cumbria rural business support

South Lakeland businesses get support to go green

South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) has teamed up with Green Small Business to offer a heavily subsidised deal for firms to get environmental advice and certification.

South Lakeland businesses can get a half-price rate on a package of environmental advice and support, along with 12 months Green Small Business certification. If you are a business based in South Lakeland, email [email protected] and we’ll send you a discount code.

The package of support includes:

  • A high-level but systematic review of the environmental impacts of the business (via video-call or phone)
  • A draft environmental action plan and policy for the business, for you to adjust as necessary
  • 12 months Green Small Business certification

Why bother?

The decisions of customers and employees are increasingly informed by environmental concerns so getting environmental certification is a smart business move. It can also be a requirement for grant applications, tenders and supply contracts.

The Green Small Business approach is designed specifically for small businesses and organisations. Certification provides confirmation for customers and potential customers that a business is aware of its environmental impacts and that they are being actively managed. Renewing certification costs £199 every year, which is a fraction of the cost of other schemes designed with bigger businesses in mind.

The benefits to a small business of becoming Green Small Business certified include:

  • Providing evidence of environmentally-friendly practices which can help secure contracts with government, public or private sector bodies.
  • Saving money by understanding and managing how you use energy and water, where your raw materials come from and how you dispose of waste.
  • Enhancing reputation by demonstrating commitment to the environment to clients, customers and potential customers.
  • Improving your environmental performance by reducing resource use, energy use and waste.

We work with bigger businesses too and they are also eligible for SLDC funding support. If you are a medium-sized or large business (more than 49 staff), book a call to discuss your requirements.

What others have said

Here’s some feedback from South Lakeland business owners who have already benefited from this support:

Green Small Business has helped us to understand how to get started and progress on our sustainability journey. Taking the carbon consumption out of our business seems a huge and daunting task and now we have a plan I feel much more confident in making a real difference.

Serena von der Heyde, Victorian House Hotel, Grasmere

Tim managed to pull together what would have taken us up to a year to do as a team. Tim has given us the focus, structure and coordination that we needed to understand what net-zero is, how we are going to get there, and what our plan is. We hope to continue to work with him into the future.”

Dan Visser, Langdale Estate
South Lakeland businesses get support to go green

Free staff training on environment & carbon

In conjunction with Lancaster & Morecambe College, Green Small Business is now offering two training courses covering environmental and carbon management. Both courses lead to a nationally accredited qualification and thanks to funding from the DfE Skills Accelerator Fund, they are currently free to employees from businesses across North West England!

We can deliver the training in your workplace for free if you have 6 or more people and a suitable meeting space. Email [email protected] if you are interested.

Otherwise, you can attend the training at the Employer’s Hub at Lancaster & Morecambe College – dates below.

2-day course – making business sense of environmental management, carbon footprinting & net zero

22 & 23 June | 20 & 21 July | 14 & 21 Oct | 10 & 11 Jan 23 | 2 & 3 Feb 23 | 14 & 15 Mar 23

9am-4pm

This 2-day course will be of particular interest to supervisors, managers and business owners from a wide range of industries. Through the course you will:

  • appreciate the business benefits of taking account of environmental impacts
  • learn how to scope the environmental impacts of your business
  • understand how to better manage these impacts
  • be introduced to the different frameworks and certifications available
  • understand the principles behind carbon footprinting and be able to apply them
  • understand how to make sense of carbon offsetting and develop a robust net zero strategy for your business

Lunch & refreshments are also included free of charge.

Book your place here

1-day course – environmental & carbon issues in the workplace

19 May | 15 June | 13 July | 23 Sep | 9 Nov | 5 Dec | 8 Feb 23 | 6 Mar 23

9am-4pm

This 1-day course will be of interest to employees in a wide range of industries. Through the course you will:

  • build your understanding of climate change, its impacts and the global response to it
  • understand the scope of environmental impacts generated by business and the importance of managing them effectively
  • understand what carbon emissions are, where they come from and the particular importance of reducing carbon emissions from business activity
  • appreciate the role that you can play within your workplace

Lunch & refreshments are also included free of charge.

Book your place here

Free staff training on environment & carbon

Langdale Estate and the challenge of net zero

How Green Small Business Galvanised our Team to Understand and Plan our Sustainable Future

Dan Visser Director of Sales and Marketing for the Langdale Estate

Dan Visser is the Sales and Marketing Director for the Langdale Estate holiday resort, and part of the senior management team that runs the business.

