For us “going green” has always meant we live simply, with as little impact on our environment. We have used terms like “rustic” and “simple living” to convey our approach – but now, sustainability and “green” have gained the wider public’s attention. Some of that is good, some of that means green washing is running amuck. Hotels in particular are famous for calling themselves “green.” We urge you to ask them, and the company that makes such claims, what steps they are taking. So here’s what we’re doing, and why…
reducing energy use
Puerto Rico’s electricity comes from shipped in petroleum, natural gas and coal. Consequently, it’s polluting, and very expensive. We have installed a solar-powered pool pump that runs great, and has significantly reduced our overall electric use. We’re delighted to announce that we are close to completing our full solar energy system, with an array of 24 PV panels, achieving our long-term goal to be “meter neutral.” In smaller ways, we:
- have long used use a combination of solar and on-demand for our water heating.
- rarely use our clothes dryer – instead hang all our inn linens to dry on the line.
- don’t own, and have never used, AC. At the finca often the breezes, alone, are enough for comfort.
- use LED and low wattage bulbs
The water on Vieques comes from the rain forest on the main island of Puerto Rico. Consequently, it is safe to drink, but a little on the scarce, expensive side. Because the pipes can break, it can go out for days. We have put in cistern collectors to minimize any inconvenience to guests. For all these reasons, we use it sparingly by:
- harvesting rainwater in collectors for irrigation use
- augment our island water with grey water for landscape use
- use gravity to fill our water system from our storage cisterns
- change guests’ inn linens weekly
- keep showers, dishes, laundry use — all to minimum
reduce, re-use & recycle
We were some of the island’s first folks to recycle. Starting when it first came to the island about 13 years ago, when we had to truck it ourselves across the island. Now, the city picks up every week and we ask guests to join our efforts by sorting, and keeping clean all recyclables — plastic, metals, and paper. We:
- hate plastics, styrofoam, and unnecessary paper products and consumption. We avoid buying single-use “disposables” and have confirmed you can run an inn for the most part, without them. Because we don’t use paper towels and napkins, we use cloth instead.
- don’t buy (or believe in) single-use plastic water bottles, and encourage guests to bring their own re-fillable bottles from home.
- reuse grocery store plastic bags, and keep clean ones available for guests to use. Please ask! we have plenty and hate to see more build up. Worse, we hate to see them, and all other plastics, litter our roads, trees, beaches, and add to the land fill.
- don’t subscribe to magazines — but sure appreciate it when guests bring their old ones, or good books, down to share with others.
- ask our guests to join our Beach Clean Up Crew. grab a plastic bag for each person going to the beach, and grab three pieces of litter off the beach. Do it every day – kids love it! Mother nature does too.
- before buying a cooler or beach chair, even olive oil or shampoo, check with us. We have lots of snorkeling, beach toys, sunscreen and bug dope left behind from other guests. And when you are checking out please let us know about the things you want to leave for others.
We’re committed to taking a minimal, simple approach to our day-to-day operations, so we:
- have a natural salt system for our pool, avoiding unnecessary chemicals.
- try to use only biodegradable soaps, detergents, and clean with vinegar whenever possible
- landscape without herbicides or fertilizers, preferring to live with an occasional June bug than chemicals
- let the lizards keep the mosquito population down, rather than use bug sprays or pesticides.
- compost whatever we can, to improve the soil, lessen our solid waste impact.
- use only 100% cotton sheets and towels; recycling our linens, into rags, dish cloths etc.
- actively support environmental and educational groups, through discounted stays and auction donations; sponsor internships, and participation in community programs.
- ask our guests to remember you are coming to the tropics; home to various critters — even those you might not prefer. Every so often we see exotic things like scorpions, tarantulas, sometimes it’s god forbid, a cockroach or mouse. We do our very best to keep things clean and pest-free, but our place is in the country and very open air, and these guys were here first. If this is alarming, you may want to book elsewhere.
how you can help
Learn how to lighten your footprint on our little island with a green travel tips article written by Corky Parker.