Happy Earth Day everyone.
I wish that Earth Day was not just a day but something that lasts all year. Imagine if everyone was mindful about recycling, saving electricity and conserving water and gasoline. The world would be a better place for our children and grandchildren in the future.
One thing that everyone could do that requires very little effort and expense is to start using reusable grocery bags when they shop. Every store now sells them but I seldom see anyone using them. America seems to be addicted to those little plastic bags that choke the landfills, pollute the roadways and require fossil fuels/oil in the manufacturing process.
If you do not currently use reusable bags I challenge you to start. Just purchase a few and place them in your car. When you arrive at the grocery store take them inside with you. When you are finished shopping and head to the check out have them ready for the bagger. When asked “paper or plastic” say “neither, I brought my own”.
When I go grocery shopping with my wife it seems that she is the only one using reusable bags. It’s really sad in my opinion. One day those little plastic disposal bags may be illegal. I certainly hope so.
Do you part to help the Earth. Start using reusable bags today.
With the droughts of last year a distant memory and the frequent recent rains we have had many are not probably thinking about water conservation. Last year rain barrels were popular and many found they were hard to find due to market demand by people wanting to save rainwater for garden irrigation.
We added a metal roof onto the inn to catch our rainwater but have not added the required gutters and rainwater chains. Rain barrels are also part of the project.
In the United Kingdom rainwater barrels are called water butts. They come in various shapes and sizes like the rain barrels you can purchase in the USA.
One company has made a rain barrel or water butt in the shape of a persons bottom complete with butt crack and a tattoo above the thong line. They even come in several skin tone colors.
Unfortunately they cannot be purchased in the US. Can you imagine some neighborhoods trying to deny the use of these water butts in the deed restrictions?
What’s wrong with looking at a good butt? And a butt that saves precious water?
For more information visit water butt.
At Cedar House Inn we always try to hang out our bed and bath linens on the clothesline outdoors weather permitting.
We bought a vinyl clothespin bag a year ago that became very tattered quickly. We tried to extend it’s life with duct tape. The sunshine apparently caused the premature death.
We have been looking for an replacement and saw some on the internet made from organic cotton. They were expensive.
We also recycle everything that can be recycled when guests check out of the inn. One item my wife saved was a hemp Earth Shoe bag that a guest had left last year.
My wife surprised me and made a really neat hemp clothespin bag that we used today.
All she did was cut out an opening for the pins and added a plastic coat hanger for hanging.
Coat hanger and bag now having another life with a different use.
At Cedar House Inn we receive a number of guests living in the city who are questioning their current state of living. They commute great distances to jobs that do not provide fulfillment or security. We certainly came from a similar situation in the past. We tell some our of story at About the Hosts on our inn web site.
One thing that we learned early on in operating a five unit bed and breakfast in the country was that we needed to have multiple streams of income. The inn provides the majority of our living expenses most of the year. The one exception is during the winter months when the area is not appealing to tourists. Times can get lean and we have created other income streams to help us survive.
My wife has a part time tutoring position at nearby Brenau University in Gainesville. She tutors international students two days a week in writing. It is a great release for her to get away from me and the inn as well as making a little extra money. She also tutors children locally and receives leads through her tutoring web site Dahlonega Tutor.
I am the environmentalist in the family and sell eco friendly products on our web site Eco Store. I sell composting toilets and composters primarily but am always looking for additional products. Guests frequently ask about starting businesses using their skills or interests and I created another web site, web income that covers the topic.
Whatever income sources we have discovered fit into our right livelihood philosophy. Our inn is eco friendly because that fits our passion. Our side income opportunities also relate to who we are.
I was reading our Green Hotels newsletter yesterday and there was a short article on water footprints. We have all heard about carbon footprint but water footprint was new to me. Water is a resource that should be conserved. Some say water will be the next oil in terms of scarcity of fresh water supplies.
At Cedar House Inn we value water and try to conserve it as much as we can. Low flow shower heads and sink aerators have been installed in all bathrooms. Guest reminder stickers are in the bathroom asking guests not to waste water. We use low flush toilets throughout the property and have composting toilets that require no water. Guest bed and bath linens are not changed daily (unless requested) to save laundry water. An Energy Star washing machine and dishwasher have also been installed that use less water compared to conventional appliances.
In our owner’s area we have a bucket to catch the cold water coming out of the bathtub faucet prior to the warm shower water arriving. We use it to flush the toilet or water the plants. We also use the “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” philosophy in our bathroom. I save my “liquid gold” for reuse as nitrogen fertilizer (see earlier blog post on this topic). We turn off the sink when we brush our teeth is another water saving tip.
A few months ago we installed a new metal roof to capture rainwater more efficiently. We have not installed rain gutters and barrels yet. Our yard is a freedom lawn that requires no water. Native drought tolerant plants have been planted as well.
In terms of shopping the Green Hotels article mentioned the water footprint of products we purchase. For example 20 gallons of water to make a pint of beer, 132 gallons for 2 liters of soda, 500 gallons to make a pair of Levi’s stonewashed jeans. Even some foods have a higher water footprint depending on where they are grown and the type of plant.
I am not suggesting we give up beer or quit wearing bluejeans. I do think we all need to be more mindful of our water usage and footprint.
The Green Hotels newsletter referenced an article on this topic published in Currents, The Wall Street Journal, 2/17/2009 by Alexandra Alter.
We had a great weekend with a full house for Saturday night. With check out Sunday morning we normally start the process of stripping the beds and doing the laundry. Yesterday was a cold and blustery day so we waited until today to start the laundry.
Our main reason for wanting to do the laundry on a sunny day like today is so that we can use our solar dryer instead of the electric clothes dryer.
Our washing machine is a Fisher Paykel EcoSmart machine that uses little water and has a high speed spin cycle. The high spin gives us linens that our not totally wet but damp. This is perfect for our solar clothes dryer.
Our solar dryer, aka clothes line, not only saves energy since we are using the sun but also acts like a bleaching mechanism since the sun bleaches out the whites. Things hanging on the line also smell good.
Unfortunately many municipalities and neighborhoods do not allow for backyard clothes lines. They think they are ugly which I disagree. I like the money we are saving and the eco-friendly aspect of using the sun.
Cedar House Inn has found a new way to recycle wine bottles. We have created bottle trees and shrubs. In the past we took our glass wine bottles to have them recycled. On television we noticed that a PBS show had a feature on making bottle trees.
Apparently bottle trees originated in Africa. People thought that evil spirits would fly up the neck of the bottle and become trapped.
We made ours out of fence posts you can purchase at the local lumber yard. We used long nails or gutter spikes to hang the bottles on the trunk.
The great thing about the trees is that the never need watering and are always colorful. The are very pretty in the sunlight and sometimes make a slight ringing sound on windy days.
What a great recycling idea that adds a little art and color to the yard.