The steps we have taken so far are:
1) The 3 R's - Recycle, Reuse and Reduce
Outside our cottages we segregate the waste into non-recycling, recycling, glass and compost bins for vegetable waste.
To make this as easy as possible for our guests we provide:
· 2 pedal bins for non-recycling and recycling waste
· bio-caddy for vegetable peelings, egg shells, tea bags etc ·
· bio-degradable bin liners
· compostable liners for the bio caddy.
To reduce use of plastic bags we provide:
· reusable shopping bag
· greaseproof paper.
2) Ethical business practise through use of green suppliers, fair-trade and free-range
· We buy eco cleaning products in bulk and refill containers to cut down on waste.
· Use eco washing powder and include 2 free washing tablets in cottages, with the option to purchase extra.
· Instead of hand wash we provide handmade Irish soap.
· Support local economy by providing a local shopping service promoting West Cork artisan products, free-range and free-trade.
3) Energy and Water efficiency
We have replaced all light bulbs with eco bulbs in the property and provide an eco kettle.
4) Minimise use of car
· Provide details of bicycle and walking routes from Ballymacrown Homestead.
· Offer a pick up service from local transport for visitors wanting a car free vacation.
5) Improving habitats and biodiversity – respect for nature
· We have allowed an area of our lawn, previously ancient pasture, to grow naturally into a wildflower meadow.
· Provided bird feeders
· Excavated a dew pond, hidden by undergrowth, for our ducks.
· Planted an orchard in an area of the garden that was previously overrun by nettles and brambles. The nettles were cleared by cutting them regularly over a two year period, without the use of herbicides. Nettles are still allowed in some corners as they are a great habitat for butterflies.
· Garden organically and pull weeds by hand from the drive rather than use herbicides.
· Use natural soil improver's and plant feeds e.g. garden compost, hay from the ducks bedding and sea weed.
· Harvest seeds
Ongoing Projects –
· Development of a hedgerow to divide the orchard from the formal garden.
· Establish marginal plants around the pond and a reed bed as cover for birds, amphibians and insects.
· Plant a native copse to provide bio-fuel for the future.
· Nut tree grove
· Buying in bulk
· Preserving and drying
· Recycling finding new uses for things.
· Cooking and baking from scratch
· Wood cooking
· Grow vegetables and fruit
· Herb beds
· Keeping ducks and chickens for eggs and amusement!
· Utilise tree prunings as kindling and logs.