Part of his role is to lead on sustainability.

This is important to him as he is also a member of the board of trustees for the Lake District Foundation – a landscape and environmental charity for the area.

“This is a great place to work because we have the freedom to be imaginative and to do things differently. Whether that’s in marketing, employment, or looking to be more sustainable and environmentally responsible.”

langdale estate carbon reduction

Set in the Langdale Valley in the heart of the beautiful natural landscape of the Lake District, the historic Langdale Estate offers a choice of luxury hotel and self-catering accommodation. Together with exceptional fitness and leisure facilities, a spa, restaurant, bar and traditional pub.

Surrounded by breath-taking scenery and some of the finest biking, walking and climbing locations in the country, the Langdale understands that the stunning environment on their doorstep is integral to the success of their business.

“We are very mindful of our place within the natural landscape of the Langdale Valley. We need to be respectful of this and aware of our impact. We have a collective belief as a business that we need to do the right thing and this encompasses many areas including the environment, our employees, our community and the wildlife around us.”

Challenge – the best way for us to be carbon neutral would be if the guests stayed at home!

As with many businesses in the Lake District the Langdale Estate is aware that their success means an increased carbon footprint due to the travel of guests and employees.

As Dan explains

“We are conscious that we create a great deal of carbon – there is no public transport to reach us, so guests need to drive, and we bus people in. This has become worse due to the pandemic.”

langdale self catering

But of course, the benefits to well-being and  mental health that the resort provides are much needed. Giving people the opportunity to spend time outdoors, to relax and recharge in the natural environment is vitally important.

Historically the senior management team has given this situation serious thought and taken progressive action on environmental issues.

However a recent change in personnel saw their sustainability champion moving on and the loss of knowledge, skills and experience left the team without direction.

We needed to revisit and revitalise our plans to set a clear vision for the future but the business is busy and we weren’t sure where to start.”

Solution –  Green Small Business Consultancy Service

Tim at Green Small Business supports businesses to better manage their environmental impacts. He works with them to develop environmental policies and action plans and provides an independent certification scheme to help enhance their reputation amongst customers and staff.

Green Small Business also offers a bespoke consultancy service for larger businesses to access support.

In this case, they were commissioned by Langdale Estates to work with their staff via a series of interactive workshops, to develop a new environmental action plan for the resort.

“Everyone was invited to participate – from a part-time barman or kitchen porter to senior managers. We wanted buy-in from the staff, a collaborative, whole team approach.”

The aim was to create an e-steering group that would be able to move plans forward.

Results – a clear plan created as a team

Tim organised a series of workshops which the staff found informative, relevant and fun. The reaction was super positive, very collaborative and the output from the sessions resulted in a clear path of outcomes and a plan of action for the short and medium-term.

“Tim was really well prepared; he collected a lot of data about our business and had a calm and pragmatic approach to the sessions which worked very well. He certainly does his research.”

“Having someone from outside come in and work with us has galvanised the team. It’s information we all know but having someone else say it and coordinating everything is hugely helpful.”

Dan Visser from Langdale Estate

Dan felt that the team had the knowledge and expertise amongst themselves, but under pressure from the impact of Covid and employment challenges, they needed the structure and framework that Green Small Business was able to provide, helping them to focus on what was important.

Tim supported the e-steering group to develop proposals for a commitment to Net-Zero that are realistic, clear and achievable – a massive help.

Our priorities:

  • To declare a climate emergency.
  • To publish our Net-Zero plan in late 2021, a clear and robust framework for action.
  • Working in conjunction with the National Park Authority to align with their Net-Zero aspiration for 2037. Well ahead of the UK target.
  • To use our fantastic network of organisational and community support to achieve our goals.
  • To evidence the requirements for B Corp certification.

“Tim managed to pull together what would have taken us up to a year to do as a team.”

“Tim has given us the focus, structure and coordination that we needed to understand what net-zero is, how we are going to get there, and what our plan is. We hope to continue to work with him into the future.”

Book a call with Tim now to discuss how Green Small Business can help your business.

Langdale Estate and the challenge of net zero

Which is the best carbon footprint calculator for businesses?

We often get asked about which is the best carbon footprint calculator for businesses? There are so many to choose from.

For all of our clients that want to incorporate carbon footprinting and offsetting in their environmental action plans, we recommend using ClimateCare. For those wanting to offset their emissions (which should always be a last resort for emissions that cannot be eliminated), we also recommend them for investment in offsetting projects.

