That’s a slogan that we use at The Speckled Hen Inn and it means more to us with each passing day. It seems that the more we learn about green living, eco-travel, sustainability, etc., the more we discover that there is to learn. Every purchasing, planting, and menu decision is affected by out commitment to approach these decisions in a way that will minimize any negative impact and maximize the positive.
Each year in April we renew our certification in the Travel Green Wisconsin program. It is the perfect opportunity to take stock of what we have accomplished and look forward to what will come in the year ahead. Going “green” is a journey. Let’s take a look at what we have done, are doing, and hope to do soon.
The easiest and obvious things came first. Compact fluorescent bulbs replace incandescent light bulbs as they burn out. Motion sensors that turn lights on for a short period of time are used in many areas both inside the Inn and along the outdoor walkways. As appliances wear out they are replaced with EnergyStar rated appliances. Refrigerators, freezers, washers and clothes dryers have been some recent examples. Each guest room has an additional waste can just for items to be recycled. Information about what can be recycled by our refuse pick-up company is posted for guests to read. We also recycle batteries, print cartridges, and many other items. Nothing just automatically goes in the trash bin. A linen re-use program is in effect and bath liquids are offered in dispensers rather than little plastic bottles.
Water conservation is a major concern at our Inn. We do have our own well that provides us with beautiful clear, clean water. We eliminated bottled water from our “amenities offered” list more than a year ago and guests seem to enjoy our natural water supply. It does, however take electricity to pump that water out of the ground so we are constantly looking for ways to reduce our water usage. We have installed low-flow shower heads and water conserving toilets. Our laundry is equipped with high efficiency washers and we sweep rather than hosing off the decks, porches and walkways. New garden beds have drip irrigation systems and are mulched to retain moisture. Rain barrels to use for watering the decorative landscape planters are in the plans for this season.
The Inn’s 50-acre property is home to may species of birds, deer, wild turkey, and other woodland and wetland creatures. The spring-fed creeks on the property supply them with an open source of water year-round. We hope that our guests will enjoy and respect the natural habitat while they are here. Many guests express their joy at having a place to reconnect with the land.
It has long been an ideal, goal, dream, whatever you want to call it, of ours to live off our land. Our favorite bookshelf has always contained books outlining the various ways that one might accomplish that. While being completely self-sufficient is still a distant dream, we have made some major efforts toward that goal. Our vegetable garden and orchards continue to expand. It is a joy to prepare and offer our guests breakfast items that feature the bounty of our land. We have also developed great relationships with other local growers and suppliers whose goods also grace our table and additionally give our guests a destination for their exploration of the area.
I want to close this post by saying a few words about the final word in our slogan – Style. We strongly feel that embracing sustainability and being environmentally conscious is not tied to “doing without” but rather to finding better, more earth friendly, ways of doing the things that you want to do. It is about embracing what you can create with whatever is available and sharing it with those you care about. Our decorating “Style” reflects the roads we have traveled and what we find that offers us comfort. Our food “Style” reflects our passion for fresh, local, and lovely. And our hospitality “Style” reflects our willingness to share what we have created with our guests. We hope that they enjoy as much as we do.