Environmental Policy





At Decoy Country Cottages we aim to provide our guests with an amazing holiday experience while at the same time minimizing the effect of that holiday on the environment. While our guests are with us we will try to gently educate them on our endeavours to encourage compliance 

At Decoy Country Cottages we believe that sustainable tourism is tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts while addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities (UNWTO Def)

We are not perfect yet but are committed to continuously improving our sustainability at Decoy Country Cottages. We know that the journey we are on is one of continuous assessment and adoption of new best practices as we become aware of them and new technology.

Energy 

5 years ago we installed a 4 kw PV system and  20 solar thermal collectors. These have helped us reduce the amount of oil and electricity we use for space and hot water heating. We use as much of the electricity we generate as possible and sell any excess back to the grid.

In the future we may add a small wind turbine to give us renewable  energy in the winter when the solar panels are not performing. Our energy supplier is Airtricity and they commit to supplying 100% renewable energy to the grid. 

We commit to measuring our energy consumption quarterly with the aim of reducing our consumption by 5% over the next 12 months. We have already done the following:

  • Replaced all lightbulbs with LED's
  • We have placed notices at house exit points asking guests to turn lights off when they are leave the room/house.
  • We ask guests to turn appliances off at the wall when not in use and to close windows when the heating is on
  • We supply sustainable biomass heating logs in our houses free of charge and ask guests to light the stove for extra heat rather than turning up the thermostat in the house
  • Our boiler is a highly efficient condensing boiler
  • We also ask guests to use a clothes horse for drying clothes rather than the tumble dryer

  

Water

Our holiday homes are on a well system and this allows us to monitor if there are any leaks on the property. We are able to do this as the treatment plant has a meter on it that shows how much water is passing through the system. If there is nobody in the houses and there is no water passing through the system, then there are no leaks. We can also measure how much water has passed through the system and therefore how much has been used every 31 days. We commit to recording this monthly. 

We ask guests to help us to minimise water consumption in the following ways:

  • Placing notices in the kitchens and bathrooms asking guests not to leave taps running and to take a shower instead of baths.
  • We ask guests to only use appliances when full and to choose the Eco programme where possible.
  • We have placed filled bottles in toilet cysterns and low flow shower heads in the shower rooms.
  • We have a waste water treatment plant and use only eco friendly cleaning products and supply organic shampoo and hand soap in all bathrooms.

Waste

As our cottages are all self catering, the majority of the waste produced as a business is produced by our guests and this is very difficult to control or influence but we are taking the following measures ourselves and trying to modify our guests behaviour:

  • We inform our guests in advance of their arrival that we have treated and purified drinking water on site and therefore there is no need to buy bottled water.
  • The new plastic bottle and can recycling scheme might further help in the reduction of waste and we inform guests of the scheme and provide a separate receptacle for bottles and cans that have the relevant logo
  • We inform our guests that we provide toiletries and therefore no need to buy or bring
  • We provide a list of all the sundry food items we provide in the house so guests do not purchase more and therefore waste food
  • We provide clearly labelled waste segregation bins in each house for food, glass, recycling and general waste and outdoor bins are clearly labelled.
  • To monitor the amount of waste we produce, we analyse our bills and keep a record of the volume of waste collected on a monthly basis. We hope over time to reduce the volume of waste 
  •  We have removed all single use plastics from our day to day operations
  • We will evaluate all purchases and commit to bulk purchasing from ethical suppliers who use recyclable packaging
  • We will replace old coffee machines that use pods over time and replace with French Presses that use ground coffee
  • We use refillable bottles for washing up liquid, laundry detergent, fabric conditioner, hand wash, shampoo, body wash and conditioner
  • We use biodegradable plant base products for cleaning

Ethical Purchasing

Ethical purchasing is at the core of the way we run Decoy Country Cottages and is integral to our sustainability policy and we commit to the following: 

  • Repair rather than replace broken items where at all possible
  • Purchase food items from local suppliers and where this is not possible (eg tea, coffee and sugar) then to only buy fair-trade or rainforest alliance certified goods
  • Purchase products that come with reduced and/or reusable packaging
  • Purchase toiletries that are made from organic ingredients and manufactured locally and packaged in refillable bottles 
  • Purchase plant based cleaning products that do not harm my staff or the environment 
  • When purchasing items, we commit that cost alone will not be the deciding factor but our preference is to buy from companies that are run in a sustainable way with similar values to or own
  • We have already removed all single use plastics form our business

Carbon Offsetting

We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible and to offsetting the remainder with a trusted partner in the next 12 months. To reduce the carbon we are responsible for we commit to the following actions:

  • We measure the amount of electricity and heating oil that we use quarterly and aim to reduce this by 5% over the next 12 months.
  • We will take measures to reduce the amount of oil we use for heating and hot water such as changing to alternative technology and/or adding a wind turbine
  • We have changed the stove fuel that we provide in the cottages to sustainable logs that are made from biomass waste.
  • We commit to buying our electricity from a renewable source
  • We will reduce the temperature in unoccupied houses
  • We offer our guests carbon offsetting when placing their booking through a third party provider
  • We have fitted low flow shower heads in bathrooms which means that we use less hot water
  • We have installed one EV charging point and commit to installing a further 2 in the next 2 months

Marketing

We commit to publishing our sustainability and ethical purchasing policies on our website and to continually reviewing them. We do not engage in any paper marketing and commit to not doing so in the future. We commit to using our guests's data in an ethical and respectful manner. We aim to move to a more paperless office system in the next 12 months and in this way avoid printing where possible. When we do need to print, we will do so using FSC approved recycled paper. We will not promise anything that we cannot deliver to our guests 

Supporting the local community

We commit to supporting our local community by partnering with local business to support jobs and keep guests in our local area to minimise the miles they travel on their holiday. We commit to supporting local suppliers when purchasing food products We recycle left clothing to local charities to benefit the local community We welcome guests with accessibility issues We are an equal opportunities employer. 

In addition to the above measures, we separate used bottles and cans that are part of the new bottle deposit scheme returning them for recycling in return for money and this money is donated to our local Gaelic football club to support juvenile players 

Local Biodiversity

  • We commit to conserve to local biodiversity by the following actions: Planting indigenous hedging and wildflowers where possible
  • Mowing less frequently and reducing the area that is mowed
  • Minimising the use of pesticides and using those that have minimal impact on the environment
  • We have joined the local tidy towns group that works in our local area keep the roads clear of litter and also maintains a local green area with planting to support the local wildlife and provides an area where locals and visitors alike can sit to enjoy the environment.

Sustainable Tourism Network

Here at Decoy Country Cottages, we are proud members of the Sustainable Tourism Network. We are delighted to have achieved the Sustainable Tourism Network Foundation Award! We have committed to a greener future by appointing a sustainability co-ordinator for the cottages and our environmental policy is readily available on our website.

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