We do so for these main reasons:

  1. Their free carbon calculator covers the widest range of emission types of all of the free calculators out there. It includes flights, road transport, energy, events, accommodation, food, freight and waste. For most small businesses, and many large businesses too, it could be the only calculator they need.
  2. Their carbon offset projects are externally verified for carbon and sustainable development outcomes using standards such as Gold Standard and Verra.
  3. Projects can be selected to align with various UN Global Goals to reflect different business priorities.
  4. Climate Care themselves are a B Corp and were recently recognised as one of the ‘Best for the World 2021’ BCorps – they scored in the top 5% of B Corps worldwide for the way they serve their customers, and help them take positive action for people, the planet and their business.

Check them out!

You might also be interested in our complete beginners guide to carbon footprinting for small businesses.

Which is the best carbon footprint calculator for businesses?

Help with B Corp environmental requirements

How Green Small Business can help improve your B Impact Assessment Score

B Corp environmental requirements are driving more and more businesses to seek Green Small Business certification. More and more of our clients are using Green Small Business as a way of meeting the environmental requirements in their B Impact Assessments. This article provides an overview of what B Corp is all about and how Green Small Business can help.

What is B Corp?

The B Corp movement is huge and its momentum is growing. B Corps (‘certified B Corporations’ to be precise) are ‘businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose’. Big companies you will have heard of are B Corps (Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, Danone and more), as are a myriad of smaller companies that will not yet have crossed your path. The number of certified B Corps is growing at a rapid rate, as evidenced by the current warning of certification delays on the B Corp website. The movement is truly capturing the shift in business toward ‘people, planet and profit’.

What are B Corp environmental requirements?

B Corp certification can be achieved by businesses of any size, from start-ups to multinationals. The process of achieving it starts with the completion of the B Impact Assessment, an assessment which spans community, customers, workers, environment and governance. To achieve B Corp certification, a score of at least 80 points is required across the various categories or ‘Impact Areas’.

The Impact Areas covered in the B Impact Assessment are: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, Customers and a Disclosure Questionnaire.

The B Corp environmental requirements are tailored to the size and type of business. When creating an account (which is free and confidential), you need to specify the sector, industry category, industry and number of employees in the business. These choices determine the questions asked in the impact assessment.

The choices of sector when opening an account for the B Impact Assessment are: Agriculture/Growers, Manufacturing, Service with Minor Environmental Footprint, Service with Significant Environmental Footprint and Wholesale/Retail.

I tried creating logins for a few different types of companies to see how the B Corp environmental requirements varied. Sensibly, there seemed to be most questions for businesses in the ‘Agriculture/Growers’ sector. The questions for businesses in the ‘Service with Minor Environmental Footprint’ seemed suitably light-touch.

There were 69 environment questions for my spoof Happy Carrots agricultural sector company, but only 31 for my real Green Small Business company (which sits in the ‘Service with Minor Environmental Footprint’ category)

Although the number of environmental questions varies, the categories of questions seem to stay the same, and cover:

  • Environmental management
  • Air & climate
  • Water
  • Land & life

How we help

The Green Small Business process is supporting a number of business to meet B Corp environmental requirements. Through conducting a light-touch but systematic review of the environmental impacts of a business, we identify where action needs to be taken and where priorities should lie. We then provide a tailored environmental policy that can be used to communicate environmental priorities to customers, staff and others. The policy is accompanied by a practical environmental action plan, which provides a clear and structured route for the business to deliver the policy and improve environmental performance. With the environmental policy and action plan in place, the business is then eligible for Green Small Business certification.

The most direct benefit of this for the B Impact Assessment score is in the Environmental Management section and, in particular, the sub-section on Environmental Management Systems.

Gaining Green Small Business certification would typically allow a business to tick all the boxes in the Environmental Management Systems sub-section, earning all of the available 1.33 points in this section.

With a Green Small Business environmental management system in place, many of the other questions in the Environment section of the assessment will also have been addressed. Since our action plans cover all of the significant environmental impacts of a business, the actions included within them will significantly improve the B Impact Assessment scores in the other sub-sections such as those on waste, recycling, transportation, water use etc.

For example, the section on ‘Facility Improvement with Landlord’ asks about efforts to implement or maintain energy, water and waste improvements within leased/rented facilities. These are precisely the kinds of actions which we explore with businesses and include within our action plans.

