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Sustainable Pioneers – 12 Cornish venues & ventures tackling the climate challenge

This September at C365 What's On we're putting a spotlight on sustainability.

With the increasing pressure of climate change and plastic affecting our oceans, now more than ever we all need to play our part in protecting our planet. Whether you are a local business, a cultural venue or a visitor to Cornwall, there are all things we can do to make our world sustainable.

Unlike a city, living in Cornwall surrounded by sea and rugged countryside you become very connected with the landscape. There are loads of new organisations popping up all the time supporting the environmental cause and others who are working to incorporate new sustainable policies into the day-to-day running of their business.

Read on to find out how Cornish venues are taking on the climate challenge.

1. Mount Pleasant Eco Park

Mount Pleasant Ecological Park near Porthtowan in Cornwall has been developed over the last 18 years as a flexible, imaginative community resource. It provides high quality work-space for businesses and groups, organic growing space for local people through the community garden scheme, training and education in traditional and sustainable skills to schools, colleges, universities and the general public through their charity the Down to Earth Foundation. The Eco Park is also a charming location for green weddings, wild camping, outdoor events including theatre, skills fairs, workshops, conferences, festivals, live music gigs and private celebrations.

Electricity across the site is powered by an on-site wind turbine and solar panels, with the mains electricity coming from renewable energy sources. The campsite has solar showers and all buildings have been designed to let in as much natural light as possible. In 2018 the eco park swapped their mains water by digging a borehole which now provides 10,000 litres a day. They also utilise rainwater to flush toilets.

These are just some of the many processes to help reduce energy usage on-site. You can find out more on their website mpecopark.co.uk

2. Quick Panda Productions

Quick Panda Productions are the mind behind Cornwall’s well-loved Great Estate Festival, Cider & Music Festival and The Secret Gin Garden. The company have a number of sustainable initiatives which are threaded throughout all of their events. The first is around visitor travel – the company try to limit vehicles onsite and encourage car sharing to reduce the carbon footprint of their events. The second initiative focusses on reducing plastic waste – re-usable cups are sold on site and the company have a policy preventing traders from selling single-use plastic. Designated recycling stations can be found throughout and campers are provided with recycling bags.

To find out more about Quick Panda Productions Events visit quickpandaproductions.co.uk

3. Newquay Zoo

Our friends at Newquay Zoo are currently involved in a series of projects around sustainable palm oil and marine plastics to protect our animals.

To increase customer awareness around palm oil, in August the zoo held 2 days of talks on sustainable shopping featuring Newquay Supports and Giki. Giki is a mobile app to encourage people to cut their environmental impact. Users can search for or scan the barcode of thousands of supermarket products to see how sustainable they are. For example, do they have palm oil? Is the packaging recyclable? How far have they travelled? Newquay Zoo also ensure all food sold on site is made using sustainable palm oil.

In 2017 the zoo stopped selling single-use plastic bottles and are now working with suppliers to use biodegradable alternatives and to source products made from recycled plastic. They also support the Marine Conservation Society by highlighting fish stocks that are under threat and suggesting alternative species that people can eat.

Lastly, Newquay Zoo organise regular beach cleans throughout the year – encouraging people to protect the environment whilst learning about local species. You can hear about any upcoming beach cleans on their website here.

4. Carnglaze Caverns

Carnglaze is part of the Green Tourism Britain Scheme and currently holds a Gold Award. The awards certification programme run by Green Tourism recognises the commitment of tourism businesses which are actively working to become more sustainable. Their Bronze/Silver/Gold awards are acknowledged worldwide as an indicator of good environmentally-friendly practice, and are a great way of progressing on a green journey as well as acting as a hallmark of ‘green quality’, attracting custom from increasing numbers of eco-minded visitors.

Carnglaze encourage visitors to come by foot, bike or public transport by offering a offer a 10% discount on admission. They also ask visitors to use recycling bins, keep to the paths to look after their beautiful flora and fauna and offer special biodegradable doggie bags.

Read more about Carnglaze’s Green Policy here.

5. Trebah Garden

Trebah are delighted that since August their Visitor Centre has been running completely off-grid thanks to recently installed ground source heat pumps. The heat pumps are the latest addition to Trebah’s environmental programme joining the solar panels installed in 2016, recycling bins across the site and their Plastic Free Helford status confirmed earlier this year.

Trebah consider and strive for sustainable practice in every aspect of what they do including purchasing goods and materials, transport, water consumption, waste management, energy usage and conserving biodiversity. They also monitor their performance on a regular basis and communicate with members, visitors and staff to keep them updated on progress.

You can find out more about Trebah’s environmental policy here.

6. Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary

Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary near Looe have a big focus on conservation and sustainability. They encourage people to reuse and recycle wherever possible and to take every opportunity as a learning experience to become more aware of how easy it can be to make green conscious decisions in everyday life. Some ways in which they meet environmental aims include having no single-use plastic on site (no disposable cups or crockery in the café or shop), offering easy access to recycling bins and ‘water stations‘ for people to refill their water bottles – to enforce this message the sanctuary stock reusable bottles in their shop.

The café only serves vegetarian and vegan food which not only helps the environment and encourages sustainable living, but also gives visitors a chance to sample foods they may not normally eat. They use sustainable energy sources such as solar panels and biomass boilers and run workshops for children where they can make things such as bird feeders using toilet rolls and toys for monkey enrichment using recycled materials.

The sanctuary utilise consistent signage as a key tool to educate and help visitors make green choices, so they have the understanding as to why certain options are not available to them. For example, they have signage to promote wildlife gardening, sustainable energy choices and to explain why they serve vegetarian and vegan food.

For more information about conservation and sustainability at Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary visit their website.

