SHOUT - CDC sustainability initiative

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Sustainability can make a difference to every business.

The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”
Robert Swan, polar explorer
SHOUT about every green success!

you take to improve your sustainability and reduce your carbon footprint can help your business stand out in a crowded market place.

But that won’t happen on its own. For you to see those benefits you have to tell people what you’re doing in a way that is meaningful to your audience.

That means you first have to understand your audience and appreciate what sustainability means to them and what (if any) importance they place on it.

The actions


Customers tend to fall into three groups:


“The planet and society is important to me.”

These customers are knowledgeable. They tend to put in the research to find likeminded businesses and are often willing to pay extra for products and services that align with their values. For this group, knowing that something will keep their carbon emissions low is a benefit in itself.

TWO: “I’m not particularly bothered.”

Customers like this tend to be harder to convince. They’re likely expect businesses to do the minimum but are unlikely to pay extra. For them it might be more persuasive to know that something is more user-friendly - that it’s recycled or sustainable is secondary.


In this case, the customer may be willing to spend sustainably if they can see a clear personal benefit to doing so. Price, location, convenience and brand still come first. But when all of these are equal, sustainability values and actions can differentiate a product.

“I need to know what’s in it for me.”
You can’t afford to ignore any one of those groups so you’ll need to vary your message regularly to reach them all.


» Keep your message simple and meaningful.

» Tell compelling stories about your successes that show your sustainability in action.

» Be transparent about what you’re doing and why. And if something is still a work-in-progress, say so!

» Show why your sustainable choice is better than the alternative.

» Substantiate any claims you make.

» Use CO2 Everything to quantify your carbon reduction claims.

» Use any green accreditations you’ve earned.

» Vary your message to reach different audiences.

» Show you don’t compromise on quality or experience.

» Make sure you comply with consumer protection law and any sector- or productspecific laws that apply to a product or service.

» Use all the options available to spread your message (on-site, website, social media, printed materials, press and more).

Use the ‘Green Claims Code’ - it’s a checklist the UK Government has put together to help you ensure your green claims are genuine and not misleading.


» Hide your light under a bushel - you’re probably already doing lots of small things that you could talk about. ‘Greenhushing’ is a real risk for smaller businesses. Saying nothing about your green progress could put your business at a disadvantage.

» Use lots of jargon - your message will get lost beneath it.

» Use vague or unclear language.

» Fall into the trap of lecturing peopleencouragement and demonstrating success is always more effective.

» Forget that building trust requires honesty and sometimes admitting that things still need to be worked on. It’s better to say ‘we’re 50% there, we’re working on the rest’ than to say nothing at all.

» Be tempted to ‘greenwash’ or make misleading claims - an engaged audience is a well-informed audience and they won’t be impressed if you say you’re working hard towards sustainability but are half-hearted in what you do.

A 2020 global review of randomly selected websites has so far found that 40% of green claims made online could be misleading consumers.
»» KNOW?
International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN)

Highlight changes at your premises

A study by YouGov has found that just over half (52%) of UK adults are influenced by the green credentials of a brand.



» Use your premises to your advantage and tell people what you’re doing, where you’re doing it.

Use signage right where the action is happening so customers can appreciate any role they play in the process and understand the outcomes you’re aiming for. If it’s about water then put signs by the taps, if it’s about heating they could go near to radiators, and so on.

» Encourage your staff to act as sustainability ambassadors.

Consider adding phrases like ‘talk to me about our sustainability plans’ to staff badges so customers know who they can ask for more information.

» Look at where else you can shout about the actions you’re taking.

Vehicles, packaging, letterheads, email footers, brochures, flyers and more. They’re all very visible elements of your business that can be put to work to tell your sustainability story.

» Make copies of your sustainability policy available so people can find out more about your values.

This doesn’t need to be complicated - but being honest, transparent and communicating what you’re doing goes a long way to building trust with customers.

» Be transparent about what you’re doing. Look at publishing regular updates or report cards that chart your progress to meeting targets.

» If something’s recycled, recyclable or sustainable in some other way, tell people about it!

There are tips and suggestions in this leaflet that will help you do this.