The sub-section on Reducing Carbon Emissions from Transportation includes questions on the policies in place to manage transport emissions. All Green Small Business action plans include action on these aspects, including the adoption of transport policies where relevant – we even supply templates for these policies!

As well as using the standard Green Small Business process to improve B Impact Assessment scores, we also offer consultancy support in key areas, including energy, emissions and water use.

Richard Hatfield, founder of e-commerce start-up Ventorq, outlined how Green Small Business was helping his business:

“As a small start-up, the requirements of B Corp can feel a bit overwhelming. We needed a simple but robust way of addressing our environmental impacts and identifying ways to improve. Green Small Business provided exactly what we needed. As well as helping us with our B Corp plans, Green Small Business certification helps to position Ventorq as a trustworthy and responsible business that does not place profit above ethics.”

Check out these examples of businesses that have already gained Green Small Business certification.

Help with B Corp environmental requirements

Book a call or purchase

We would love to hear from you. To find out more about how we can help with your BCorp application, book a call with Tim or send us a message using the contact form.

Get in touch

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How hard is it to be a Green Small Business?

Green Small Business was established to enable all businesses to think about their environmental impacts, take steps to address them and maximise the business benefits from doing so.

Lots of businesses have now benefited from getting Green Small Business certified but plenty more have thought about doing so and not taken it any further. We don’t take it personally…

From talking to some of those who have downloaded our free guide or made enquiries, one of the barriers to taking the plunge is a fear that they are not ‘green’ enough and that going green could be too challenging.

We do want the process to be challenging. Being Green Small Business certified means something.

BUT we recognise that every business has to start where they are and to move forward at a pace they are comfortable with.

That’s why becoming a Green Small Business involves meeting only two criteria:

  1. You have an environmental policy and environmental plan that incorporates all of your significant environmental impacts.
  2. That the actions in your environmental plan demonstrate a commitment to addressing those impacts in some way.

The scale and the pace of change in becoming greener is up to you. All we look for is an honest and genuine commitment to continuous improvement.

You might well be an eco-warrior with a radical approach to doing business.

You might equally be a newcomer to thinking about the environmental impacts of your business and with unknown scope for change.

Either way, Green Small Business is ideal for your small business.

How hard is it to be a Green Small Business?

Book a call

We would love to hear from you. If you need help with greening your business or have any questions or comments about any aspect of Green Small Business, please contact us. Book a call with Tim or send us a message using the contact form.

Get in touch

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Is ISO 14001 good for small businesses?

Implementing ISO 14001

Already fed up with ISO 14001 or convinced it’s not for you? Skip the article and go straight to downloading our free guide to the alternative approach! Otherwise, read on…

ISO 14001 is the international standard for environmental management systems. Many small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) are certified to the ISO 14001 standard. The figures suggest that this can be a brilliant business move. But that is just part of the story…

A certified environmental management system can deliver thousands of pounds worth of cost savings for SMEs. Take into account the new business sales generated and the payback period for a certified environmental management system can be less than one month (see Defra, 2011 Evidence-based study into the benefits of EMSs for SMEs). Yes, the cost of getting a certified environmental management system can be recouped within one month in some cases!

Which begs the question, why doesn’t every small business have a certified environmental management system?

The evidence suggests that, when it comes to businesses at the smaller end of the scale, standard environmental management systems aren’t fit for purpose. Specifically, they are:

  1. too complex;
  2. too time-consuming; and
  3. too expensive.

Too complex

A major report examining the use of environmental management systems in SMEs across North America found that a successful environmental management system can deliver multiple benefits. However, the report also found that experiences varied considerably. It concluded that:

“most SMEs face.. many difficulties in implementing environmental management systems… Even if they are familiar with the concept of an environmental management system, many smaller businesses lack the technical expertise and resources needed to develop and implement one.” (Commission for Environmental Cooperation (2005) Successful practices of Environmental Management Systems in Small and Medium-Size Enterprises: A North American perspective).

Developing and implementing a standard environmental management system is a complex task for any small business.

One commentator speculated as to whether ISO (the authors of ISO 14001) stands for ‘irritate small organisations’.

Achieving a standard that was designed to meet the needs of all companies, including hugely complex multinational operations, is always going to be a daunting challenge for small businesses. Reflecting on the tendency of procurement managers to require the ISO standards, the same commentator suggested:

“By specifying ISO14001 certification to any keen SME that wants to be green, the procurement manager is crushing their spirit… Don’t demand they wade through pages of documentation and fill out forms – at least not at the start.” (Large, C (2012) ISO14001: loved by procurement, hated by SMEs).

