Sustainable business support – more important now than ever
You’ve probably heard a lot about the need for businesses to go green – in fact, it was widely circulated as one of the top business trends of 2022.
It is something businesses across the country are working hard to achieve. According to the Federation of Small Businesses, over 1,200 businesses are aiming to be more sustainable.
“By going green, there will be benefits to health, wealth and the welfare of citizens around the world,” said Beverley Nielsen in a recent think piece for BCU Advantage on sustainable business support.
“Going green provides you with an enhanced brand image, as well as a positive effect on your costs. O2’s green calculator finds that some companies can save around £2.6 million a year.”
So, how can your business be more sustainable? With World Environment Day approaching, we shine a light on some of STEAMhouse’s most sustainable companies and ask them for some key insight.
The importance of understanding your supply chain
Julian Todd is the Founder of Nocomoto, a Birmingham-based startup that is developing an all-weather electric bike, Evolv365, for sale in the UK and EU.
“Most people find traditional bikes unattractive,” Julian explains. “Our goal is to offer a viable alternative to cars and vans for urban journeys.”
Julian has been involved in various sustainability initiatives at STEAMhouse since 2019, fully utilising workshop facilities and technical support.
What kind of obstacles may green businesses face?
“Access to development finance is always a challenge,” Julian says.
“UK Research and Innovation is probably the best place to start looking for relevant grants. Development loans at very competitive rates are also available.
What sustainable business support does Julian recommend?
“A great place for any business to start looking for sustainability improvements is their upstream and downstream supply chain. Sourcing more environmentally friendly materials and finding ways to re-purpose “waste” can potentially save money as well as the planet!”
Julian believes that all businesses have an important role to play in reducing carbon emissions, pollution and wastefulness.
“If you have an idea for a new product, STEAMhouse will really help you explore the idea and build the prototype,” he enthuses.
Create as little waste as possible
Tom Payne, who makes homeware products using environmentally friendly materials, first got involved with STEAMhouse through a course in which participants could learn more about biomaterials.
“I then discovered the great STEAMhouse Create programme,” he says. “I thought all the services and support offered was great, so I applied to become a member.”
Since then, STEAMhouse has helped him to confidently experiment with and utilise biomaterials, among others.
“With the support of STEAMhouse, I have begun to incorporate more waste stream materials in the development of my work,” Tom says.
“I am now more confident experimenting with biomaterials and have been learning how my business can be part of the circular economy.”
As for advice for fellow green businesses, Tom advises creating as little waste as possible.
“If you sell physical products, make sure you use as little packaging as possible. I research what is in all the materials and products I use and where they’re being sourced,” he explains.
“It can be challenging to find sustainable solutions for everything, but as long as you start somewhere there is always room to improve.”
Value the lessons you learn from nature
Clare Hewitt works with the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, a world-leading facility pioneering research into the impact of climate and environmental change on woodlands and trees.
She joined STEAMhouse to receive help in developing printing techniques. Since then, she has benefitted hugely from the support on offer.
“The support I have received has been pivotal in bringing my ideas to physical fruition. I’ve learned so much from being within such a creative and collaborative environment,” Clare says.
With STEAMhouse’s sustainable business support, Clare has designed and built 24 wooden pinhole cameras resembling birdboxes, as well as working with processes to study life below the forest floor to document its changing needs.
Like Tom, Clare is now more engaged in biomaterials and how to utilise them.
“I am also a member of the monthly Materials Club. This has helped me gain insight from other members on creating sustainable products and publishing materials,” she says.
“Being surrounded by people who are working with similar – and also completely different – processes has been inspiring. It’s enabling me to become more conscious of sustainability and to push my work into areas that I haven’t previously considered.”
What advice does Clare have for those looking to become more sustainable?
“A really good place to start is to value the lessons you can learn from nature and the environment itself. My practice has naturally become more sustainable (from this).”
Looking for more sustainable business support? Apply to become a STEAMhouse member and begin your green journey today.