Hint: turtles aren’t the only reason.
By Douglas Gilmour
Sustainability costs time, effort and money.
It’s another headache to add to the list of daily tasks of running a hospitality business. So why should the state of the environment be at the forefront of concerns for operators?
In recent years, being environmentally conscious has become a selling point. We ditch plastic straws, install second and third bins for recycling and compost and make a kombucha from left over pineapple skins to give ourselves a pat on the back.
While these are truly excellent contributions, it’s now time to take a step back and review how we – as an industry – must look at the broader impacts of climate change and future environmental conditions. We have to realise that without serious changes, serious impacts on the hospitality game aren’t far off.
It’s easy to see our industry as primarily a retail-based business. We purchase or produce stock, create a comfortable and engaging environment to sell it in and pass that stock along to guests and customers for (hopefully) a profit.
But delve down hard into what outside influences affect us and you’ll very quickly be reminded that our major commodities are all centred around produce. Be it the sugarcane in the rum in your Tiki Bar, the vineyards producing wines for your underground wine hot spot, the cattle stations providing the beef for the steakhouse or the fruit and veg for your vegan haven – everything we utilise comes directly back to primary producers.
These are the same producers, who are most affected by our climate conditions.
Bushfires tore through Queensland’s major wine producing regions in mid-2019 and I learned from local growers, that they’d never, in their recent memory, witnessed such a perfect storm – with the fires as the final straw on a horror season, plagued by drought.
Some of the toughest people you’ll meet, are crumbling and now asking for help. They’ve been forced to truck in water and animal feed and for the first time, are considering buying grapes from outside the region, to ensure they can produce enough wine to survive the year.
With yields down on everything from vineyards to kale, producers are forced to either decrease quality (an absolute last resort) or increase prices, both of which have a direct and incredibly pertinent flow-on to the bottom line of our businesses. For some, neither option is possible, as conditions have already beaten them into submission.
So before it grows to the point where your venue is rationing the citrus behind the bar or your chefs are forced to bend their ethics and menu due to supply issues, start to think (even more) about what your venue can do to help.
Take that extra step to refine your Sustainability Program, do the research and stay informed – put your business’ weight behind it, for our brethren up the supply chain.