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Award winning quality can also be eco friendly.
In 2015 we were runners up in the Monmouthshire Business Awards as best Green Business. We were beaten by the large organisation which collects and recycles green waste from the entire county so we were very pleased with that result!
In 2016 we were the winners of the Forester Business Awards best Eco Business category which covers the Forest of Dean and the lower Wye Valley.. We are so delighted!
We are in Wales,the worlds first FAIRTRADE nation.
All three cottages are individually located ( we are not a complex) and in Monmouthshire. They are within or close to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty ( Wye Valley AONB ) and close to the Brecon Beacons National Park and the historic Royal Forest of Dean . There are any number of little SSIs in the locality , clear rivers , fresh air, and excellent wildlife.
Is it any wonder we like to be as green as possible!
We were awarded the Green Dragon award at level two when we had just Foxes Reach and Vanilla cottage. The Green Dragon award is available to all Welsh businesses . Level two is the highest appropriate level for us ( higher levels apply to heavy manufacturing industry) so this is a real accolade.We have let this grading process lapse due to the high cost of renewal but we not only maintain the award standards , we now exceed them. at all three cottages
At Tintern Abbey Cottage and at Foxes Reach we hold the newer Green Business Tourism Award at the highest ( GOLD) level, unsuprising as between them and our own home/office we have solar panels, air source heating and photovoltaic electricity generation panels , low energy lighting and much more.( Vanilla also meets the GOLD standard but has not yet applied for the award simply because its expensive!)
If you would like to know more about the award scheme here is their website www.green-business.co.uk
First of all. Let us be clear that our green efforts do NOT mean that you sacrifice comfort in any way! We are terrifically proud to hold our prizewinning luxury 5 star ratings and we mean to keep them!
Nor does it mean you will find any cranky “knit your own yoghurt” type ideas here! Our cottages are completely “normal” in use (and frankly, if you didn’t ask or we didn’t write this you might not notice we were green at all.) What it does mean is that we are passionate about looking after our very special Monmouthshire environment (and the planet in general come to that since we only have the one) and so we are always looking for a kinder, cleaner, less wasteful, more responsible, way of doing everything we do for you.
The big ways in which we have made changes are:
At all three cottages the entire heating and hot water system is an airsource heat pump which basically turns cold air into warm air by the reverse process used by a freezer. If you are not scientifically minded it seems like magic- but its clean and green, simple for our guests- and burns no fossil fuel.
At Foxes Reach we also have a solar hot water system which means that the sun heats the water when it shines ( often, in fact, even in winter, as we are high here) but when that fails the air source kicks in. You won't notice the difference as in use it's all "normal" but it’s a good one.
Our hot tub is refilled with solar heated water and the electricity it uses to stay hot is also generated by the PV panels on the roof.
Our firewood and our kindling is grown sustainably and packed into handy nets for your convenience . We don’t apply big markups to our firewood supplies, and we are often cheaper than supermarkets /garden centres for similar sacks of wood. We want to encourage you to buy our sustainable wood and use it as the sustainable and frankly gorgeous option. We are now growing some of our own wood as well and returning to the traditional coppicing methods.
Wherever possible we have energy saving or halogen light bulbs and as these expire we are now changing to LED bulbs which are better still. The outside lights are on timers and the little garden lighting is all solar (except for the Christmas fairy lights- not enough sun at that time of year to twinkle them reliably for you).
We recycle and encourage you to do so too. Where there is a doorstep collection we use it. If not, we take your recycling to the collection points ourselves. We save paper, card, tins, glass, plastics and we have separate collections for dead batteries and light bulbs. ( We don't do food waste collection and we don't have compost heaps at the cottages as they do require careful management if not to become a hygiene problem and so far not all guests can cope with this.)
Unclaimed lost property and items no longer meeting our 5 star very smart standards go to charity shops or for recycling as appropriate. We are active members of Monmouth Freecycle and give away Free ( hence the name) items which can still be used but are no longer quite smart enough for our exacting 5 star standards. Recent examples include the sitting room carpet from Foxes Reach, the entire kitchen and equipment from Vanilla, Vanilla's king mattress, a toilet ,washbasin taps, saucepans, crockery and much more.
We have thick attic insulation and double glazing throughout. When Tintern Abbey Cottage was rebuilt the entire house was covered in thick insulation from top to toe and in 2010 Foxes Reach's cold old floor was dug up to insulate below it so the new oak surface is now much warmer as well.
All our machinery ( dishwashers, cookers etc) has AA or even AAA ratings and/or eco programmes and we give you enough crockery and cutlery so that there is never a need to run a half filled machine. We have washing lines and pegs too!
We use eco friendly products and cool washes wherever we can. However you will have noticed that we don’t compromise on cleaning standards and if we need to bring in the serious chemicals and the boil wash we will do so- but only rarely and after the gentler options have failed.
Linens are dried on the line as far as possible. They smell better for a blow in fresh Welsh air as well as using less power!
