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.
Many guests that stay in one of our yurts find the composting toilets interesting. We decided to have them in the yurts since we did not have water or septic to the area. We also wanted to give yurt guests the convenience of not having to go to the bathhouse in the middle of the night to use the toilet.
The composting toilets are made by Sun Mar in Canada. They require no water, septic and have no odor. A fan in the toilet pulls air through the toilet and is vented to the outside. The air also helps dry out the liquids. Liquids also go to the bottom of the toilet in an enclosed drying area with a heater.
Solids and toilet paper stay in the bio drum chamber and compost over time. Bacteria is added to the unit occasionally to help eat the toilet paper. When the bio drum starts to fill we remove some of the contents into the finishing drawer where the substance finishes composting.
The finished compost is placed in our flower gardens and around the trees.
For more information visit composting toilets.
This is one of the ways Cedar House Inn and Yurts is using composting.
There is a new product out that is very interesting, the air conditioned bed. The bed is made in the Netherlands and is being used at eco resorts in sub tropical climates. The bed is a canopy bed design with the air conditioned air coming from the canopy portion. This allows the user to keep the room at regular temperature but have the bed air conditioned with cooler air saving electricity that is normally needed to cool the entire room.
The product is called Evening Breeze. For more information visit their site.Web Site.
We do not plan to offer these beds at the inn but thought they were an interesting eco friendly product.
At the inn we compost just about everything from raw food scraps from breakfast preparation to cooked food the guests do not consume. Fortunately Mary Beth’s breakfasts are well received and most guest’s plates are cleaned of food. Our dog Stu also likes to eat some leftovers but he needs to be on a diet.
For the cooked food that most people throw in the trash can or garbage disposal we use the Green Cone Cooked Food Composter. All kinds of cooked food from pasta to meat can go in the cone and it is gone forever. No odors have been noticed in the 5 plus years we have used ours. It also does not seem to attract animals or flies. All the contents is contained underground.
To learn more visit our eco store section on our web site link shown in the top right corner of this blog.
Did you know that going meat free helps the Earth? The meat industry is a top source for greenhouse gas methane according to a 2006 United Nations Food & Agricultural Organization report. In fact meat and dairy production create more carbon emissions than all the cars and trucks on the highways. Reason why is that cows emit methane which traps 21 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Their solid waste produces nitrous oxide which is a greenhouse gas 300 times more powerful than CO2.
Try going meat free for one day with the Great American Meatout on March 20th.
We are not advocating that everyone should go vegetarian. Just cut back on the amount and frequency that you eat meat.