HomeThe Power of Building a Green Business Network

The Power of Building a Green Business Network

If you’re a small business owner, you might think your company’s carbon footprint is too tiny to make a real difference. But guess what? Small actions can create a ripple effect. And building a green business network isn’t just good for the planet, it’s great for the bottom line too.

If you’ve ever thought about who’s responsible for climate change, you’ve likely pointed fingers at the big oil companies, car manufacturers, or heavy industry. And there’s plenty of truth in that. Between 1988 and 2015, just 100 companies were responsible for 71% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

But here’s something surprising. In October 2021, research identified that small businesses are responsible for around 50% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions from businesses.

It’s clear that we need the big players to step up, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should sit back. Even small businesses can make significant steps towards a greener future. It’s not just about government targets and morality – your customers want it too. They’re willing to pay extra for eco-friendly products and services. And that means more sales.

Large companies often rely on smaller businesses for raw materials and services like HR and marketing And, if they’re reducing Scope 3 emissions, it makes sense for you to embrace eco-friendly practices.

The benefits of being a green business

Prioritising sustainability sparks innovation. You could uncover better processes, create new eco-friendly products, or tap into a whole other customer base. But it’s not just about saving the planet, it’s about saving your bottom line too,

Improving energy efficiency, going paperless, and creating better working environments can cut costs and boost productivity. Plus, remember what customers are looking for – eco-friendly products and services can give you an edge over your competitors.

Green initiatives can also open doors to finance opportunities. In Barnsley, for instance, businesses can access free support and grants to invest in green innovation. Check out the Net Zero Barnsley website to learn more.

The benefits of building a green business network

Making connections with other eco-friendly companies is one of the best ways to get started on becoming a greener business.

Like-minded businesses can help each other reduce carbon emissions, introduce innovative systems, and make improvements. You can share ideas, swap best practices, and even find ways to save money. By working together, you can inspire each other to be more sustainable.

Here’s an example. Partnering with a local supplier can cut your transport costs. It’s a win-win for both your community and your brand reputation. And it will catch the eye of eco-friendly customers who love doing business with green companies.

A wide and diverse network can be a real advantage. You can ask for advice, especially from those outside your sector, before introducing a new eco-friendly initiative. It’s all about learning and growing together.

Where to begin with your green business network

If you’re ready to start building your green business network, it’s time to get intentional.

What’s the goal? Who do you want to meet? Where can you find them?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

How to evaluate the sustainability of suppliers

Building a greener supply chain is great, but never just take your suppliers’ word. Check their green claims, especially if you’re using them as part of your own eco-friendly claims. False claims from your supplier can even land you in trouble.

Here are some top tips:

  • Look at their environmental policies and practices, annual reports, mission statements, and corporate social responsibility web pages.
  • Check if they have relevant accreditation (see above for details)
  • Verify if their products carry eco-friendly labels or logos.
  • Ask for customer testimonials or look at LinkedIn recommendations.
  • Investigate their compliance with environmental regulations.
  • Ask about their sustainable packaging practices.

Making it official and spreading the word

Once you’ve found your green suppliers, it’s time to develop your service level agreement. This should include:

  • Responsibilities of both parties.
  • Service expectations.
  • How to measure service levels.
  • Delivery schedules.
  • Your expectations on green and ethical practices.

Green companies are attractive to both customers and employees, so share your eco-friendly efforts. It could be a story about your new green supplier. Or educating customers about sustainability and product care to extend life cycles.

Teaming up with your green business network for joint ventures and collaborative marketing is another great idea. Co-sponsoring eco-friendly events or sharing best practices and resources is a fantastic way to reach a wider audience.

Overcoming common challenges when building your green business network

Green business is big and not everyone is sharing the full story when talking about their eco-friendly credentials.

Here are a few things to keep an eye out for:

  • Greenwashing – false or misleading claims about the environmental benefits or sustainability of products and services.
  • Red flags – vague or unclear terms such as green, eco, and all natural without an explanation or the evidence to back it up.
  • Misleading descriptions – for example, biodegradable simply means a product will eventually decompose, but not necessarily quickly or cleanly.
  • Unofficial certifications – logos or labels from unknown organisations.
  • Non-compliance with the law – is the claim within legal guidelines. For example, to label a product as organic, at least 95% of the farm-grown ingredients need to be organic.

The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has your back with a green claims code checklist:


In summary

By going green, small businesses can make a significant impact, benefitting both the environment and their bottom line. Building a green business network enhances this, creating collaboration and sharing best practices. But remember to stay vigilant about the authenticity of eco-friendly claims.

Get in touch with our Business Development Manager, Kevin Steel, to learn about Barnsley businesses working towards net zero.