Some of the initiatives identified by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) include:
Jessie Mac’s is a refurbished Victorian manse, in the village of Birnam, Perthshire, offering a mix of self-catering hostel and bed & breakfast accommodation. The aim is to provide a high standard of budget accommodation. The target market of the business is ‘green’ minded guests and active travellers interested in the outdoors.
The VIBES Management Award recognises businesses whose management systems deliver continuous improvement in environmental performance. The category is aimed at businesses that are taking a holistic approach to environmental improvement and can demonstrate the associated economic and social benefits that have been achieved. Jessie Mac’s was the winner of the SME category for the Management Award and the VIBES Judges were very impressed by the environmental approaches and achievements of this small business.
From application to site visit the VIBES Judges (representatives from Zero Waste Scotland, SEPA and Scottish Enterprise) felt that Jessie Mac’s have demonstrated excellent commitment to their environmental approaches and successfully integrate these into their business objectives. Jessie Mac’s thoroughly impressed the judges with their passion for being small, having a low environmental impact and a strong community involvement.
The company was accredited with a gold award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme in January 2014. This involved developing an environmental management system which monitors progress and sets targets for on-going improvements. An Energy Saving Trust survey was undertaken and this highlighted a number of initiatives that could be instigated to reduce energy and water use and minimise waste produced.
The company use their environmental credentials as a marketing tool and Jessie Mac’s approach to sustainability is appreciated by their customers. Guests are encouraged to be part of the development of the business through comments/ suggestion box and the occupancy rate for the hostel has increased by 130% over the past three years.
Jessie Mac’s are active in the community and bed nights are donated to environmental charities in lieu of carbon off-setting. The local economy benefits as the majority of the food for the hostel is sourced locally using organic and fairtrade products where possible. In addition furniture is donated to, and some is bought from, the local Salvation Army Shop. A use is even found for redundant towels which are donated to the local dog shelter.
The team are to be commended for their enthusiasm and motivation and their approach to environmental improvement. The judges were particularly impressed with the drive and commitment to put sustainability at the heart of the operations and the practical measures they have taken to ensure this.
The business are involved with the Scottish Independent Hostel association whereby ideas are exchanged with other hostels to share best practice, they have hosted a best practice visit through the Hostel Hub and have also presented at an event on the benefits of using an environmental management system.
The company has future plans for improvement including reducing energy use further, reducing waste and increasing recycling. The ethos identified demonstrates that embedding sustainability into every day operations leads to a positive knock-on effect for the local economy.
Brenda Roddy, owner of Jessie Mac’s said: “Looking after our environment is hugely important to us and as such, we have put sustainable practices in place at Jessie Mac’s, encouraging our staff and customers to be as environmentally friendly as possible. It is fantastic to have our efforts recognised by the VIBES Awards, as for us, this is the environmental award that really counts.”