Guest Blog: Why running a sustainable business has never been more important
Here at Fal River we are always striving to reduce our negative environmental impact and that's why this year we launched the UK’s first electric-hybrid ferry. We caught up with businesswoman and environmentalist Pat Smith a.k.a Action Nan, and found out all about the inspiring steps towards sustainability she has taken at Bosinver Farm Cottages.
At Bosinver Farm Cottages we have always understood the fragile balance of our precious environment and the demands we all make on it. Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do – it drives everything from the way we manage our land to how we run our business, how we construct and manage our buildings to the suppliers we use – over the years we are proud to have won many awards for our achievements.
The decisions we make in line with our environmental ethos often cost us more money, but we try to choose to follow a path which we are comfortable with and offers more rewards than just profitability… Our aim is to give all our guests a magical, memorable holiday while minimising the impact we all have on the environment.
Here are just some of the ways we are committed to ‘doing our bit’:
We have 30 acres of diverse habitat which we manage organically without pesticides or sprays – from ancient hedgerows and untended field margins to our wildflower meadows, wetland, woodland, and our own private lake. We pride ourselves on our Forest school and nature trails which encourage children to get outside, experience, value and look after nature. Farmer Dave’s Show and Tell at pony rides is always magical where he shares his passion and knowledge of the natural world.
We have already put up barn owl and bat boxes and created bug hotels to help provide homes for wildlife but we have plans to put up more bee, bat and bird boxes and plant more wild flowers and pollinator friendly plants to encourage the proliferation of insects. We also plan to plant more native trees which sequester carbon and provide homes for wildlife and to continue to work with Prickles and Paws hedgehog rescue centre to rehome hedgehogs at Bosinver.
Our eco-house, energy sources and waste management
We built our zero carbon eco-house Lowen in 2011. Lowen was made from reclaimed timber and lime rendered straw bales and is carbon neutral and energy self-sufficient. Using PV panels and a ground source heat pump to provide electricity, heating and hot water to the house, Lowen generates enough electricity to power itself plus two other cottages and send energy back to the grid.
The indoor swimming pool is heated by solar energy and renewable technologies and we have a PV solar array to generate 50% of our electricity needs from renewables. Our energy supplier is a company that has a green tariff also supporting energy from renewables, not derived from carbon emitting fossil fuels. We have several EV chargers on site to encourage guests with electric cars and we use LED light bulbs and energy efficient appliances. The cottages are highly insulated to ensure minimal heat loss and built using local craftsmen and materials wherever possible. We also try to encourage guests to recycle as much as possible by making it easy to do and using Devon Cornwall Waste (DCW) who have a zero to landfill policy.
Our community and suppliers
Wherever possible, we try to support other talented local producers and businesses. Whether it’s an amazing light fitting in a cottage living room or the frozen meal ordered for arrival, guests can be sure we’ve tried to source the very best local products from local companies, artists and craftspeople or ethical suppliers . For example, the cubicles in our swimming pool changing rooms were made from recycled plastic detergent and fabric conditioner bottles.
We are proud to be Ambassadors for the Cornwall Sustainable Tourism Forum (COaST) and Business Members and supporters of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Guests are offered the opportunity to make a voluntary £2 donation to the Trust when guests book their holiday. Over 30% of our guests have taken up this initiative and we are proud to say that we are on track to pass on almost a thousand pounds to them at the end of the year to help local wildlife.
Going that extra mile…
Pat is on the board of Plastic Free St Austell and co-founded Final Straw Cornwall to sign up hundreds of hospitality businesses to no longer serve plastic straws and raise awareness of single use plastics. She is involved in many environmental community groups and is an active beach cleaner and often invites guests to join in with her on one of her beach clean days.
In addition to recycling, we love to encourage guests to think about their own environmental footprint – we have already heard from guests that as a result of their stay at Bosinver they have made changes including composting, using greener products and less chemicals, not wasting electricity or using tumble dryers, growing their own vegetables and herbs, wasting less food, supporting local suppliers and growers, considering travelling in future to Bosinver by public transport (if families arrive by train we will refund their taxi journey to and from the station), installing solar heating and even building their own eco-house!
If all our guests change just one habit or behaviour to consider the environment, over time this would have a big impact. Can you encourage your guests to do the same?