As a famous frog once said: It's Not Easy Being Green. But everyone has to start somewhere, and we think it's important that we look for ways to use up less stuff, kick out less waste and generally take more care.
We start from a curious starting-point: here we sit, slap-bang in the middle of a sensitive, protected, astoundingly beautiful landscape; we all know that one of the biggest threats to the fragile balance which keeps it that way is the impact of visitors, and cars; yet in order to live here, we rely upon you, our visitors, to come. So, what to do?
Our desire to be good custodians of this historic and beautful building was uppermost in our minds during the refurbishment of St Cuthbert's House. So we've used modern building techniques to preserve its charm and history, yet make it 'perform' to the standards required in new-builds.
We've fitted a top-notch condensing boiler - and lament the fact that our desire to use a ground source heat pump and solar energy was thwarted, by a combination of planning restrictions and unreasonable expense.
We've fitted thermostatic valves to every radiator, to give almost infinite control of temperature in every individual room, and fitted cast-iron 'lookalikes' to replace the old radiators in the Cuthbert room (because we just couldn't rescue the originals.)
We source as much of our food as we can from local suppliers, and when we can't do that then we're on the lookout for fair-trade or organic alternatives. We recently achieved accreditation through the 'Local Food Awards' for our commitment to using - well, local food. But then, when the best sausages in the world are made just a stone's throw from our door, why wouldn't we? Our local bakery is a few hundred yards away, and when they deliver our bread in the morning it's still warm - so why would we buy plastic bread from the supermarket?
We also source as many of our services locally as possible too - so for example printing, web-hosting, and laundry are all carried out by local firms. We're also members of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust and RSPB, because someone needs to watch out for those little critters.
We've chosen solid wooden furniture for your bedroom, built by real men in a proper joiners shop in England, rather than by robots in a factory-plex on the other side of the world. They use good quality timber certified to be from sustainable forests.
We realise that our 'sustainable tourism' aspirations are just that - ours. But we know that many of our guests want to take care that when they come on holiday, they're doing so 'responsibly' and not damaging a fragile landscape or way of life. And as we've already said, when there is a thriving and vibrant local industry turning out great local produce, and when the local shops are busy and well-stocked, and when local artists find a ready outlet for their work - well, that makes a much better holiday destination for you, and it makes this rural economy tick over.
You won't find us standing on a soapbox shouting about this stuff whilst you're here, but we've heard many guests say how important this stuff is to them - so here are some practical ideas about how you might aspire with us. Most of them are taken from our 'Responsible Visitor Charter'. They might seem almost insignificant in isolation, but when many of us do one tiny thing, the cumulative effect can have a big impact. So, here goes: