We engage in the following sustainable practices that conserve natural resources that reduce environmental impact:-
Our own cottage:
We operate a policy of minimal impact on the environment.
We have external insulation on our house providing the inside with a thermal mass to work in our favour, keeping the cottage warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Inside the cottage has been insulated, using hemp lime insulation, hempcrete plaster and natural paint. Hemp is an environmentally friendly insulator which is natural, breathable and antibacterial.
Our heating is primarily provided by a 12kg wood burning stove. This is a very efficient way of heating and is almost carbon neutral as the wood / fuel supply is from local wood. It also heats the radiators, which all contain thermostatic radiator valve (TRV), a self-regulating valve fitted to hot water heating system radiators. (The replacement of a manual heating control with a TRV can save at least 280 kilograms (620 lb) CO2 per year). In conjunction, we also installed a high efficiency C26 / (96% efficient) condenser boiler and our hot water emersion is insulated.
The cottage has been equipped with eco-friendly light bulbs. The lights outside are solar or low energy consumption. Windows are double glazed / triple glazed and we have triple glazed front and back doors. We do not us a tumble dryer – we air dry everything; in the summer outside on the line, and in the winter on our own handmade drying rack (made from locally sourced and recycled materials). We also have an A+++ highly efficient Samsung Ecobubble 7kg direct drive washing mashing which gives equal results of the best of all machines with 30% less power consumption and far less water.
We keep a close eye on our consumption and are very aware of what the big energy users are.
ECO Camping Pods:
The pods are manufactured by the Kerry based company Cisco Woodframe Homes.
All wood used is in compliance with the Forest Stewardship Council guidelines. The wood used in the construction is a naturally ‘warm’ material but for extra winter warmth they are insulated with sheep’s wool insulation inside the walls, with a special foil layer under the roof helps keep it cool in summer. There is a small, high level window in the back wall, this not only provides light but will help keep the living space ventilated and aid ‘through draft’ on hot summer days. The French doors are double glazed to reduce condensation and provide sound insulation.
Toilet / showers:
The water for washing/showers in our camping facilities is solar powered. The water is from our own well.
The shed has been converted to a craft / hobbies room. It has been converted using natural materials. It is insulated with hemp-lime insulation and insulation on the floor. It has 60mm insulated cladding roofing, and four panels of skylights which also provides natural lighting. Again, it contains eco-friendly light bulbs. For heating, it also contains a Rockhopper wood burning stove.
Composting and the three R’s
Composting: Composting is something we have been doing for quite a while and have down to a fine art. Food waste is composted, or fed to the chickens. We have three composter’s:- A ‘big pig’ composter, which can also take food waste (like meat / cheese) and is rodent proof. A homemade wooden composter in which current compostable material goes, and a plastic composter (made from recycled plastic) which contains ‘ready’ compost for use in the garden.
Recycle: To summarize, we have a ten compartment recycle system (handmade from recycled material) and a tougher four compartment steel system. Each compartment is labelled for the type of recyclable material it takes, and contains a ‘removable peg system’ of clear plastic bin bags. In this way, all types of packaging waste are segregated before taking it to the recycle center (and the clear bins bags which are taken back and reused over). We bring a full load of recycled waste to the local recycle center in Millstreet four / five times a year. Sometimes we can bring things back from the recycle center and use it ourselves e.g., the workbench in the shed is made from someone’s old doors.
Reduce and Reuse: It is a principal of this house to avoid buying anything with excessive packaging. We always buy the products that have the least amount of follow on work (so reducing the recycling workload). We avoid altogether buying products with wrappers that cannot be recycled. Needless to say we use bags for life so we never have to buy once off plastic bags. We never go to the shops for one item or even two or three. Our shopping is done when we are in the town anyway i.e., we will do a shop on the way back from work. This saves time, money and fuel. Packaging waste is further reduced by growing our own.