David Arden
David Arden

How communal businesses are adapting to environmental concerns

(Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)
(Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)

Whether it is protestors making their voices heard, world leaders meeting in Scotland at COP26 or the changes in our own homes and synagogues, there’s no doubt that the environment has dominated our thinking lately.

The Collins Dictionary has just named ‘climate anxiety’ – the term which reflects people’s growing concerns about climate change – one of their Words of the Year.

It is easy to be anxious, and feel helpless, in the face of the climate emergency – especially if you’re a small business owner thinking there is little you can contribute.

There are, however, many things that can be done and many innovations and changes we are seeing in businesses right here in our own Jewish community.

A recent report by the British Business Bank showed that small and medium-sized companies are collectively responsible for around a third of the total carbon emissions that the UK produces.

Getting this number down is not only vital for our planet, but there are two big benefits for business too – as we have found with many of the entrepreneurs and small businesses we work with.

First is the access to various eco small business grants to help fund environmental projects, adopt green technologies and become more sustainable.

Funding, which is often distributed by local authorities, must fit into one of five categories: renewable energy business grants; sustainability grants; energy efficiency grants; sustainable innovation; or green jobs.

The second advantage is the long-term benefits that can be gained by adapting a business to match the changing shopping habits of consumers, especially younger ones.

A recent survey by Deloitte found that two thirds of consumers want businesses to take the lead in reducing their environmental impact, with 28% saying they have stopped buying products and services entirely due to ethical or green concerns.

Generation Z – roughly anyone in their early 20s or younger – are the most conscious consumers of all – with half of them reducing or stopping purchases that go against their sustainability and ethical considerations.

Making real changes that appeal to these consumers can be win/win for everyone, especially where funding is available to do it.

I spoke to two very different small businesses in our network who have put environmental concerns at the heart of what they do.

Amir Gross is the founder of Treetop Biopak (www.treetopbiopak.co.uk), which specialises in compostable packaging – green alternatives to plastic. The packaging materials provide all the protection and presentation products require, while also composting once discarded.

Amir told me: “Plastic pollution is a global crisis affecting people, animals, sea and soil. It was important to me to offer products that would present a solution – packaging without the negative impact.

“Plastic pollution is also at the top of consumers concern and a move to compostable packs attracts new customers improves brands’ position, and helps meet CSR and investors’ goals.”

Sonia Rosenblatt

Sonia Rosenblatt, a member of WE Hub shared workspace, is the owner of SavvySEO (www.savvyseo.co.uk), which provides search engine optimisation and web design for companies with products or services that make a positive environmental impact.

Sonia said: “The environmental crisis, already affecting millions of people worldwide is a long-term threat to everyone’s well-being and is one of the greatest challenges the world has ever faced.

“I’ve been passionate about environmental issues for as long as I can remember which is why I want to help sustainability-focused companies be more visible online so that consumers can find their products and services more easily.

“Embedding environmental sustainability into a business reduces costs, improves reputation, provides a competitive advantage and boosts the bottom line.

“But more importantly, it’s simply the ethical thing to do.”

About the Author
David Arden is the CEO of Work Avenue. He has a background in project management, business change and delivering strategy and has held roles in the public, private and not for profit sectors. 
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