How to be a sustainable business at Christmas

We’re here to show you how your business can be sustainable in the busy month of December


What’s the difference between Father Christmas and a small business leader? Actually, the real question you should be asking is, ‘What are the similarities?’ because, well, there are many! Both work tirelessly to serve their customers, both are in charge of the welfare of their workforce, and both can usually find themselves working overtime to get home in time for Christmas.

However, while winter holiday season is a key period for many businesses financially, it’s also a great time to reflect on key principles and purpose. And for the majority of businesses, sustainability comes high up this list.

Whether it’s investing in sustainable suppliers or reusing previously discarded resources, there are many ways small businesses can ensure sustainability standards don’t slip around the end of the year.

So, with the help of insights from some festive business leaders, here are three sustainable practices or initiatives that you can integrate into your business model.


Supporting green suppliers

Businesses, both big and small, do not exist in a vacuum. Without the help of suppliers throughout a supply chain, any small business would grind to halt.

When it comes to sustainability, it’s crucial that small businesses are promoting sustainable practices throughout their supply network, not just within their shops or offices. As Jessica Sansom, former head of sustainability at Innocent Drinks, believes, commitment to sustainable supply chains is more of, “a strategic imperative than a choice”. In her time at Innocent, Jessica says that the business took the decision to invest in sustainable agriculture practices, rewarding suppliers who put sustainability at the forefront of their purpose.

Aside from breathing much needed life into an agriculture industry in need, Innocent also benefited from its sustainable investment. Following the move, Jessica cites improvements to Innocent’s security of supply and quality of product.

So, whether it’s buying from local wholesalers to cut food miles or working with businesses who prioritise sustainability, the support of green suppliers can benefit both external parties and your business.


Making use of otherwise wasted resources

The winter holiday season is well-known for the exchanging of gifts and big plates of food. But, while we all enjoy a mince pie and a gift from our loved ones, the festive season produces alarming amounts of waste. This is typified by wrapping paper. In the UK alone, it has been found that 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is used every year, most ending up in bins across the country.

With this stat in mind, business leaders must make the most of every resource available, even those that are deemed ‘ugly’ or excess to requirements.

Jenny Costa has taken the old adage of ‘waste not, want not’ and turned it into a highly successful business model. Inspired by the images of fresh fruit and veg being wasted by the pallet in the markets of London, Jenny created Rubies in the Rubble, a business which makes sustainably sourced condiments from otherwise discarded food goods. Whether it’s ketchup made from surplus pears (potentially dislodged by partridges) or mayonnaise made from aquafaba, Jenny wastes nothing when it comes to fulfilling her business goals.

From repurposing old packaging to giving faulty products new life, Jenny’s business is an example that nothing ever truly loses the ability to be useful.


Sell products that will last longer than the festive period

According to one report, the European shopper spends on average €193 on Christmas gifts every year. And while many businesses will see sales soar during this period, considering how long products will continue to be useful for after purchase is important. Cutting out waste is critical to tackling climate change. So, creating products that last longer ultimately helps to reduce the amount of waste your consumers produce.

Fiona Spowers has tackled the problem of waste and consumption head on, creating Riversimple Movement, a sustainable car subscription service. Through offering cars to users on a subscription-only basis, covering costs such as fuel and insurance, Fiona believes that she and her team have built a sustainable business model which prolongs the lifespan of all their vehicles. While they’re yet to lease out Santa’s sleigh, Riversimple’s sustainability-driven model significantly cuts the resources involved with running a car.

Looking to incorporate sustainable business practices in time for Christmas? Speak to one of our V-Hub Digital Advisers about where to start.

Sustainable Business Growth For SMEs

Discover guidance on sustainable growth for SMEs with WWF and The Carbon Trust.

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