How to Run a Luxury B&B and still be Environmentally Friendly
Until recently I didn't think it was possible to run a luxury B&B and be environmentally friendly. To me being green meant grey sheets, hard towels and a shower that dripped cold water on you.
That was until I met a very savvy lady from the Green Tourism Business Scheme. Unlike many ardent environmentalists I have met she was upfront in admitting that you need to compromise. Be as green as you can be but also recognise that there are times when you need to use the tumble dryer.
Here are my top tips for being green whilst retaining the luxury.
1. Have An Environmental Policy
Publish your policy on your website and include it in your room folder. Explain to guests what steps you are taking to help the environment and encourage them to do the same.
The quality standards say you should changes sheets and towels every 4 days unless you have a policy - in which case it is every 7 days unless guests request a change.
2. Shop Locally
Visitors to an area love to sample local produce. Make friends with your butcher and your guests will relish eating real sausages and bacon from local pigs, rather than the watery stuff in packets from the supermarket.
3. Cutting Down On Laundry
Make sure you have enough sheets and towels so you only ever do a full shop. I have discovered Eco-Balls 3 balls that sit in your washing machine and clean your sheets without the need for detergent or fabric conditioner. I find they aren't as effective for really heavy staining but perfect for sheets and towels that have only been slept in for a few days. And because you don't use detergent you don't need a rinse cycle - so you're saving money on electricity, detergent and water!
4. Drying Your Towels
Of course the most environmentally friendly way to dry your laundry is outside on the line. If that's not possible you can now buy A energy rated tumble dryers. Pop in some tumble dryer balls and they reduce the drying time by 25% and also make your clothes softer.
5. Buy Recycled
You can buy recycled versions of pretty much everything these days. Loo paper, kitchen towels, pens, printer paper.
6. Re-use and Recycle
It's normally better to re-use things than to recycle. I re-use all my jam and honey jars. They go in the dishwasher and then are ready for my next marathon jam or marmalade making session. You can turn newspaper into briquettes for the fire or compostable flower pots. Shred newspaper or confidential documents and mix it into your compost heap. I use mine for chicken bedding, then compost that.
Where you can't re-use then recycle what you can - cardboard, glass, newspaper, plastic. Ask your guests to put aside recyclable items or provide them with a separate recycle bin.
7. Have A Wildlife Friendly Policy
This can be as simple as installing a bird feeder and supplying the guests with a bird identification book. Others ideas would be to install, bird, bat, hedgehog boxes. If you have the room then consider planting native hedging for birds to nest, feed and shelter in. Plant berry rich shrubs and trees for winter food. Don't be too tidy in the garden - leave piles of logs and some areas unweeded to provide shelter for hedgehogs, frogs, toads and lizards. Consider installing a wildlife pond - even something very small will attract frogs - though don't put any fish in it. Start a nature diary that guest can contribute to.
8. Encourage More Green Trips
My experience of B&B guests is that they sometimes quite like to be told what to do! So put together some itenaries to help them choose a greener option for a least one day trip during their stay. If you're lucky enough to have public transport nearby put together some day trips using this including times, places to eat etc. Consider hiring out bicycles or setting up a deal with a local cycle hire company and provide your guests with cycle routes, places to eat on route or a packed lunch. Keep local maps handy and highlight walks than can be done from the B&B.
9. Install Energy Efficient Lightbulbs
When you need to replace light bulbs do so with energy efficient ones. There are some great deals on the internet these days - these bulbs are getting smaller and smaller and don't cost as much as they used to. You will also save money in reduced electricity bills.
10. Reduce Food Wastage
This can be a real problem with B&Bs as you need to buy food in just in case guests want to eat it. I do a breakfast menu for guests to order the night before so I only cook what they actually ask for. I freeze sausages individually on a tray then put them in a freezer bag taking one out when I need it. if you find yourself with lots of leftover halves of bread, then half a loaf when you buy it and put it in the freezer - bread freezes and defrosts really well.
Ask your butcher to vacuum pack your bacon - this will last for about 4 weeks. I use mushrooms and tomatoes that I haven't used for guest breakfasts in stews. If you supply orange juice then by supplying it freshly squeezed you need only squeeze what you need! And oranges keep for several weeks if you put them in the fridge. Use up overripe bananas in smoothies or baked banana muffins.