I would honestly say that Damian and I never really thought about our Green Impact on the world until our expedition with Raleigh International. Yes we recycled, but consciously choosing how to shop, or run the household was not a priority. We are still not totally ethical, or green and we know the bad choices we make. I say this to be human. To say, hands up, we need to do better … so much better. The difference now though is, we are more educated, more aware, more willing to make what is often a more expensive and harder choice if it means the planet that we all live on, might stand a better chance.

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I remember when we were leaving Costa Rica, Raleigh asked us to make a pledge of something we would do on our return. I pledged to tell people about what I had learned, because nobody had told me. I pledged to eat less meat and consider what I ate, because I had personally witnessed a blocked road due to a landslide because of deforestation for cattle. I saw the smoke and grime spewing in to the air from a non sustainable palm oil factory.
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I also however, had the pleasure of being on expedition with young adults from Central America who were passionate about change and politics and the environment that they could represent and change. I learned about the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and was inspired to consider the world as a global community. So much stuck with me, but when we returned to normal, consumer life in the UK, so many old ways stayed because it is just so much more convenient. Then I remembered that one thing I had learned in my months overseas, is that small changes can start to make a difference and this is where we started. Small changes.
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With World Environment Day this June and given the changes to life we have seen due to a pandemic, it feels appropriate to remind ourselves, why going for a Green Policy is important. Whilst the world centres on other current issues, the environment is still being destroyed and climate change has taken a back seat. We only have to think about recent months and that we now appreciate, how much more the natural world has come to mean to all of us.
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So we are sharing today our process in achieving our Green Small Business certification at the beginning of the year and our policy for this. We are never a couple to preach, or tell others what their choices should be, but sometimes, somebody wants to learn something and decide for themselves if they want to make a change. Every little change can add up. Just think of how Greta Thunberg started.

We knew about the offer that was being run to achieve a green certification and to be honest, because we are not green at all in our view, we always ignored it. We live in an old house with energy issues, we have a diesel car, our purchases are not all from green companies and to be honest we just felt like a fraud even attempting to go for something like this.

Speaking to Tim from Green Small Business immediately put our minds at rest. This is not about achieving the certification like the ‘big boys’ do. This was about identifying what the issues are and making a commitment to change. We were pleasantly surprised with how many green initiatives we already had in place and how many others could be quickly put in to place. Yes we have some massive, long term issues with big financial implications, but they are at least noted now in our policy to be heading towards.
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Here are just a few of the things that have made a difference:

Working with companies that have green credentials such as our website hosting and who we bank with.
Cleaning products that are safe for the environment.
Refillable bottles to reduce the impact of plastic.
Checking our electricity company were 100% renewable.
Buying toilet roll from a company that actively work with countries to help with their sanitation issues. (This was just one of the projects we were also a part of during our expedition.)
Adding extra recycling bins to our en-suites. (We noticed a massive upscale on the recycling immediately, simply because we made it more convenient for people.)
Swapping sponges that contain plastic to washable cloths.
Purchasing beeswax wraps.
Sharing on our website about public transport options.
Having a bean to cup coffee machine so no plastic pods need recycling.
Plus personal changes made on what products we buy, or things such as switching to shampoo cubes and bamboo toothbrushes.

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We still have so many things to do and changes to make, but bit by bit we are more aware of choices and the impact of our decisions now. It is not easy to be green and we are not perfect, but if we were to offer any advice it would be to start by swapping just one thing in your life and take it from there. We have enclosed our Green Policy Mission Statement here and if anyone has any tips, or websites, or suppliers they love, or can recommend, please do share.

Mission statement

St Marks Stays recognises that the environment is important to our business and our customers. We recognise our responsibility to manage our environmental impacts carefully. We are committed to reducing our environmental impact and continually improving our environmental performance as an integral part of our business strategy and operating methods, with regular review points. We will encourage customers, suppliers and other stakeholders to do the same.

Five ways to make a positive impact when holidaying in the UK

1 Buy a water bladder, or bottle for walking

2 Use a travel coffee cup

3 Tick to say no plastic bags when organising your online food delivery

(Or shop in local stores when you arrive with bags for life)

4 Recycle even on holiday and when out and about

5 Turn off lights when you go out

https://www.un.org/en/observances/environment-day
https://raleighinternational.org
https://www.globalgoals.org
https://www.facebook.com/gretathunbergsweden/
https://greensmallbusiness.com

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