When we’re on holiday we all want to do our best to keep up our eco efforts from home, and the great news is if you’re visiting South Devon help is at hand. There are many tourism businesses in South Devon which have outstanding eco and sustainable credentials and are leading the way when it comes to helping you look after the environment when you’re on your holiday.

So to kick start your trip in the greenest possible way, have a look at booking or planning a visit to one of the wonderful sustainable South Devon businesses below. 

Higher Wiscombe

In the heart of the East Devon AONB, Higher Wiscombe luxury holiday cottages are surrounded by the spectacular countryside they are helping to protect. The cottages, farmhouse and pool are heated by a 150KW biomass boiler which saves over 47 tonnes of carbon a year. All the water is sourced from three spring fed wells, filtered and neutralised with nothing added but salt and the waste water is treated through a BioDigester, massively reducing the amount of waste water per guest which needs treating to 2 litres. Recycling is actively encouraged in all the cottages with areas for glass, paper, cardboard and paper, tetrapak, tins, plastic and food clearly laid out in the recycling area. All of this great work, plus much more has led to them having won over a dozen eco awards since opening over twelve years ago.

Cofton Holidays

A short walk from the Blue Flag beach of Dawlish Warren and Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve is Cofton Holidays, offering guests caravan, luxury lodge and camping holidays whilst still being sustainable. Heating throughout the park is generated from their biomass boiler which has reduced CO2 output by 750 tonnes. If you want to see for yourself how much electricity is generated from the solar panels on the pool hall roof check out the digital sign in the café. In the Swan Pub Vegware is used for eat-in and take-away food; the compostable packing is low carbon, made from recycled materials and biodegrades in as little as two weeks. And at Cofton Holidays they not only look after human guests, they have a Bug and Bee Hotel too, with nectar rich plants and wildlife friendly hedges.     


At the forefront of the sustainable food movement, cafe-ODE in Shaldon is guided by their sustainable principles in every aspect of what they do. When sourcing produce they ensure they buy locally and seasonally to reduce the impact of importing from abroad and only buy from farmers who are committed to high environmental stewardship. Waste is managed effectively in order to reduce, reuse and recycle wherever possible and there is an emphasis on water saving, improving energy efficiency and ensuring cleaning products, furnishings and workplace resources are sourced sustainably.

Ben’s Wine & Tapas

With several farm shops with cafés throughout South Devon as well as Ben’s Wine & Tapas in Totnes, there are many opportunities to visit this sustainable business whilst visiting the region. As a business they are always looking for ways to reduce the use of single use plastics, paper bags are available for customers to buy their loose fruit and veg and all their coffee cups, deli pots and straws are from Vegware. Gravity fed dispensers are available in some of the shops so customers can buy rice, pulses, cereals and nuts in pots brought from home. The shops also sell beeswax food wraps; organic cotton and beeswax wraps are a great alternative to plastic food wrapping. Milk is sold in glass bottles, which can be returned and reused and meat from the butchers can be wrapped in paper or sold in clean containers you bring with you. It’s not just food and wrapping where Ben’s is helping you to be sustainable either, solid shampoo bars, bamboo toothbrushes and plastic free cotton buds can be found in some of their stores as well.    

The Donkey Sanctuary

Near the beautiful coast town of Sidmouth, surrounded by the lush rolling hills of the East Devon AONB you’ll find The Donkey Sanctuary. The sanctuary is home to hundreds of rescued and re-homed donkeys, and is committed to increasing the welfare standards living conditions for donkeys worldwide. As a charity with animals at its hearts it’s not surprising that they have a strong commitment to sustainability and the environment. All their new fleet of vans are electric and they offer two free electric car charging stations for visitors. This year, 6 new wild flower beds have been planted with nectar rich flowers to encourage biodiversity. Willow from the reed beds is used to make balls providing enrichment for the donkeys and any broken plastic donkey collars are recycled into new products. The Kitchen restaurant sources all its produce from within the South West; vegan and vegetarian options are prominent and varied and all meat dishes are responsibly sourced from producers with high standards of farming and welfare. The gift shop sells Fairtrade, ethically-sourced and locally made products and plastic bags have also been eliminated.

Pennywell Farm

For a great family friendly day out at a wonderful award winning sustainable attraction, head to Pennywell Farm in Buckfastleigh. On the edge of Dartmoor National Park, this family run farm not only lets you get up close to the animals but is doing its bit to protect the environment. The farm is completely self sufficient when it comes to power thanks to 194 solar panels and an impressive solar tracker. Water from the sites car parks are filtered through a reed bed system and used to feed the farms ponds and throughout the site you’ll find lots of useful tips on helping the environment back home including how to build a Bee Hotel or a DIY Compost Bin.      

River Dart Country Park

Another great South Devon attraction which is leading the way in sustainable tourism is River Dart Country Park. On the banks of the River Dart to the south of Dartmoor National Park, River Dart Country Park offers a fun filled day out as well as camping. The parks heating is generated from a 133kWh woodchip biomass boiler whist 8 months of the year the park is completely self sufficient when it comes to electricity thanks to its hydro-electric generator. The unique hydro-dynamic screw has also reduced the sites consumption in the busy summer months. There are recycling points throughout the park to help with the ‘Zero waste to Landfill’ policy and all the cleaning products used are environmentally friendly and bio-degradable.

Ladram Bay

Ladram Bay is a family owned holiday park on the Jurassic Coast who have recently launched a challenge to retrieve one ton of waste that gets washed up on its private beach. Guests are encouraged to help the parks team of litter pickers and the progress can be tracked by a rising column of sand on a special display board near the beach. The parks green policy is also committed to reducing waste and energy consumption, repairing rather than replacing where appropriate and planting trees, shrubs and hedges to sustain habitats for local wildlife.    

As well as taking advantage of the eco credentials of your holiday accommodation, restaurant or attraction there are many other ways you can help reduce your carbon footprint whilst enjoying a wonderful time away. Check out our blog posts, What is Sustainable Tourism? and Looking After South Devon, for lots of useful tips and handy hints.

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