Top Tips to operating more sustainably

If you want to make your business more eco-friendly, but are not sure where to start, here’s a Top Ten list of simple steps. It’s not exhaustive but offers the first steps on your road to green recovery.

Why is it important for your business? As well as being great for the planet, some of our tips will help save money and help you stand out to consumers looking for more sustainable businesses. Our recent consumer survey showed that 86% said reducing their carbon footprint or making more sustainable choices on holiday was very (34%) or somewhat (52%) important to them.

Our top tips:

  1. Adopt energy saving measures: control heating using timed thermostats and radiators valves. Keep a constant temperature between 19 and 21 degrees C, proven to be the ideal temperature for a good night’s sleep. Insulate pipes. Switch to LED lights which use up to 80% less energy than halogen bulbs. Have your boiler serviced regularly. Use the timer to ensure it’s switched off when guests are out.

  2. Recycle: Sorting bins for recyclable materials is now a given but make it easy for customers to do it too (particularly in self-catering properties). Encourage suppliers to reduce the use of packaging. If you have a shop, are your products wrapped in recyclable materials? Recycle almost everything, bottles, cans, cardboard, paper, waste food for compost bins. Use bin bags that are compostable. Make sure welcome packs are in cardboard or paper packaging. Recycle stained tablecloths into serviettes, upcycle tired sheets into laundry bags or cleaning cloths.

  3. Encourage guests to be green: to recycle newspapers, magazines, bottles, cartons. You could place three-bin waste bins in guest rooms. Encourage guests to switch off lights, re-use towels and bedding; you could even incentivise them by offering a free drink or discount voucher in return for less laundry. Consider loaning bikes to guests or collaborate with a local bike hire provider. Provide information on local public transport routes and scenic walking routes. Develop a visitor charter giving them top tips and telling them why it matters to you and the destination.

  4. Start composting: If you don’t have a food and waste collection service, it will go to landfill; when it breaks down it produces methane which contributes to the climate crisis.Install compost bins in the kitchen and tell the chef! In addition to fruit and veg peelings, garden leaves, cardboard, coffee grounds, tea leaves, even the dust from the hoover bag can be recycled and then used to boost nutrients in flower and veg beds.

  5. Save water: wash fruit and veg in a sink instead of running water, fully-load dishwashers and washing machines, minimise the rinse cycle, install dual flush and low flush toilets, fix leaks, consider push button showers if you have a swimming pool. Train staff to reduce water e.g., how many times do they flush loos when cleaning? It’s probably more than you realise, but it’s worth noting major hotel chains are now adopting a one flush policy for cleaning staff.

  6. Plant a garden: why not create a garden to produce vegetables and herbs for the kitchen rather than extending a patio? A small garden, even a roof-top can off-set the carbon footprint. Raised beds can be installed almost anywhere and benches made from recycled materials will be welcomed by guests particularly if you’re by the coast. Could you create a wildflower patch or install a bug hotel? Many brands are now planting a tree for high-value bookings or offering guests the chance to pay to off-set their carbon as part of the holiday cost.

  7. Shop locally: Source menu ingredients nearby, discovering local food and drink is increasingly preferred by guests, gives you a USP and reduces stress in the supply chain while simultaneously reducing emissions and energy usage. Use free-range eggs, better still, have some free-range hens! 43% of consumers would like to see more locally sourced food and drink available at the coast. Shop locally for other goods too, fixtures and fittings, tableware, gift shop products, even art – go local to add a unique quality to your product

  8. Use eco-friendly amenities: supply bamboo toothbrushes, bio-degradable shower caps, eco-friendly shampoos, soaps and conditioners, now readily available and demonstrate to guests your commitment to the environment. If you operate an attraction or shop, sell reusable branded shopping bags and consider sustainability when reviewing new products for sale.

  9. Cut plastic use: consider branded reusable water bottles for guests, make it easy for guests to refill bottles. Use refillable soap, shampoo and hand cream dispensers. Invest in good quality durable cups, glasses and utensils and abandon plastic straws. Store food in stainless steel containers.

  10. Support local communities: A more holistic approach to sustainability includes supporting your local communities. Consider making one of your nominated charities a local cause, support local beach clean-up days, encourage staff to volunteer at the local homeless shelter, have a resident’s open day, offer to support your local school perhaps hosting work placements, talking to students or providing prizes for their fundraising efforts.

If you’ve just discovered you’re already doing many of these steps in your business REMEMBER to tell your customers about it, they would love to hear what you’re doing to help our planet and local communities!

Bonus tip! Communicate effectively: If you’ve taken measures to safeguard the environment and want to promote sustainable tourism, getting your message across is key to inspiring guests and encouraging them to be more sustainable. Share your good practices and spread the message online on all your social networks, on your website and within your business through stories, posters and tips. Look for the right hashtags and focus on positive messages.

For further information and advice check out the VisitEngland Business Advice Hub or Green Tourism Business Scheme or Green Key