Small Business Saturday is an important annual event that celebrates local businesses and their contribution to the economy. It's an opportunity to show support for entrepreneurs, especially those who prioritise sustainability.

With an estimated 5.9 million registered small businesses in the UK, it's fair to say they form the backbone of our economy. Collectively, these businesses contribute £2.3 trillion - more than half of the UK's total turnover.

These figures not only highlight the importance of small businesses, but also the potential impact if a majority of them adopt sustainable practices.

In our current economic climate, it's more important than ever to support local - to keep these businesses going, and also help with sustainability.


Making a difference: Sustainable small businesses in London

When you shop at small businesses, you're not just making a purchase - you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want to live in.

Small businesses often emphasise quality, customer service, and uniqueness, offering products that stand apart from mass-produced items. They contribute significantly to local economies, creating jobs and fostering community spirit. These businesses are also setting a precedent for sustainability, demonstrating that commerce and care for the environment aren't mutually exclusive.

With Small Business Saturday on 2nd December 2023, we've delved into London's vibrant small business scene, shining a spotlight on the top recyclers that go beyond just success, by actively championing sustainability.

We spoke some of our top recyclers, OakN4, ActOne Cinema, Wilton Way Deli, Metronome, The Bowl & Roll, Nonsense London, and Run & Beyond, to learn about how they are making a positive impact on the environment and the community.


ActOne Cinema: Cultivating local support

For ActOne Cinema, shopping locally is not just a choice; it's a commitment to fostering a robust local economy.

Repurposing a 120-year-old building into a cinema and community space, ActOne Cinema sees sustainability as a core part of its identity. By using First Mile, encouraging reusable coffee cups, and utilising the company's own recycling services, ActOne Cinema minimises waste and contributes to a cleaner, greener London.

"Shopping locally whenever we can makes every sense for ActOne Cinema. Improving and strengthening our contacts with small local businesses and using their services wherever possible results in a stronger local economy.

"New small businesses will see the high street as a place to invest and existing small businesses will want to expand and thrive. In turn, that will bring increased footfall to the area resulting in benefits for ourselves, fewer empty shops and in time a wider range of shops resulting in even greater footfall. A virtuous circle that benefits us all."

Social Media Accounts: Instagram, X


Wilton Way Deli: Nurturing wellbeing through sustainable choices

Wilton Way Deli's owner understands the importance of carefully selecting suppliers who align with values that reduce environmental impact. Beyond obvious recycling efforts, the deli actively uses plant-based and compostable packaging and sources milk directly from farmers in kegs.

"As a small business owner, I choose my suppliers carefully. I want to support small independent producers with certain values, which do their part to reduce impact on the environment. I also provide human interaction and community spirit, very essential ingredients for our wellbeing.

"When I was a child, my mum would go to the local shops daily and buy just what was needed for our daily meals. Cost of living is crazy high, but are buying too much with our online shopping, not realising what we spend and how much wastage we produce? Have we forgotten what we learned during the pandemic?"

Social Media Accounts: Instagram


The Bowl & Roll: Sustaining the community and the planet

For The Bowl & Roll, shopping locally is not just a preference; it's a vital part of sustaining the local economy and fostering community spirit. Sustainability is at the heart of their operations, focusing on eco-friendly packaging, waste reduction strategies, and locally sourced ingredients.

Partnering with First Mile has been crucial in enhancing their recycling efforts, aligning with their commitment to reducing waste:

"We believe it's crucial to support local businesses. Shopping locally not only fosters a sense of community but also contributes to the sustainability of the local economy. We value the unique character that local businesses bring to our community and the personalised service they offer."

Social Media Accounts: Instagram, X


OakN4: A commitment to sustainability since day one

OakN4 believes in the power of local shopping to add economic growth, create jobs, and reduce environmental footprints. From reclaimed wood furniture to air-purifying paints, they embody sustainability in every aspect.

