support your aims to be more sustainable.

So, from the products you buy to how your throw away your rubbish, there’s smaller steps you can take towards reducing the impact your business has on our planet. And the list doesn’t end there, there’s always more we can do! Click the button below to keep updated with tips, information and advice specific to independent retail businesses.

For more information on all sustainable changes for your independent business, visit our Sustainability Hub

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