Expert Insight

How Your Hospitality Business Can Make a Difference When It Comes to Sustainability

‘A Life on our Planet’ is David Attenborough’s new documentary and has been described as his ‘witness statement’. I was lucky enough to attend the premier.

The film contained a plethora of compelling statistics that defined the devastating problems we face if we don’t stop destroying our planet. There are numbers for the rapid increase in global population, the increase in carbon in the atmosphere, and the accompanying sharp decrease in unfarmed natural land.

The message is that by losing the biodiversity of our land, we are fast accelerating towards extinction as our planet struggles with the excess demands placed upon it. The earth has finite commodities, but we are acting like they are limitless. The film does however end with a ray of hope. Attenborough lays out the steps we need to take to quickly redress the balance and allow the planet to recover.


1. Land use. Using less land in more intelligent ways to produce more food, such as vertical and urban farming.

2. Rewild the rainforests to restore biodiversity. Rewild more farmland.

3. Population control – end poverty and increase access to education for all people, which will naturally lead to population control. This, of course, requires global commitment.

4. Stop eating meat. For every one carnivore in nature there are at least 100 prey animals, so for 11 billion humans to be carnivores is completely unsustainable. It’s an absolute no brainer.

5. Abandon fossil fuel in favour of renewable energy. Everyone knows this, but with pension funds and big business still investing in fossil fuels there is a substantial way to go.

6. Stop Waste. Full stop. Can hospitality businesses

really play their part? You’re probably thinking that most of this list is beyond the sphere of influence of an individual or an individual business, with international action and financial incentives needed for this to happen on a global scale. And you’re right in that international action is needed.

However, we can all instigate actions that make a difference. Some of these involve supporting non-profits in a financial sense, but many of the actions we can take are changes within our own supply chains which are not disruptive or costly. They simply involve making more ethical choices in our purchasing decisions.

A recent Futerra survey showed that 88% of consumers want brands to help them be more sustainable, and many people utilise their purchasing power as a way

22 November 2020

by Louise Palmer Masterton, Stem & Glory

to make their mark, so it’s also a shrewd business decision to make positive changes within our own businesses.


I visited Amsterdam in February, in those heady days before Covid-19. There are some super-exciting projects there with vertical and urban farms. They are a big exporter of vegetables because of this. They get a greater output from a much smaller footprint in this way. It’s now also breaking into the hospitality sector. I visited a restaurant called Juniper & Kin which is on the top floor of a tall hotel building. They have a green house on their roof and grow a high percentage of their produce there. There are a number of similar operators in the UK and it’s a hugely exciting space to be involved with. We are in discussion with our landlords about making this happen at our existing and all future sites.


Work with the many new ethical suppliers who are themselves making a difference. For example, we work with a tea supplier called Reforest Tea. For one 500g bag of breakfast tea, costing £12, they are able to plant 6-8 trees. Perform your own sustainability audit (there are also individuals and organisations that can conduct this for you, or you could simply do it yourself). For example, it’s now widely known that palm oil is one of the main reasons that the rainforest has been destroyed, so eradicating it in your home, business and supply chain is one way of making an impact.


Obviously as a vegan brand we are hoping that the whole world will eventually refrain from eating meat. But even if you are not vegan, the fact that 65% of all the mammals on this planet are farm animals, their devastating carbon impact and land use cannot be overstated.

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