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Interview with Zoisa Walton

Director of Business, Octopus Energy

Renewable power – is it unaffordable and unrealistic for small businesses? Is green energy just a luxury for bigger companies?


Not that long ago, businesses often had mixed feelings about sustainability.

Yes, they knew that green strategies were good for the planet, but they also thought they were expensive. Therefore, ‘going green’ was only available to big corporates who had the money and manpower to invest.

Thankfully, that thinking is changing, says Zoisa Walton, Director of Business at green energy provider, Octopus. She’s seen many SMEs who are realising there are ways to improve sustainability, that won’t cost the earth.

Customers actually want sustainability

The other reason sustainability has risen to the top of organisations’ agendas: customers are demanding it! “It’s the single biggest motivating factor,” says Walton.

“Take the coffee shops we work with; their customers expect them to source ethical beans, use recycled cups and green energy. We also know that consumers are more likely to buy from a sustainable business rather than a non-sustainable one.”

How small businesses can achieve 100% sustainability?

  • Do your research, and you’ll find that, especially for a small business, green energy is just as affordable as brown energy nowadays.
  •  Review how your business is consuming energy, to pinpoint where you could already savings. Small efficiencies like energy-saving bulbs can ultimately make a big difference.
  • Smart meters are a great idea to help businesses understand their energy use.
  • Look for new, interesting energy tariffs that are customer-friendly but also give back to the environment or local community.

Case study: giving back to Leicester

Octopus supply power throughout the UK; however, in Leicester, they created a new tariff (called Leicester Business Power) that would provide local businesses with affordable, 100% renewable energy from a local solar farm.

For every business signing up to the tariff, Octopus promised to donate £25 to Charity Link, a local organisation supporting those in Leicester experiencing poverty, hardship and crisis.

For every 25 business sign-ups, the company promised to plant 25 trees in the local area.

“The energy is created in Leicester, used by Leicester businesses for the benefit of Leicester, and even the logo for the tariff was designed by Leicester schoolchildren. The response to it has been overwhelmingly positive, too, attracting hundreds of businesses,” says Walton.

Switching to sustainable should easy

Walton insists that joining such tariffs should be easy. It’s also key to enquire about the amount of carbon that is offset as a result of their decision to go green.

“I think our Leicester tariff shows that it shouldn’t be about ‘persuading’ businesses to go green. It’s about suppliers thinking more creatively so that businesses can go green more easily.”

We have to tell the sustainability story in a different way in order to correct the misconception that buying green energy is more expensive and CSR is only for big companies.

For further information please visit octopus.energy/business

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