First Mile plays a key role in their journey by recycling wine bottles, food waste, cardboard, glass, and other mixed recyclables, providing valuable feedback on their sustainability efforts.

"We definitely believe it's important to shop locally at small businesses. Shopping locally supports the community by adding economic growth, creating jobs and maintaining unique, personalised services. It also results in a smaller environmental footprint due to reduced transportation and packaging."

Social Media Accounts: Instagram, X


Nonsense: Cultivating creativity and sustainability in Hackney

By supporting local businesses, Nonsense ensures that Hackney remains an interesting, vibrant, and creative hub. They actively engage with local businesses in their day-to-day operations, fostering collaboration and partnerships to strengthen the community.

First Mile works with Nonsense to offer zero-to-landfill waste management solutions, supporting their sustainability goals.

"We’ve been based in and around Hackney for a long time and supporting local businesses keeps the neighbourhood vibrant and creative. It also means we’re not spending our money on supporting long and expensive supply chains when there are so many incredible things being created right here in Hackney borough.

We also support and partner with local businesses in our day to day running of Nonsense - from working with local production companies for shoots, to welcoming creative partners into our own studio space to collaborate."

Social Media Accounts: Instagram, X, LinkedIn


Metronome Cafe: Where sound meets sustainability

Through their commitment to local support and sustainability, Metronome Cafe creates a welcoming environment that goes beyond just serving coffee. 

Metronome Cafe emphasises the importance of supporting local businesses and investing in the community. They prioritise sustainability by choosing compostable and recyclable packaging and reusing oat milk cartons as cup holders.

They repurpose their used coffee grounds by packaging them in plastic bags for the community to use in their gardens. Metronome Cafe relies on First Mile to ensure proper disposal of their waste.

"Shopping locally, and specifically at independents, is an investment locally. Whether your coffee in the morning or something else, you are making the choice to invest in something on your doorstep and support those businesses to continue to provide those services."

Social Media Accounts: Instagram


Run and Become: Personal service and a green gootprint

Run and Beyond emphasises the importance of personal service and great deals when shopping locally. Taking responsibility for recycling rubbish and used running shoes, they recognise the significance of sustainability in their business practices.

With the help of First Mile, they efficiently regulate their recycling collections efforts, contributing to a cleaner environment.

"By choosing to shop at small businesses in your local community, you have the opportunity to support eco-friendly practices while receiving personalised service." - Run and Beyond.

Social Media Accounts: Instagram, X

Why Shopping Locally at Small Business is Better for the Planet

Choosing to shop at local businesses can have a significant positive impact on the environment. Here's why:

  1. Reduced Transportation: When goods are produced and bought locally, they require less transportation. This leads to fewer carbon emissions from vehicles, contributing to cleaner air and reduced climate impact.

  2. Less Waste: Local businesses often have a smaller ecological footprint. They tend to make products in smaller quantities, which can lead to less waste in terms of unsold goods.

  3. Supporting Sustainable Practices: Local businesses are more likely to employ sustainable practices in their operations, from sourcing ingredients to packaging. They're also more accountable to their local communities, which encourages responsible behaviors.

  4. Promoting Local Economy: Money spent at a local shop stays in the community as it is often a family business, promoting economic growth. This can help foster sustainable development and reduce the community's reliance on unsustainable practices.

By shopping locally, we can each contribute to environmental conservation in a meaningful way. Make the choice today for a greener tomorrow.

Small Business Recycling with First Mile

We, First Mile, a London-based waste management company, play a pivotal role in promoting sustainability among small businesses. Recognising the environmental impact of improper waste disposal, we offer unique recycling solutions tailored to the needs of all businesses, large and small.

We inspire and enable these businesses to transition towards greener operations by offering easy, affordable, and efficient recycling services on a pay-as-you go contract perfect for small businesses as you only pay for what you use.

Our approach not only contributes to a cleaner, more sustainable city environment but also educates and empowers small business owners to be proactive in their sustainable efforts.

If you're a small business owner or new business, click here to get in touch today.