TOP TIPS: The steps to a sustainable boutique business

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Green Tourism, the go-to standard in sustainability, is a sustainable accreditation programme that assists tourism and hospitality businesses create a framework for improving sustainability within individual organisations and ultimately the tourism sector.

Operating a three-level award programme based on Bronze, Silver & Gold, depending on the actions undertaken by a business, Green Tourism provides members with a comprehensive framework, practical actions, an assessor visit, marketing advantage and continued support from the experienced and passionate team.

Being a sustainable business is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ but increasingly an essential brand value for the hospitality industry.

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The advice

The first step to a sustainable way of business is awareness, set up a baseline to establish where your business is in terms of resource efficiency (electricity, gas and water) and waste management. Then you can start to acknowledge the areas of the business that could be ‘greener’ and prioritise and identify the issues that need to be tackled first.

  1. Waste Not, Want Not

Some waste is inevitable, however it is possible to reduce it to achieve zero waste to landfill.

In the UK alone, the amount of food wasted each year is the equivalent of 1.3 billion meals, with 34% of this coming from excess food on consumer plates, this is the equivalent of £3bn per year (WRAP 2013).

Cutting food waste from your kitchen can come down to careful planning when it comes to ordering, adding a daily specials menu to utilise leftovers or cutting portion sizes.

Recycling is a much more cost effective option than sending waste to landfill and can include almost everything from plastics to cardboards.

Other ways you can reduce your waste include, donating bedding that is no longer needed to homeless charities or animal shelters, recycling partially-used toiletries with special programmes such as CleanConscience and utilising leftover coffee grounds as weed killer in plant beds.

Green Tourism members need to show how they reduce waste as well as how they utilise recycling – for full credit businesses can close the loop by buying recycled items, including business stationery, outdoor furniture or carpets.

  1. Everyone Loves Local

Hiring staff who live locally, sourcing local ingredients and working with local suppliers – it all has a positive impact on your customer’s experience and can create a unique selling proposition, as well as having a huge effect on your carbon footprint.

At Green Tourism, we recommend you showcase the best of your region and shout about it to your customers – you can do this in several ways, all of which are really simple.

For example, name menu items to include the origin of the ingredient such as beef from a local farm. Or you can include a map to indicate where all your key ingredients have come from and highlight how many food miles were travelled.

Well informed staff are key when it comes to communicating sustainability, train your staff on all things to do with the menu – what the specials are, what the origin of the ingredients are and which are sustainably sourced.

In this area of a Green Tourism accreditation, members should demonstrate their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint through local sourcing as well as supporting the local economy through working with nearby suppliers.

  1. Light Up With LED

The right lighting can transform your hotel, making your guests feel at home, relaxed and welcome. By replacing high energy bulbs with LED alternatives, your hotel will become more eco-friendly and save money on energy bills and bulb costs, without losing the atmosphere.

LED bulbs have great illumination and can beat halogens for quality, performance, life span, eco-friendly disposal and cost. Sensors and switches can also be used to control the use of the lighting, reducing it when not needed.

We advise that member businesses first make this switch in all areas where lighting is used for more than six hours per day – such as the reception area and hallways. Then to achieve a Gold Green Tourism rating, and make further costs savings, we recommend installing LEDs throughout your hotel.

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