You may have heard of the phrase “green washing”. This is where a company indicates that they are doing lots to help the environment and work in a green way, but in reality they are doing very little. I watched part of a programme on tv recently about a food manufacturer. They were printing on their packets that they were now fully recyclable. Whilst this may be true, there was only one company in the UK recycling that type of packaging, and it was difficult for the consumer to be able to drop off the packets at a local place for them to be recycled. It wasn’t possible to just put them in the correct bin or box for the local council to collect. Whilst it looked admirable that the manufacturer had developed a greener packaging alternative to unrecyclable materials, in reality, less than one percent of their wrappers were actually being recycled, meaning over 99% of them were going to landfill or becoming litter and potentially in the sea or affecting nature.
In contrast, we at The 25 have been accused of “green hushing” which is a phrase I’d not heard until recently. This means that we’re actually doing quite a lot to be green but not really shouting about it enough (hence this blog) to let our guests know a bit more about what we’re doing. To be fair to us, this information has been available for several years via our website. There is a link to our Environmental Policy both from the main menu and via a link at the bottom of every page.
We have been recognised by others in the industry for our efforts. As well as a Visit Devon award in 2019, and a TripAdvisor Green Leader award, I’ve completed a Small Business Sustainability Basics programme. We recently were accredited the “REST” award, which is a scheme run by Quality in Tourism. They are the company who were responsible during the pandemic for assessing which accommodation providers were “Safe, Clean and Legal” and now continue to do this to demonstrate high standards of working within the industry. We of course have this accreditation too, and were one of the first to be awarded with it at its inception. You may remember we were on national TV as a result (see our TV clips section on our website).
The same company also now run REST accreditation which stands for RESponsible Tourism and assesses how Responsibly, Ethically and Sustainably your business is operating. Their scoring is then split into Green, Silver and Gold standard – we achieved silver.
We want to be as “green” as we can as a company, and as individuals. We’re obviously aware of the issues the planet faces and how much more Governments could be doing to help people move towards the right path. Not only do we want to be good to the planet, but it makes sound business sense to do things like cut down on energy and water use and food wastage to help keep our costs down, particularly with the current Ukraine / Russia situation and rising prices.
There haven’t been any major projects here at The 25. We looked into solar panels but our roof configuration and the chimney shadows mean they would be less efficient than we’d like, and pay back would take so long they’d need replacing again. We’re also not suitable candidates for things like bore holes or pellet burners. However, we have made many smaller changes over the years and are happy that we’re doing lots of little things that can make a big difference.
It can be a difficult balancing act as we also offer a luxury product and don’t want to dumb down on what we offer. Sure, we could put limiters on the amount of water that comes out of our rain head showers but we’ve all been to smart hotels where the shower looks amazing only to find it’s a dribble when you turn it on. We could get rid of our amazing lights that so many guests comment on and go back to just one bulb on a wire so all our guests are practically living by candle light, but we pride ourselves on you actually being able to see to put your make up on or read a book, plus they’re part of our boutique look.
Instead, what sort of things are we doing? Well each of the bulbs we do have are low energy and use the latest technology. We often swap out the bulbs they come with and replace with lower energy ones. We offer a range of lighting so you don’t have to have the main light on, you may only want a lamp or two, or just the mood lighting. Or you can dim down the main lights. Some of our light fittings have been upcycled by me and many in the public areas are on timers and/or sensors.
Our taps do have pressure reducers as they don’t need to be as powerful as the showers, so they use less water. Many have a limited cold setting. Most people turn cold to maximum when cleaning their teeth but cold is cold, it won’t get colder the more you turn it so these restrict waste water. Our toilets are all modern with dual flush and smaller cisterns, so each flush uses less water. We replaced toilet pipes that were not a straight flow out as sometimes if they’re on awkward bends they need more than one flush.
We don’t like to throw anything away, which means wherever possible, something is sent for recycling, is reused in a different way (such as our upcycled furniture), or in the case of food, generally eaten by us! We work carefully not to over order food, and items we no longer need are often passed to other B&Bs who can make use of them. The rubbish we generate that can’t be recycled (yes we do fish out plastic bottles, cardboard and so on from your bedroom bins!) is disposed of carefully and our chosen commercial waste contractor sends nothing to landfill.
We work closely with local suppliers and like to support our community which in turn helps maintain all year round jobs and prosperity for all. The majority of our suppliers are local and those which are not are chosen partly due to their superior quality of product and partly due to their work ethics. For instance, our jams are made by a charity providing work for disabled adults and our bedding supplier works hard to be sustainable and their pillows are filled with recycled plastic bottles!
Via our social media and website we support other local businesses, and encourage our guests to visit them. We pay any supplier invoices within 48 hours and are involved with our local tourism company, helping promote the English Riviera to the world.
It can sometimes be frustrating when a guest isn’t quite as green thinking as us. At times we might find someone has the air conditioning on cool, but the radiators have not been turned down, so they are both working hard to fight against each other using double the energy. Sometimes a guest will want every single towel and flannel changing daily, using water, electricity and gas to wash and dry unnecessarily, not to mention the vehicle fuel to and from the laundry company’s facilities. We can only do our bit and encourage our guests where possible.
I could go on all day about what we do, but rather than just re-typing over one hundred ways we’re working responsibly, ethically and sustainably, why not have a read of our full Environmental Policy on the link below and find out why we’ve won awards for our green policies.
If you’re looking to come and stay, you can book at the best price via our website.
See you soon!