We grow a lot of our own food and buy local and/or organic products for the guests and ourselves. Our goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible and to use as little electricity and unnecessary amenities as possible. We are interested in promoting eco-friendly tourism and will encourage guests to visit and use places and do activities that are beneficial to the local community and friendly to the environment.
We are quite isolated and therefore are not dependent on local amenities apart from mains electricity i.e. No mains water supply, no access to mains sewage and drains, no rubbish collection. Our water comes from an underground spring, all sewage and grey water is treated in our own ecological treatment plant. Eco-friendly products are used for cleaning washing etc.
Our policy is to take what we need from natural resources and return it back into the land without adding any harmful chemicals. Low electric usage appliances are used wherever possible and wood is the main source of heating. Because we have no rubbish collection we limit waste. All food leftovers go to the chickens or our compost heaps. Some paper is used for the lighting of fires. We recycle glass, tin, plastic, aluminium, cardboard and some paper as well as re-using metal, wood etc wherever we can. We collaborate with the local people in up-keeping the local forests and maintaining the local pathways and roads and also clearing the paths of snow in the winter. We buy hand made baskets and wood and as much food as we can from our neighbours many of whom are old retired people who are glad of the extra income.
We encourage people to visit local places and also try to source our food and products locally, as well as grow a lot of our own organic food. We do have a recycling programme with the village and left-overs are composted. During the re-construction and building work we used small local firms and local craftsmen. We also employed local people for general labouring work and still do! (We used to use volunteers the first year also but now employ local students on a fair wage for picking and other jobs.) We collaborate with the local people in up-keeping the local forests and maintaining the local pathways and roads and also clearing the paths of snow in the winter.
We buy hand made baskets and wood and as much food as we can from our neighbours many of whom are old retired people who are glad of the extra income. After our suggestions and consultations with our Mayor our village has successfully introduced more and easily accessible re-cycling facilities so therefore saving the village money on rubbish collection which can now be spent on other things. The local infants school use our land for their summer parties where the teachers build fires, cook food and introduce the kids to the local countryside and respect for it. (When we are more organised we would like the children to be able to come here more often and learn more about the animals, farm etc.) Guests are encouraged to use small local tourist businesses for bike and ski hire, as well as encouraged to go on local guided river canoe trips and explore the mountains on guided horse treks in conjunction with an environmentally friendly local horse farm.
Around our place are many walking routes and guests can accompany the village walkers club or use a local guide and also attend the village football matches and consume vast amounts of sausages and beer. There are numerous ski-lifts and centres near by, we will only be supporting an encouraging our guests to use the places which have an eco-friendly policy, do not use synthetic snow and are run by local people. Also we encourage cross-country skiing in areas with specially prepared tracks. (We are also able to use local farmland where there is no damage to the terrain.) Our guests are encouraged to use the local pub (a short walk or ski over the hill in winter) and restaurants nearby and to attend local cultural events.
All water passes through the household and is eventually returned back into the land clean and without chemicals. A well was dug that takes water directly from underground springs. All water used in the house comes from this source i.e. for washing, cleaning and drinking and some use on the land (watering of the vegetable garden is done with collected rain water also although most water goes into the land directly as there are no mains drains). Waste water and sewage is treated in a biological waste-water treatment unit that uses natural bacteria and air circulation to break down human waste, toilet paper and any chemicals that have entered the water supply. (Tests of the treatment unit in households that use non-eco friendly products for cleaning etc show a 90% clean level of waste water.) The excess water is then filtered, as an extra measure, through a sand, gravel and stone filter bed.
Although we put all water back into the land we encourage guests, and we ourselves try, to use as little water as possible. We have installed low-flush toilets and low-pressure showers. All detergents, household cleaning products, shower gels, shampoos etc are bio-degradable. We use locally made items where possible and/or Ecover products. Our general use soap and body creams are made locally using only natural ingredients.
We have six small electric eco-flex heaters, which use small amounts of electricity and are used only when needed in halls and bathrooms. We use energy saving low wattage light bulbs. Our pumps, pressure tanks and sewage system all use very low levels of electricity.
The house is heated primarily by wood burning stoves which are installed in the living rooms, bedrooms and kitchen. These are the most eco-friendly models available as they have special air systems which burn the smoke which cuts down on wood usage and burns any harmful gases which would be pumped into the atmosphere. Our wood comes from local forestry sources which have a re-planting programme and also from woods and forests nearby where trees have fallen down. Our cooking is done in and on the wood-burning oven and hot-plate (which heats the room at the same time) and also on a gas bottle fuelled cooking top.
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