Caring, because your customers do

Sustainability as the new normal

It’s fair to say small businesses have borne more than their fair share of challenges over recent months, but during this time there have also been some amazing achievements.

We saw Britain set a new record for going more than two months without any coal-fired electricity generation – a first since the industrial revolution. And, as a direct consequence of lockdown, we saw air pollution levels fall dramatically, with more of us staying at home to keep ourselves and others safe. That change looks to be continuing, for example among cycle shops reporting a boom in popularity from customers looking to lead healthier and more sustainable lifestyles.

So we decided to carry out some research1 to explore how lockdown has changed people’s views regarding sustainability and what it might mean for your home life and for businesses. 

Sustainability doesn't end after lockdown

The research has made it clear sustainability is more of a focus for our ‘new normal’. The shift in the public’s attitude towards the environment has been matched by businesses, who are considering the ways they can be sustainable post-lockdown.

Two in five (43% ) people said they will continue to shop locally and support businesses in their area, even once all restrictions have been lifted. Businesses themselves also plan to echo these changes, with 25% of those surveyed hoping to localise their supply chains within the next year.

More than half of business decision-makers said a ‘green recovery’ should be a priority as the nation rebuilds, and 72% of businesses say the pandemic has made them reconsider their environmental credentials.

We made that easier six months ago, when we committed to provide all eligible small business customers with renewables-backed electricity as standard when they sign up or renew directly with us.

Businesses can lead the way

The majority of businesses we surveyed believe they are the group with the most responsibility for driving a ‘green recovery’, but this needs to be a shared effort, with the Government and consumers also needing to play their parts.  

When asked why they want to make their businesses more sustainable, two thirds (66%) revealed their main motivation was because it is the ‘right thing to do’. But there’s a commercial reason too: industry or supply chain expectations and customer demands are also key incentives for being more environmentally friendly.

With almost four out of five businesses saying their employees care more about working for sustainable businesses now than they did a year ago, being an environmentally friendly and ethical company is more important than ever before.


1. Research conducted on behalf of E.ON by 3GEM in June 2020 with 500 UK business decision makers