Our approach is to abide by the “3 R’s”: reduce, re-use and recycle. At Scot Mountain Holidays we have added a fourth stage: sustainable resourcefulness.
Sot Mountain Holiday has been self-sufficient in herbs, kindling and compost since 1998. There is virtually zero bound energy in these resources. In our case, there is no packaging or travel energy expended. In addition, we replace all broken or worn out lighting and appliances with energy efficient versions.
We employ local instructors and guides and operate year round in the Highlands to help sustain the local economy and utilize local resources and expertise.
During all Scot Mountain Holiday courses and tours, we practice a ‘nothing left on the hill’ policy. This includes any organic matter such as banana skins, orange peel, uneaten food, etc. While these items are biodegradable it is a slow process in the mountains. And apart from being unsightly, it adapts scavengers like seagulls and crows to an unnatural environment.
The environmental policy of Scot Mountain Holidays derives from Andy and Rebecca’s life long interest in the natural world. We are always looking for new ways to reduce our demands on the environment. We aspire to biodiversity to see the natural world flourish, and to minimize the high demands humans put on the environment.
In today’s world we are so dependent on oil it is virtually impossible to be 100% environmentally responsible. Be suspicious of anyone who claims they are! However this isn’t to say being responsibility isn’t worth striving for – in fact, we would say it is vital, which is why we provide as environmentally sustainable holidays and courses as we can in Scotland.
At Scot Mountain Holidays we offer a £15 discount to all guests on the price of their holiday or course when they use public transportation to reach us, with free pickups and drop offs from our nearest train and bus stations in Aviemore or the airport in Inverness.
This policy is in direct response to growing Climate Change concerns and reports of methane, a severe greenhouse gas, being released from Siberia’s melting permafrost during the summer.
We compost all kitchen vegetable and non-woody garden waste, including all weeds, ‘soft’ and lawn cuttings. We have over 4 cubic meters of composting capacity. The size and construction of our compost allows adequate heat build up to result in the destruction of weeds and their seeds, reducing the need for organic herbicides.
We use our compost to fertilize our vegetable beds, returning the nutrients to the ground. We do not use horticultural peat products, as the use of peat by British gardeners has resulted in the destruction of a number of bog habitats in Ireland.
All woody garden waste resulting from tree and shrub pruning are cut, dried and used as kindling on our wood burning stove and open fire to avoid purchasing kindling that has far more in-bound energy, or using firelighters which have their origins in fossil fuels.
We source as much local produce as we can, not least of all from our fantastic local butcher, ‘Mr. Mustard’. We grow our own herbs, fruit and vegetables in our garden for home grown and locally produced meals.
Native trees are encouraged to grow in our garden. Non-native trees which have been over planted are in the process of being thinned to create more space and light for the native species and thus organic growing. Inappropriately placed self-sown native saplings are transplanted to more appropriate locations.
We also minimise the use of water in the garden, and reduce the over capacity in our toilet cisterns to further conserve.
For fuel we burn cut-offs, a saw mill waste product, in our wood burning stove and open fire. The wood is cut and chopped mainly by hand to minimise the use of power tools. Over the forthcoming year we plan to increase are use of wood as a fuel to reduce our demand on less environmentally friendly types of energy.
Why is wood good? Well, as long as it’s grown sustainably, it doesn’t introduce more carbon into the natural carbon cycle as fossil fuels do.
Wood Ash is used on the garden as a potassium fertilizer. We first riddled the ash to separate charcoal and reuse it in the fire.
Newspaper and cardboards are reused for drying boots and lighting fires, office paper is printed on both sides in internal company use, and unk mail, waist office paper and excess newspaper, steel and aluminium cans are all placed in our black box and collected by the Highland Council for recycling.
Glass is recycled via the local bottle banks, though re-use is far more preferable when we can to avoid the huge amount of energy necessary to melt the old bottles down.
Clothes and footwear are also sent for reuse, while replaced computer equipment is sent to a charities for less developed countries. Our used printer cartridges are recycled and all unwanted furniture is collected by a local charity for the homeless.
Carrier bags are re-used for groceries to reduce our plastic demand, and are also used as bin liners. We do not use large black dustbin liners, preferring to regularly wash the dustbin out.
We have notices in our accommodation encouraging guests to likewise recycle glass, papers, aluminums and clothing when they can.