Are you racking your brains… trying to find the balance between stocking ethical, pro-conservation, sustainable products in your retail outlet and providing the offers that are most popular with your guests and underpin your business? Or indeed the balance between feeding and hydrating your guests whilst using sustainable, recycled, materials in your catering outlet… only to find that your state/city/region does not recycle certain materials (or have an industrial composter facility)?

ConsComm (as a Conservation and Commerce Community) are committed to helping all businesses, large and small, to link their business agendas with a sustainable future; making that little difference, which will make the big difference, together. This is achieved through sharing ideas; defining, refining and replicating best practice; and influencing visitors, businesses, suppliers and communities. 

ConsComm are exploring ranges of products that can be sold by ethically aware retailers or culinary outlets, allowing them to generate income in the most sustainable/pro-conservation way. For example, many of you will know (and stock) Snare Wear: animal snare wire, collected and repurposed by conservation partners in the field at the site of illegal hunting/bush meat activity and repurposed to create art. A product that both highlights the beauty of the endangered animals and reuses the very material that threatens them. Such a relationship between the retailer and the source provider, means that direct funds are put back into the very region where conservation support is needed most. This is, obviously, a preferable alternative to products that are made and sourced in a less sustainable fashion. However, it is true that even these less sustainable products will still, generate the revenue to support your institutions and their conservation programmes both here and in the field.

Yet as many of you will know it can often be much harder to up-sell these pro-conservation/sustainable products than their cheaper, ‘shinier’ plastic alternatives. This is where your people can come in to their own. It is your human resources who can tell the stories, inform, educate and inspire the guests…  in a way that ensures they understand the true value and importance of that plastic bracelet made from recycled (beach collected) waste.

CREW have recently had the privilege of working with Utah’s Hogle Zoo and their 3rd party Retail/Culinary provider SSA to help capitalise on their unique partnership of conservation and commerce working together, in a coordinated and creative way; and not only are these two great businesses inspiring their customers but… they have inspired us too!

From examples that the ConsComm Community have seen, it is more than possible for supplier’s clients (museums, zoos and their retail/culinary outlets etc.) to have an influencing role in ensuring that their providers create products in a more ethically sustainable fashion. For example, by providing plush toys with stuffing made from recycled plastic or by replacing plastic toy packaging with reusable and recyclable packaging. In the culinary/catering department, forward thinking providers are reimagining the complicated and, sometimes, frustrating world of recyclable, compostable and reusable plates, cups and cutlery, in order to achieve sustainability and commercial goals. Are you forging such creative relationships like SSA and Hogle zoo?

We appreciate that we are far from accomplishing the satisfactory solution in all of these areas but every step that large (and small), influential attractions make in this direction inspires their region and associated partners and businesses.

So, it’s time to get thinking about your region and attraction… Does your region have an industrial composting plant or not, for example? And what are you doing in your retail and catering outlet that leads by example and influences the surrounding infrastructure?  Big or small you are certainly a big influencer in the hearts and minds of your community.

Remember, every little step can make a big difference – conservation and commerce together… every guest, every time!

Adam Senior
Managing Director, CREW
crewtraining.uk.net