» If you need to print things, use planet positive printing. There’s a lot you can do to reduce the impact of printing. Ask your printer about FSC certified paper, recyclability, vegan inks and more.

Promote actions on your website

» Your website is your opportunity to tell people more about your sustainability story. You want people to be able to find out how you’re making a social and environmental impact.

» Transparency around what you’re doing can significantly improve your brand reputation, establish accountability, and create a positive impact in your community and beyond.

» Communicate what you’ve achieved with pride. And if you win any green accreditations, make sure to put them on your website!

» Don’t limit your sustainability story to just one page.

Consider putting brief snippets about your values on every page. Then no matter which page people land on they’ll still learn something about what sustainability means to you. This doesn’t have to preachit could be as simple as saying ‘our rooms are quiet and warm because we’ve installed new double glazing and superefficient insulation’. Always highlight where sustainability brings added, specific benefits to your customers.

» It’s worth taking website visitors with you on every step you take along your sustainability journey - doing so makes what you do all the more believable.

Use your blog or news section to highlight individual successes.

If you’ve put an employee or a customer suggestion into practice, write a story about it! Be honest and truthful and let your passion and dedication to what you’re doing shine through.

76% of smaller businesses are yet to implement a decarbonisation strategy. BUT....
94% of smaller businesses say they’ve taken at least one action to reduce their emissions.
British Business Bank SUSTAINABILITY »»

Celebrate success on social media

» It is a great place to share updates on your sustainability journey and keep in touch with followers.

» The aim of course is that followers could become customers and that customers could become followers!

» Don’t be put off by grand terms like decarbonisation strategy or carbon reduction statements. Just have a go at writing a few lines about each thing you’ve done. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how the actions add up!

» Always back up your claims with detailed evidence of what you’re doing.


» Eco-conscious customers are knowledgeable and conscientious. If you’re greenwashing (claiming to be sustainable on the back of actions that make little difference) they can easily use social media to tell the world.


» Keep messages short and sweet.

Stick to one topic per post. Aim for positive messages that customers will want to like or share.

If you’ve had a success, tell people!

» Follow other businesses and organisations that share your values.

Interact with, like and share their posts if they’re relevant as that will help expand the reach of your own account.

» If you win any green accreditations, make sure you tag the awarding body when you announce the award on your feed!

» Talk about how your sustainability brings benefits.

If your local sourcing policy gives you a unique edge, say so.

If your food is tastier because it’s fresh from the field, shout about it.

If your team took part in a beach clean, talk about how much you collected. Or if they’re volunteering for community organisations, talk about what they’ve achieved.

If you’ve been planting trees for each order or each visitor, update people on how many you’ve planted.

If you change to sustainable packaging, talk about how it’s every bit as protective but is better for the environment. Above all, make

sure you stick to the Green Claims Code!

Think about other platforms to share what you’re doing


71% of small businesses are likely or very likely to do more to reduce their carbon emissions over the next two years.

» Direct customer emails

These are a great way to update customers about what you’re doing.

» Recommendation sites, ‘best of’ articles or local directories that focus on sustainable businesses

If you come across something and think ‘we should be in there’, contact the organisation and find out the criteria for inclusion. Then demonstrate how you meet those criteria and why you should be included.


» Press - traditional newspapers and magazines

There’s stiff competition to get column inches but if you’re doing something that’s out of the ordinary and really makes a difference it’s definitely worth sending out a press release about it.

» Online magazines and bloggers

Identify platforms and influencers that are relevant to your market and share your values. Tell them what makes you different and communicate it in a way that shows them their readers will want to find out more.

DEVICE DOCTORS REPAIRS AND SUPPORT, Chichester Committing to carbon offsetting delivered wider business benefits

Device Doctors created an intitiative where for each repair carried out or service provided they planted a tree.

“We wanted to offset carbon emissions and become a greener and more sustainable company so that’s why we started planting trees. It’s had wider benefits though. Firstly our greener company credentials attracted new business and media attention. We also sent every customer a tree planting email as a thank you and that follow-up generated repeat business as well.”


This project is (funded/part-funded) by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. For more information, visit: Get in touch if...
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