7. Bosinver Farm Cottages

Pat Smith, owner of Bosinver Farm Cottages co-founded Final Straw Cornwall to sign up hundreds of hospitality businesses to no longer serve plastic straws and raise awareness of single use plastics. She is involved in many environmental community groups,  is an active beach cleaner and often invites guests to join in with her on one of her beach clean days.

“At Bosinver Farm Cottages we have always understood the fragile balance of our precious environment and the demands we all make on it. Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do – it drives everything from the way we manage our land to how we run our business, how we construct and manage our buildings to the suppliers we use – over the years we are proud to have won many awards for our achievements. The decisions we make in line with our environmental ethos often cost us more money, but we try to choose to follow a path which we are comfortable with and offers more rewards than just profitability…  Our aim is to give all our guests a magical, memorable holiday while minimising the impact we all have on the environment”.

Read our Sustainable Events post here for Pat’s top tips to make your event cleaner and greener.

8. South West Lakes

South West Lakes Trust are celebrating their recent success in securing a £95,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to run a two-year ‘I Love Water’ project focusing on water sustainability.  Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project, which is match funded by South West Water, will conserve and improve habitats for wildlife that live in the water and by the water, whilst also highlighting the importance of using water wisely and why we must all play our part in reducing water usage across the south west region. The project will be launched during the Year of Green Action, which is all about connecting people with nature and enabling more people to take action to improve our environment.

Water is a finite resource which is essential to life. Only 2.5% of the world’s water is freshwater, and less than 1% is accessible and usable. By saving water, you are protecting the environment; less power and fewer chemicals are required to treat the water, so less carbon is produced. Quick and easy ways to save water in your home: turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, ensure full loads in dishwasher and washing machine, and take quick showers!

You can read more about where our water comes from in the south west here.

9. The Eden Project

Eden is undoubtedly the most well-known venue in Cornwall for sustainable practice. From reducing energy and carbon to composting waste, to saving water – Eden is doing it all. Power is generated on site through solar panels and a 5kW wind turbine and the charity is exploring the possibility of hydro and geothermal energy. Eden’s millions of plants help to capture carbon, food is sourced locally and on a seasonal basis and they also operate a green travel plan. In 2016 Eden introduced a fleet of 18 Renault electric vehicles which are used by the team on and offsite. Food waste is turned into compost for the gardens, rain water on the biomes and underground drainage systems harvest water coming on to the site, which is then used to irrigate plants and flush toilets.

To find out more about Eden’s sustainable initiatives visit their website.

10. Heartlands

Heartlands use a top-down approach to reduce energy consumption within buildings where practically possible by improving insulation, reducing air permeability and adding draught lobbies. Throughout the development they’ve used energy efficient systems (low energy lighting) and renewable energy technologies (biomass district heating, solar photo-voltaics and wind turbine).

Heartlands consultants have devised a communal rainwater harvesting strategy that will use existing below ground storage structures to store rainwater collected from roofs across the site which will supplement toilet flushing demands, as well as irrigation demands and top-ups for water features. The combination of water efficient fixtures and fittings and the rainwater harvesting system should provide a 60% reduction in potable water demands.

Find out more about Heartlands’ environmental, economic and social aims here.

11. Bedruthan Hotel & Spa

Bedruthan Hotel’s ‘Cherish Our World’ ethos aims to minimise the impact they have on the environment, through careful waste management, biodiversity, water conservation and energy saving. Their waste management strategy includes composting garden waste, tea leaves and coffee grounds from restaurants and seaweed from the spa and recycling (including old mattresses, cooking oils and guest soap bars). They also ask suppliers to use little packaging and visitors to make sustainable choices.

Bedruthan encourage the growth of a variety of wildflowers, have bird boxes dotted about the grounds and leave parts of their garden to grow wild, supporting biodiversity with the return of more indigenous butterflies, bumblebees, moths, lizards and small mammals. Manure and wood chippings are sourced from local suppliers and new landscaping has allowed them to provide a variety of habitats.

Energy is produced through a combination of solar panels and renewable providers and electricity in guest rooms is controlled by key cards. In the main kitchen, Bedruthan have their own system where waste energy from fridges is used to heat hot water – the energy saved by doing this is equivalent to the energy used to boil 3,250 full kettles of water each day.

These are just some of Bedruthan’s sustainable initiatives, to find out more visit their website.

12. The Lost Gardens of Heligan

The team at Heligan work in a variety of ways to ensure that they are enhancing the sustainability of the site and the wider environment. To encourage visitors to use less single use plastic a water ‘Refill Station’ has been installed in the Heligan Kitchen with plans for a second station in progress for the gardens. Bins have recently been re-designed to create Recycling Stations that are both visually appealing and easy to use so that visitors are encouraged to separate their waste and recycling accordingly.

There are a number of ways to get to Heligan without driving and those who do are offered a green travel discount. The gardens are part of the National Cycle Network trail and several public bus services come to the gardens or people often visit on foot from Mevagissey. Heligan grows up to 500 different varieties of fruit, vegetables and herbs on-site which travels just 157 yards to the kitchens where chefs create all manner of edible delights. The gift shop also sells a wide range of local food and drink products as well as locally made crafts and jewellery.

Office lighting has recently replaced with LED versions which means that almost all lighting across the site has been converted to LED.  Heligan are currently running two energy monitoring projects to highlight how and when they use energy, this data will inform future energy projects across the site. Their newly launched website includes a sustainability page detailing our environmental policy as well as five key ways that visitors can help to be environmentally friendly during their visit. They are also about to launch a ‘Green Newsletter’ for all staff to ensure that sustainability efforts are carried through across all departments.

Find out more about Heligan’s Sustainability initiatives here.