Over the past few months, we have seen many media stories about big businesses setting Net Zero targets that are earlier than the 2050 target set by the UK government. Indeed, governments around the world are setting their own Net Zero targets. According to the United Nations (UN), more than 70 countries have pledged to become Net Zero, and thousands of companies and cities have joined the UN’s Race to Zero initiative, pledging to take urgent action to halve global emissions by 2030.

For small businesses with fewer resources, such ambitious targets can feel unachievable. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be done. There are plenty of small steps your business can take - in fact anything you do will help, and if all SMEs do something, collectively that could make a huge difference, whether that’s going for a Net Zero target or aiming to be Carbon Neutral.

What’s the difference between Carbon Neutral and Net Zero?

Carbon neutrality is when you offset the amount of CO2 your business generates. This is most commonly done by investing in tree planting - trees store more carbon than they emit, which means they become effective ‘carbon sinks’.

Net Zero is similar to but goes further than carbon offsetting schemes in that it aims to offset all the greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere - for example, methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and other hydrofluorocarbons.

Having a sustainability strategy will help your business

It doesn’t matter whether your SME implements changes towards becoming Carbon Neutral or Net Zero, having a sustainability strategy will be good for the planet and good for business.

Consumers are becoming much more concerned about a business’s ethics, and the younger generations especially are driving socially responsible shopping. The US 2021 Consumer Intel Report discovered that 52% of consumers say it’s important to buy from companies with values that align with their own. Millennials in particular are worried about sustainability, with 63% being willing to pay more for sustainable products, and 72% of millennial parents staying loyal to companies that have sustainable or ethical business practices.

And once you’ve developed a sustainability strategy and know what steps you need to take in order to achieve it, you can take to social media and shout about it. After all, your clients and customers won’t know what you’re trying to achieve unless you tell them! And if there’s a choice between doing business with you or another company, using social media to show how your sustainability strategy is working could get you the sale.

Why water efficiency must be part of your sustainability strategy

After this summer, water stress has become a much bigger talking point. Water efficiency plays a vital role in the journey to sustainability, and it must be part of your SME’s strategy. The beauty is that, by using less water, you’ll also be saving money on your utility bills!

Possibly the best water-saving measure you can implement is to install and monitor a water meter. By knowing what your regular water usage is, you’ll be able to spot water leaks almost as soon as they occur because there will be an unexplained spike in water usage. You can also use meter readings to assess how effective any water efficiency measures you take are. These measures could be as simple as educating your staff about wasting water and encouraging them to not keep taps running while they soap their hands, make sure taps are turned off properly when they’ve finished with them, and report any dripping taps so they can be fixed straight away. If you work from older premises, you may be able to save a lot of water by putting cistern displacement devices in each toilet cistern - they can save up to three litres per flush. For more ideas, download our free Water Efficiency Guide.

If you would also like to save money on your water bills, look for a new provider. Castle Water is the UK’s largest business water supplier, and we could save you up to 80% on your fixed water charges if you switch to us. You can manage your account online on MyAccount and make use of our flexible payment options, and you’ll only ever pay for the water you’ve used. What’s more, we've got more 5-star Trustpilot reviews than all other water suppliers combined.

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