5 Minute Brainstorm – Inspirational Ideas for Becoming More Sustainable

Looking for inspiration about how you could make positive changes towards making your business more sustainable?  Our 5 Minute Brainstorm takes its lead from our changemaker champions and partners to suggest a range of things you can do to make your business and our area more environmentally sustainable, inclusive, accessible to all and supportive of our local community.

Could you do just one of them? 

Environmental Awareness 

The following are some ideas that you can use in your business to make a difference: 

  • Measure and reduce your carbon footprint – use one of our recommended calculators to measure your carbon footprint and look at simple, cost-effective ways to reduce it.  By reducing energy consumption, you will not only be saving money but also making a major contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and securing the future of our planet.
  • Make a carbon action plan – even small businesses can make a big difference by considering the environmental impact of their practices.  As well as helping to reduce overheads, consumers are increasingly attracted to businesses which have a strong environmental ethos, and there’s significant evidence that it also helps with staff satisfaction and retention.  
  • Become a leader in environmentally responsible tourism by adopting the Glasgow Declaration, produced by the UN World Tourism Organisation as part of COP26.  You can find out more about the Glasgow Declaration here. 
  • Reduce energy use – small changes in business practices can make a huge difference to your energy consumption.  Think about using thermostats to regulate temperature, and invest in technology, like light sensors and LED lighting. Check the carbon footprint of items like freezers.  An infrared camera test can help assess if your premises are losing unnecessary heat and could benefit from insulation. 
  • Alternative Energy —install alternative energy sources to reduce reliance on conventional options. Solar panels or wind turbines may be a great option for your business, reducing your energy bills while at the same time, making a significant difference to greenhouse gas emissions.  Or you could choose a green energy supplier that uses 100% renewable energy.  There are a growing number of providers on the market. 
  • Signage — promote energy and water conservation with clear signs.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — eliminate single-use plastic, and use recycled paper and biodegradable bags to minimise ecological footprint. 
  • Water Conservation – collect rainwater for watering green areas and implement water-saving initiatives such as small shower heads, dual-flush toilet cisterns and air-assisted self-closing shower valves.
  • Minimise Food Waste – measure how much food you throw away and think creatively about how you can manage stocks and use leftovers to create tasty additions to your menu.
  • Compost – by creating a composting facility on site you can significantly reduce the amount of waste going into landfills while providing excellent fertiliser for any green areas. 
  • Kinder Products — opt for environmentally friendly options where possible. 
  • Encourage Biodiversity —nurture trees and flowers through an environmental planting plan to encourage the growth of new species. Provide bird boxes, feeding tables and handmade homes for insects, repurpose the waste from tree pruning by chipping and use in place of chemical weed control.
  • Brand Awareness — stock sustainability-conscious brands, and prioritise plastic-free alternatives with limited packaging that are organic or that support sustainable charities.
  • Shop Local — support responsible local growers and producers for a shorter supply chain.
  • Work Together — become involved in local biodiversity plans, such as the 14000 tree project, and collaborate with conservation organisations.
  • Electric Charging Points — implement access to these where possible on site.
  • Educate Visitors – help visitors to adopt sustainable practices by making it easy for them to recycle and reduce energy use.  Provide clear information about public transport and active transport options. 

Inclusivity & Accessibility 

Here are some practices that your business could employ to enhance inclusivity and accessibility:

  • Welcome Everyone – make welcoming everyone, regardless of need, part of your business ethos.  
  • Think Space — create sufficient space to facilitate mobility and convenience for individuals using wheelchairs.
  • Build Partnerships — collaborate with local mobility service providers to offer hiring options for equipment such as walking frames, toilet frames, wheelchairs, and mobility scooters. 
  • Fun for Everyone — include accessible alternatives in your list of local attractions and offer help in arranging visits where possible.  If you welcome visitors for experiences, think about offering guides in plain English and using British Sign Language. 
  • Be Prepared — provide training for staff where you feel there may be a skills gap.
  • Learn More — expand your understanding of accessibility and watch your customer satisfaction and loyalty grow! Partner with organisations that can help you achieve this.
  • Hire Fairly — embrace diversity in your recruitment process and guarantee that every candidate has access to the necessary accommodations and support they require.
  • Access for All — give preference to accessible parking spots, entry and exit points, and introduce level ground access, ramps lifts, and spacious doorways where necessary. Make sure that toilets are accommodating for everyone.
  • Be Considerate — maintain mindfulness regarding lighting and background music to cater to the needs of neurodiverse customers.  Think about providing quiet, reflective spaces. 
  • Visual — ensure that signage is visible and clear for all.

Community Stewardship

Some initiatives that you could incorporate into your business to benefit the community:

  • Support Local — stock brands from local craftsmen, producers and growers. Partner with local businesses where possible including using local tradesmen. 
  • Community Benefits — offer residents and the community exclusive discounts, hold events and support local charities to give back.
  • Educate — create relationships with local schools and youth communities to enable young people to get involved in festivals and events where possible, whether to showcase art, projects, or exhibitions.  Help to create positive work experience and volunteering opportunities for young people and provide career paths. 
  • Charity First — if you are holding an event, consider offering free pitches for local charities, groups and organisations to showcase community work.
  • Mind Matters — prioritise mental health and wellbeing by incorporating mindful practices such as yoga, walks and swims.

Help lead the way to a more sustainable future 

Do you want to learn more? Watch the recording of our inspiring Tourism Sustainability webinar held in June 2023 with global leaders The Travel Foundation and discover how you can adopt responsible and compassionate practices to gain a competitive advantage. Join us in transforming East Devon into a sustainable tourism leader and let's future-proof our community together! See our webinar here. 

Other businesses across East Devon are already innovating for sustainability. Check out our Changemaker Champions pages for some inspiration.  Or you can watch our video showcasing positive practices.

Get involved

Calling all local businesses with a sustainable mindset! If you are innovating to promote environmental best practices, inclusivity and community cohesion, we would love to hear from you. Become a Changemaker Champion and get featured on the newly launched tourism websites for Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Seaton, Honiton and Ottery St. Mary. Join countless other businesses and be a part of the success that Visit Sidmouth achieved with over 1.5 million page views in 2022!