40% of UK’s micro-businesses believe reducing their emissions won’t have significant impact on climate change

Jeroo Doodhmal, Founder of Pip and Henry

Start-Up Loans, part of the British Business Bank, recently published research that reveals millions of micro-businessowners do not believe they can have a positive impact on the UK’s targets for a net-zero economy.

The UK has an estimated 5.3 million micro-businesses, which is defined as any business with between 0-9 employees, including many thousands of start-ups. The research found half of business owners would value information that would help them assess whether reducing their carbon footprint would make financial sense for their business.

The survey of micro-business owners found:

  • 40% (2.1 million) don’t believe reducing their own emissions will make a difference
  • 50% (2.7 million) find the language, terminology and information around sustainability inaccessible, 78% don’t fully understand the term net-zero and 72% don’t fully understand the term carbon neutral
  • 67% (3.5 million) have never sought information on how to reduce their carbon footprint and 46% (2.4 million) don’t know where to go for information
  • 50% (2.65 million) would value information to help them assess whether reducing carbon impact would make financial sense for their business

Consumers want greener businesses

Other research suggests that it makes economic sense for micro-businesses to consider reducing their carbon footprint. A separate independent survey published by Hearts & Science found, for example, that half (52%) of consumers now take a brand’s eco-credentials into consideration when choosing products, and one in five (21%) have made the decision to stop buying from brands because of their environmental impact.

Jeroo Doodhmal, Founder of Pip and Henry, a sustainable children’s shoe company, said: “Our mission is to help children take their first steps into the world more mindfully. While we create sustainable products, we do have an international supply chain which results in a greater carbon footprint than if we were entirely UK-based. Because a lot of our sustainable materials such as pineapple leaves and coconut fibres are sourced abroad, that’s likely to be an ongoing challenge.”

“There is a lot of energy and ambition among small business owners to make their operations sustainable and net-zero, but I think it’s fair to say that in practice it’s more complicated to implement both at the same time without consistent support and access to the right information.”

Richard Bearman, Managing Director of Start-Up Loans, said: “The UK’s start-up and micro-business community has enormous potential to contribute towards our national net-zero agenda and it’s clear that there is a job to be done in helping many to understand how important they are to that crucial process. This is especially true amid a backdrop of continued economic turbulence and rising operational costs, which is putting unprecedented pressure on smaller businesses.

“However, it’s more important than ever for consumers to see the companies they buy from taking positive steps towards the climate crisis, even if they’re not able to be completely carbon neutral. That’s why we launched our #GreenToGrow campaign earlier in 2022, to provide a platform via which any business can access helpful, de-jargoned information that explains the terminology around net-zero, as well as how to take steps to convey to their customers that they are taking positive action.