Sustainability starts small: Startups are critical in shaping our sustainable future

Small businesses may not always generate the headlines that their larger counterparts do, but their impact is no less profound on the UK economy, particularly when it comes to shaping its sustainability credentials

Sustainability starts small

Small enterprises are not only the most dynamic and largest part of the economy, but can often act with greater agility to adopt new approaches such as putting in place a greater focus on sustainability. 

The UK is still working towards ambitious Net-Zero targets, and sustainability has become the watchword across industries. Just about every sector, from manufacturing to retail, is under increasing pressure to reduce its environmental impact. 

Today’s consumers are more conscious than ever about the environmental effect of their purchasing decisions. Research from McKinsey indicates that products making environmental claims have achieved higher growth compared than those without1.

More than ever, consumers prefer products and services that align with their own values, favouring those that are ethically sourced, environmentally friendly and socially responsible. Small businesses, with their flexibility and agility, are uniquely positioned to meet this demand. They can swiftly adapt to changing consumer preferences and innovate accordingly, offering sustainable alternatives that resonate with eco-conscious customers. Whether it’s adopting eco-friendly practices in manufacturing or leveraging renewable energy sources, small businesses are often at the forefront of innovation, driving positive change in their industries.

Another way small businesses boost sustainability credentials is by focusing on the local. Many of them operate within their direct communities, sourcing raw materials and delivering products and services locally. By minimising transportation and supply chain mileage, they consequently reduce their environmental impact2. This localised approach not only benefits the planet but also fosters stronger connections with customers, creating that sense of community and trust for which small businesses are so well-loved.

At Start Up Loans, we recognise the pivotal role of small businesses in shaping a sustainable economy. That’s why we’re extremely proud to support so many green businesses committed to environmental stewardship. From retail to construction to consumer goods and fashion, we’ve provided funding and guidance to entrepreneurs driving positive change in their respective fields.

Here are just some of the businesses Start Up Loans has supported on their green journey:

Vocus Vit

Vocus Vit offers premium activewear for ladies with a laser-focus on sustainability. All of the range is made from recycled plastic bottles without compromising on comfort, fit and style. 

The start-up is also focussed on being size inclusive and empowering all women to feel comfortable and supported when wearing activewear.

Founder of Vocus Vit, Sarah-Jane Murray commented: 

“I set up Vocus Vit because I knew the detrimental impact of fast fashion on the environment and I wanted to offer an alternative.

“Embracing sustainability is more than a moral choice, it’s a really smart business move with consumers increasingly embracing eco-friendly products so businesses that align with sustainability can attract loyal customers and also gain a competitive edge.”

Energy Build Southwest 

Energy Build Southwest is an independent family-run construction firm based in South Devon. Founder Tom Weston saw a gap in the market as more clients were looking to maximise energy efficiency and make use of the latest green technologies when it came to transforming their homes, or building their dream home from scratch. 

Founder of Energy Build Southwest, Tom Weston said: “I set up Energy Build Southwest because I wanted to build and transform homes using the latest green technologies. There are really great new materials and methods out there to maximise sustainability, and we specialise in using Insulated Concrete Formwork and Passivhaus energy efficiency techniques. Being an energy efficient construction specialist also sets us apart from our competition. Having support from the Start Up Loans programme has meant that I could start the business with a good amount of working capital, which has allowed me to take on bigger jobs than I would have been able to otherwise.”

EZ Hampers 

EZ Hampers is a family-run business selling sustainable gift hampers. They source almost all products locally from other positive-impact small businesses, all of which are sustainable products, such as crisps in 100% compostable wrappers and eco-conscious sugarcane bath products. 

Founder of EZ Hampers, Lisa Storey said:Sustainability is at the very heart of everything we do at EZ Hampers, from our gift hamper products right through to how we operate as a business. As I always say, we’ve only got one Earth and we have to protect it, even when giving gifts. At EZ Hampers, we ensure all of the products we sell are either recyclable, biodegradable or are sourced locally to reduce unnecessary waste and to reduce our carbon footprint. 

“We’ve also ditched plastic hamper packaging in favour of widely recyclable cardboard or wicker baskets that can be repurposed. We often reuse packaging from our suppliers, and reuse paper by shredding it and using it to protect the products in our hampers. Local donations of empty alcohol bottles, coffee tins, and old teacups are also transformed by us into heavenly scented soy wax candles! We believe in doing whatever you can to make the world that little bit more eco-friendly.”


An e-commerce website selling natural homewares crafted by rural artisans. Pallavi Ghosh the founder has a passion for ethically sourced, sustainable home decor and offers a selection of handcrafted homeware or gifts from ceramic crockery to hand-painted wall art.

Founder of Anav, Pallavi Ghosh said: “At Anav, we deeply grasp the consequences of our actions on the planet and the legacy we leave for tomorrow. Our products embody both style and sustainability, proving that you don’t have to compromise one for the other. While a few billionaires may have the luxury of fleeing to Mars, the rest of us must face the reality that we can’t afford to ruin Earth.”

Anyone considering starting a small business would no doubt be inspired by these founders and the work they have put in to building a company that matches their own sustainability values. Similarly, Start Up Loans and its partners will continue to work hard to guide and support loan recipients to create a more sustainable business environment throughout the UK.

1 “Products that didn’t have ESG-related claims on their labels grew, on average, 4.7 percent per year, while products that did have ESG claims grew 6.4 percent.”
2 “Local businesses often have a smaller carbon footprint. Typically, they source goods locally, reducing transportation emissions, and since they’re smaller, they consume fewer resources and produce less waste.”

Richard Bearman
Richard Bearman

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