Does going green make business sense?
From the backlash against single-use plastic, following the BBC's Blue Planet II documentary, to the organic movement, emissions targets and demands for more sustainability, the impact of business on the environment remains a hot topic.
Can small businesses make environmentally friendly and ethically aware policies part of their business strategies – without it costing too much time and money?
Robert Rose, who along with his brother Paul won the 2018 FSB Ethical-Green Business of the Year Award, for their pioneering organic smallholding Rosewood Farm, says businesses thinking of going green must do their homework and ensure they have the backing of their customers. "They have to be prepared to support you in order for it to work,” he says.
Robert and Paul have a herd of about 150 Dexter cattle - a small breed ideally suited for grazing in the Lower Derwent Valley national nature reserve in Yorkshire.
While heavier cows would churn up the wetlands grasses and wildflowers, the Dexters can graze for longer without causing damage. The brothers have their own ethical "manifesto", which includes commitments not to use pesticides and fungicides, using renewable energy and ensuring the cows are 100% grass fed. The farm opened for business in 2003.
"Originally people thought we were complete oddballs! But just the fact we have gone ahead and done it and shown that it can work is starting to have an influence on other farms," he said.
"Farmers are on the front line of the environment and wildlife - they want to supply that market and help it. The challenge has always been to get enough people to care about it to allow farmers to change."
Rosewood Farm used to be better known in London than at home in Yorkshire, due to the city’s “large customer base actively looking for more environmentally friendly produce".
Others shortlisted for the 2018 awards ranged from ethical fashion business Maykher in Wales, to the renewable-energy-powered Highland Farm Cottages in Scotland and organic skincare company Made for Life, based in south-west England.
The Guardian reported last year that growth in green business was expected to outstrip other sectors of the economy and that the low-carbon economy employs at least 432,000 people, with a turnover of more than £77bn in 2015.
Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said this week that the "unprecedented global transformation to a low carbon economy" brought enormous economic opportunities.
"We want the UK to continue to be a leader in this global transition, and a leading destination for clean investment. Since 1990 the UK has cut emissions by more than 40%, while growing our economy by more than two-thirds, the best performance in the G7."
Entries for the 2019 FSB Ethical-Green Business of the Year award opened in August for firms with successful ethical, socially responsible or green practices which have improved their businesses.
FSB are searching ethical, socially responsible and green businesses to put themselves forward to be recognised as Ethical – Green Business of the Year at the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards for 2019. Nominations are open now, visit to find out more and to enter: https://www.fsbawards.co.uk/