We do our very best to use local products. Where we can't do this we prefer the Fairtrade or other eco option and we buy from local suppliers at least. All our regular workmen are from locally based family firms. They are craftsmen and we are proud to have them on board. When we won Best in Wales it was hard to tell if we or they were more thrilled.
We use no harsh garden chemicals and our gardens are deliberately planted to encourage the visiting wildlife. In summer you will see many birds bees moths and butterflies as a result. We don’t deadhead until the birds have eaten the seeds from the heads and we compost the grass cuttings at our own home. Our flowerbed fertiliser is a recycled product supplied in generous quantity (!!) by our own horses. The lavender and santolina from the gardens, in particular, perfume the bedlinens.
We have cute little wooden houses for ladybirds ( which so far prefer the window frames) and protect habitats for lone bees and other insects.
Anyone know how to get rid of moles by kind means? Negotiation has failed and we won't use poison but they drive us daft.
Eating out and shopping
In the cottages you will find lists of places to eat and drink which use local produce as well as ideas of where to buy it to take home. Its convenient, it tastes better and its fresher. What more could you ask?
Apart from the good bus service from the bottom of the drive at Abbey Cottage public transport is unfortunately pretty inconvenient in our area so we know you will need to use a car to get the most from your holiday. However, we do have wonderful cycling and walking with waymarked paths, including famous routes, from all three doorsteps. Whether fit enough for a real hike or just more of a gentle potter we would encourage you to get out and enjoy the scenery in the fresh air. Its free- and you will feel wonderful come rain or shine. How many years is it since you went jumping in puddles?
Our office is at our own home and we do our best to reuse and recycle the huge mass of paper we accrue. (What happened to the notion of the paper free office?) We think we are losing this battle! We use recycled and chlorine free paper.
At our back doorstep you will always find a rather untidy heap of cottage recycling waiting for collection and since the refurbishment of Abbey Cottage in particular there is a vast heap of bits of scrap wood which powers the homefires. We look like the last scene of Les Miserables , pretty awful, but we won't tidy it up in a wasteful way so it has to stay and reduce though gradual use.
Our own hot water is also solar and we have PV panels to run our office machinery. Our stable buildings have solar lighting and our cars are efficient diesels.
Tintern Abbey Cottage ,Vanilla Cottage and Foxes Reach Cottage are three self catering accommodation facilities in Monmouthshire. Vanilla Cottage is situated close to the River Usk whilst Foxes Reach Cottage is situated above the Wye at Catbrook. and Tintern Abbey Cottage is on the Wye at Tintern
"The proprietors of Monmouthshire Cottages are committed to the prevention of pollution on all sites, and also committed to continual environmental improvement, whilst ensuring legal compliance with all relevant environmental legislation. The owners of the property are aware of the impact the business has on the environment and it is their aim to maintain ‘Good Practices’ and to encourage guests to respect the environment.
The proprietors are aware of the impact the cottages have on the environment around them such as energy use and waste generation. This is why the proprietors have committed themselves to several environmental improvements . Some of these include:
This policy will be reviewed annually and will be made available to all interested parties on request. It will be displayed in all three cottages and on the Monmouthshire Cottages Website."
- 7 easy steps to saving the planet!
Conserve energy – Reduce energy by switching off lights and closing windows if heating is on. Turn the heating down using the thermostats on each radiator if you are going out for any length of time . Close off bedrooms you are not using .The Energy Saving Trust provides information on what you can do at home.
2. Give the Car a Rest – Leave the car behind, if only for a day. Walk, cycle or use public transport. We have lots of suggestions to help you!
3. Shop Local – Use local products, they literally give you a flavour of the area and help support our neighbours and local communities. Delicious holiday treats to take home too!
We are fortunate to have some fantastic producers of food, drink, and arts and crafts in our region. Ask about local markets or local and regional organic produce.
4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle –Avoid overly packaged goods. Wales is a leader in reducing use of plastic carrier bags so bring your own bags and baskets! Try and recycle any waste you have and please dont throw away good food. Take it with you or leave it for us to give away to people or pets.
5. Be Water Wise – use water wisely. Enjoy your holiday experience but turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, keep baths shallowish and showers shortish, and wait till you have a full load before running washing machine or dishwasher! Leave unused linens aside so we need not do unecessary laundry.
.6. Respect Nature – Help us to look after the landscape and wildlife by not littering, guarding against fire and using footpaths and cycle-ways responsibly. Bag and bin dog mess.
7. Support Green Tourism Businesses – There are hundreds of businesses trying to reduce their environmental impacts through the Green Tourism Business Scheme. Businesses are awarded Bronze,Silver and Gold for their efforts to be more environmentally responsible. See www.green-business.co.uk for more information. We are proud to have the GOLD award!
AND Most importantly, have a great time when you are here; we’d like you to come back!
Guests at Monmouthshire Cottages will be attending the ICC Cricket in Cardiff this summer
Lord Elis-Thomas was in Tintern Abbey for the opening of the Museum of the Moon, part of the exceptional Wye Valley River festival.
Monmouthshire Cottages has again won the top accolade of Best Self Catering in Wales