26th March 2024

Reducing carbon emissions and protecting nature is not limited to the immediate impact within the four walls of your business - the products we buy, and the supply chains associated with them have impacts too. We can work to reduce food’s climate and nature impact by actively increasing local, seasonal, organic and plant-based options on menus and increasing demand by celebrating Kentish produce.

Deforestation is a critical issue when considering our product purchases. Forests are vital in our fight against the climate crisis as they remove and store carbon from our atmosphere. However, many everyday products are ‘forest-risk’ commodities. This means that forests like the Amazon and other precious habitats may have been harmed or destroyed in order to produce it. Palm oil, soya, leather, rubber, coffee, cocoa, timber and paper, for example.

Other products such as meat and dairy can also contribute to deforestation as land is cleared to make space for livestock, or to grow crops e.g. soyabeans, to feed the animals. An area of forest equivalent to a football pitch is lost every second somewhere in the world, and the main cause is food production.

The human rights of indigenous people and workers are also of paramount importance. Sourcing goods that treat workers fairly and pay a fair wage is vital to ensure your business is operating ethically and sustainably.

Our ten tips for ethical supply chains aim to help you with your supply chain choices.


    The number one way to avoid products associated with deforestation and human rights abuses is to source products locally. You’ll be providing much needed local support and also reduce your carbon footprint too by minimising the transportation of goods. Find local food producers at the Love British Food website.


    Put in place policies around procurement. Ask questions of your suppliers and demand answers. If you don’t get answers that satisfy you, shop elsewhere.


    Land is cleared particularly for beef but also to grow soyabeans to feed pigs and chickens. Try reducing the amount of meat on your menus and offering plant-based alternatives. When you do buy meat, look for local grass fed, regenerative farming options. Ask questions about sources of animal feed, most local farmers are happy to answer. Similar care needs to be taken on imported / processed meat alternatives.

  • SOYA

    80% of soyabeans are used to feed animals - mainly chickens and pigs - so again, cutting down on meat use can make a difference. Other soya products such as tofu, soya beans and soya sauce will also have an impact.


    An essential item in any tourism business, yet rife with unfairness with the average coffee farmer living on £1.37 a day. Choose fairtrade coffee to ensure farmers are paid a fair price. Also look out for the Rainforest Alliance seal which aims to ensure the conservation of forest biodiversity. Seek out local roasters who take care to source and pay responsibly, an example is & Bloss.


    Cocoa farmers are not always paid fairly for their beans and climate change is making it even harder to grow the crops. Buy fairtrade chocolate whenever possible and also look out for the Rainforest Alliance seal. Local or Vegan chocolate manufacturers include Vegan Chocolate and Plamil Foods.


    Rainforests are being cut down and habitats destroyed, in order to produce unsustainable palm oil, particularly in Malaysia and Indonesia. A type of vegetable oil, palm oil is found in nearly 50% of supermarket pre-packaged food including pizza and croissants as well as lipsticks and shampoos. Use Ethical Consumer’s guide to find out which products include palm oil in their ingredients and how to source ethical alternatives. WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers scorecard is useful too.


    Always try and buy second hand furniture or use ‘upcycled’ items if possible. Look for local craftspeople using locally sourced or reclaimed wood. You’ll be benefitting local businesses and reduce the carbon emissions generated through transportation too.

    If you need to buy brand new furniture then look to ensure the wood is from sustainably managed forests. Look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification when buying both wood as well as paper products - it ensures forests are being managed in a way that preserves biological diversity and benefits local people.

    Lastly, ask questions of the furniture retailer to find out the country of origin, species information and their timber sourcing policy.


    Consider fairtrade and biodiversity friendly tea, flowers and bananas too. Find out more at the Fairtrade Foundation and Rainforest Alliance. And businesses such as Flowers from the Farm who represent local, seasonal flower farmers nationwide.


    It is not always straightforward to know what’s in our food or whether it has been associated with deforestation. The UK government is considering new laws as part of the Environment Bill which will help end the sale of products that cause deforestation, but it needs to happen sooner rather than later. Add your voice to WWF’s #OffOurPlates campaign as well as their EU campaign #Together4Forests.

Further information

Read more tips and information on how to become a more sustainable business in our Impacts Resources Hub.

If you’d like to showcase your business's impact on sustainability in Hertfordshire, sign up as one of our Impact Heroes.

If you have taken action to be more sustainable in your business, we’d love to hear more. Please get in touch with enquiries@visitherts.co.uk