AT THE HEART OF OUR PROJECT
Our Green Policy
This is at the very heart of this project. All our choices were made with sustainability, impact to the landscape and future use in mind. We will never think of absolutely everything, and recognise that is an evolving subject. We would be very happy if you can think of things that we could be doing and are currently not.
The emphasis is on sharing what we have learnt with others, and learning ourselves along the way. It shouldn’t be difficult to make sustainable choices, but it can be confusing, conflicting, expensive at times, and maybe more time consuming. It is possible to make small changes, that eventually have a big impact, and that is what we are about – hopefully, encouraging and demonstrating, and showing what can be done.
The building captures carbon in its wooden structure. It is insulated with wool – all the multi coloured left over bits from other industries and applications. It came from Devon (the only place in the country to supply), but in bulk lorry loads of 70kg bales. The entire building is wrapped in a duvet of wool – walls, floors and roof. The roof also has earth on top as further insulation, and windows, skylights and sun tubes give every room plenty of natural light. It was clad in locally sourced and milled larch, and much of the interior wood was sourced from within Cornwall. We have chosen to be completely off grid, using solar for electricity and heating, backed up by a log gasification burner using our own wood. Water is supplied via a borehole, and the combined message is to be more aware of how much water we use, how we actually get it to the taps/showers, and the cost/effort of doing that. Our lights are just 5 Watts each, and are dimmable, and every bedroom has separate, low voltage reading lights. The main entrance and corridor also have motion sensor, timed lighting to ensure lights are not left on unnecessarily. Windows and doors are triple glazed, and made of wood and aluminium as we believe it will be easier to recycle if necessary.
During the build all of the old barn was taken apart carefully, separated, and stored for later or reused in the project. You will see some of wood used as decoration, and some outside at the back of the gabions. Many of the blocks were cleaned and reused to make the wall under the edges of the building. Any that couldn’t be used were put at the back of the gabions. Sawdust was collected and used on the ground as a slug deterrent and composting agent. Cardboard was sorted and either recycled, it used at the bottom of our permaculture raised beds, and around trees as a weed suppressant. Plastic was also recycled – some polystyrene was kept to insulate pots and greenhouse in the winter, so very little ended up as rubbish. Even the empty paint pots (Earthborn Clay Paint) were painted, holes drilled, and are now used as plant containers!
Where possible we have used metal, glass or wood as we know it has a better chance of being repurposed or recycled. We have sourced recycled or charity shop glasses, and charity shop finds for the kitchens as well as some new things too. Our bathrooms have soap by the Clovelly Handmade Soap Company, using traceable and organic ingredients in the majority of their products. They are also a small, independent business. We are also trialing shampoo bars to avoid excess plastic packaging, and our hand soap uses pure essential oils blended by us to compliment the soap. Our rugs and blankets are by Weaver Green, a Devon based company using recycled plastic bottles to spin into the yarn they use. Our bed linen is organic and fair trade, and we have tried to up-cycle and recycle fabrics and furniture wherever possible. Our kitchens were from a well known supplier, as cost was an issue: this company have a good environmental policy, and we chose wood where possible as we can repair it. All appliances were chosen with their energy rating being at the forefront after cost. We have chosen gas cookers, as we are not sure at the moment whether we could generate enough for electric cookers, and didn’t want to be left high and dry! As we learn more, or get more storage, that may change.
All of cleaning products are either the Ecover brand, or home made recipes using vinegar, lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda. We have a septic tank, and so we urge you to please only put paper down the loo – absolutely no wipes please (even if they claim to be biodegradable!). We supply biodegradable bags for you to put anything else in, which will be disposed of sensibly and carefully. From 2021 we have invested in a steam cleaner, which is powerful at dealing with dirt and bacteria, and also uses just a litre of water for approx 2 rooms!
We are happy to take care of recycling if you would be kind enough to put it in the separate bin ( there is one in each room) We have a composting caddy for apple cores, tea bags etc, and a separate bin for anything else (also one in each room). Hpwever, we have become increasingly concerned about the amount of single use plastic bottles that are being left. There is really no need as our borehole water is thoroughly tested once a year, filtered, and is better tasting than the water that comes out of our own home taps! So we are politely asking guests a) not to bring them, or at least refill them and keep using, b) they can hand them in for a complimentary 500ml metal water bottle (more are available to buy) and c) if all that fails, to take them home with them and recycle. This bit may not work, (we worry about bottles going into rubbish bins) but we are being overwhelmed by the amounts that are being left, and there is really no need.
We now drive an electric vehicle which we either charge with solar electricity or 7Kw charger at our home or using our new ‘on grid’ 7Kw chargers in our car park. These chargers are available to our guests at a cost that is less than we pay for it, as we want to encourage journeys by electric cars; they are also available to other guests staying in the village by prior arrangement and as long as our guests don’t need them.
We have also swapped our petrol 4 x truck for an electric model, and almost all of our tools are now battery, which can be charged in daylight hours.
Our beautiful camping pod is also offgrid, with a tiny powerpack that supplies 12v and device charging. This can be charged at the building in daylight hours or guests can attach a solar panel when there is sun. There are also battery lanterns (rechargeable batteries) and we rely on these combinations in the winter when less solar is produced.
We have adopted a ‘no dig’ and permaculture regime for our fruit and veg production, utilising cardboard to supress weeds – not only from our own purchases, but also from our local agricultural merchants who prepare bales for recycling – and any villagers who have had large cardboard deliveries!
Part of making any new raised veg beds also use ‘Hugel Kultur’ – using logs, branches covered in turf and compoatable material and then compost. This uses excess prunings/weedings which breaks down providing heat, nutrient and water storage.
We also have homemade charcoal for use as well as our own firewood. David’s new project was to produce charcoal on site with our left over prunings (see blog for more details). We use this for cooking in our firebowl and pizza oven, and we have plenty of seasoned wood for keeping warm outside or inside!
We have also switched out banking to Triodos Bank, one of the most ethical banking companies around at present. We also use Nationwide, the second best ethical bank!
OUR SUSTAINABLE APPROACH