Everyone working within our group is encouraged to support our ‘eco’ plan – the manifesto that includes areas of the business such as food and drink, recycling and energy consumption. At all of our properties we make efforts to keep our energy usage low. All new dishwashers and glass washers feature both water saving, chemical saving and energy saving technology. We use movement sensitive lighting and timers wherever possible, and all of the electricity we use comes from 100 per cent renewable sources. We are installing ground source heat pumps to help fuel our new cookery school, SEASON at Lainston House and all the fires in our hotels and venues use wood from our grounds, which we replenish by planting new trees.
When it comes to food and beverage, we will always try and use suppliers close by, which helps in some small way to reduce the amount of traffic on the roads.
In addition, South Lodge and Pennyhill Park have teamed up with Tidy Planet to install a system that macerates all waste food from the kitchens. This is then sent through a ‘rocket system’ in the garden, which generates compost over a two week period. This compost is then used in the gardens.
Although each of these is doing something noble for our planet, we actually go one step further by operating kitchen gardens at each of our four hotels. This is not just about providing fresh, high quality vegetables, fruit and other ingredients to our restaurants. It’s about creating a more sustainable way of getting food from the field to your fork.
One plight we are particularly interested in is that of the world’s bees. So much so that we have installed beehives at six of our properties. Although no one can be 100 per cent sure about the reason for the decline, the population of the black and yellow fuzzy insects is falling. And while pesticides have been blamed, there is also an argument that the impact of the human race on the environment is also a contributing factor. Bee keepers in the USA and Europe have reported a drop in annual hive populations of up to 40 per cent – a worrying fact when you consider one in three bites of all food worldwide is dependent on pollinated plants. We like to think keeping bees that produce honey in our grounds is helping to boost the population as well as providing a delicious ingredient we can use in our restaurants. Customers can also purchase the honey produced to take home with them. The severity of the decline in our bee count was made all the more obvious in 2014, when the European Commission (EC) suggested a ban on a particular type of pesticide. The ban highlighted the danger of using the world’s most widely used insecticide, which is one of the leading suspected causes of what’s been named ‘colony collapse disorder’. The action recommended by the EC followed the concerns from scientists about the impact of the bee decline on the world’s food supply. With the majority of the planet’s 100 most important food crops relying on crop or pollination systems, now is the time to act.
Plant Bee-friendly flowers
Try planting lilacs, lavender, sage, verbena and wisteria. In the summer go for mint, tomatoes, pumpkins and sunflowers, rosemary, poppies and honeysuckle. And in the autumn, fuchsia.
Give them a drink
Bees like water. So consider putting a bird bath or small bowl in your garden to catch the rain.
Teach others they are friendly
Many of us, especially children, run a mile when a bee comes close. But whatever you do don't kill them, they are not carnivores or predators who will attack us unprovoked.