And even where a small business successfully manages to wade through the guidance, interpret all of the jargon, carry out their risk assessments, develop all of the necessary procedures and produce all of the documentation, a standard environmental management system will often feel like an ill-fitting suit for most small businesses. Particularly for those who have limited environmental impacts, a standard environmental management system will feel disproportionate in it’s size and complexity.

Too time-consuming

Disproportionate complexity leads to disproportionate time being needed both to prepare and to manage standard environmental management systems.

Bigger businesses often appoint dedicated environmental managers or pay external consultants to look after environmental management systems on their behalf. For smaller businesses without that luxury, developing and implementing a standard environmental management system can simply be a step too far. Just getting through the multiple daily challenges of running the business can be quite enough.

Too expensive

A standard certified environmental management system isn’t cheap. Even six years ago, a UK Government study found that initial costs to small businesses were more than £2,700 ($3360), followed by annual certification costs of more than £1,100 ($1370) (Defra, 2011 Evidence-based study into the benefits of EMSs for SMEs). Even those convinced about the potential payback may struggle to find the necessary finance to cover the upfront costs.

Interestingly, the study found that the costs of an environmental management system implementation do not fall proportionally in line with turnover. This means that smaller businesses have to spend a higher proportion of their turnover to get the same output. This is as clear an indication as any that standard environmental management systems are simply ill-suited to the small business sector.

So what are the alternatives?

I have been an environmental consultant for many years, advising governments, other public agencies and private businesses on topics such as energy, waste and climate change. I have helped develop environmental management systems for organisations and businesses, large and small.

The irony is that even in the small environmental consultancies I have worked in, whilst advising others on protecting the environment we have struggled to manage our own environmental impacts. The mainstream standards and approaches have simply been too onerous and expensive.

Alternatives to ISO 14001 are now available, including many offered at the local level. However, not many are genuinely fit-for-purpose in the case of businesses at the smaller end of the scale. And none that I’m aware of would be realistic options for sole traders or the self-employed. Yet there are many such businesses with a desire to be ‘green’ and to be seen to be green.

On the back of my frustrations with mainstream environmental management systems, but with a firm belief in their potential, I have now developed Green Small Business. It provides small businesses and other small organisations with a simple system which is proportionate to their environmental impacts and recognises that their finances and time are precious.

For more information, download our free guide or choose from one of our products to get your small business ISO 14001 alternatives.

Is ISO 14001 good for small businesses?

Book a call or purchase

We would love to hear from you. If you have any questions about Green Small Business or about managing the environmental impacts of your business, book a call with Tim or send us a message using the contact form.

Get in touch

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Next level sustainable packaging

Sustainable packaging is increasingly being demanded by customers. Making sense of the sustainability claims can be challenging to say the least – compostable, biodegradable, eco-certified, plastic-free etc.

With Coniston Stonecraft it’s simple. Every order is shipped with a postcard containing the following explanation of their packaging:

“For packaging we use recycled cardboard from a friendly local bike shop that would otherwise be destined for landfill. We use recycled bubble wrap and fabric cuttings from a Lancashire textile mill that would also otherwise be heading for a refuse tip.

So don’t be disappointed that your Coniston Stonecraft didn’t arrive in an elaborate, decorated box. Be proud that it’s been lovingly made, by a company working hard to preserve the natural beauty of the Lake District”

Their approach involves more effort in terms of sourcing the materials and packaging their items. There’s also a risk of some customers not appreciating the efforts they have gone to or the reasoning behind it. But Coniston Stonecraft are unapologetic and rightly so. It’s the right thing to do, both for the environment and their business.

Sustainable packaging is not easy. For food and drink businesses particularly, achieving a sustainable approach whilst still meeting regulatory requirements and keeping costs manageable is really tough.

We encourage all of our certified businesses to go as far as they can and to be bold about it, making it a core feature of their customer offer. When customers are weighing up what’s important to them, sustainability is weighing heavier all the time and your packaging is one of the clearest indications of how important it is to your business.

Next level sustainable packaging

Breaking trail with sustainable cosmetics

The Green Small Business process really helped me concentrate my mind on the essentials of documenting all the thoughts and processes that we currently do or would like to do in three clear documents.

It made the whole thing much more straightforward than the big company options. It’s also good to have a third party look at what we do and give feedback and advice. Money well spent and look forward to continuing our association.”

Breaking trail with sustainable cosmetics