Sustainable Luxury Stays at Bethnal&Bec
At Bethnal&Bec we're committed to becoming a Net Zero business and we strive to make our luxury stays as sustainable as possible. From rescuing beautiful surplus furnishings destined for landfill to installing our own hot composters we want every part of our stays to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Hopefully we will inspire you to take some of our sustainability practises home with you too.
Managing Self Catering Waste
First of all, we were horrified to discover how some of our 'recycling' wasn't actually getting reused. Our local council made some big changes which has impacted how we manage our waste.
We have implemented the following processes for our recycling, hot composting systems & ReWorked.
...for all paper, cardboard, hard plastic, tins and cans.
...for soft plastics. This is where we ask guests to recycle all items which are not eligible for local recycling bins/services. It is the ideal zero waste solution which helps avoid unnecessary landfill.
Once the box is full, it is recycled to a new packaging media & the contents are pre-shredded. The plastic material, once shredded is sent to a blending area where it is combined with a mixture of polymers from ocean cleans, verge cleans, food and cosmetic wastes. Lastly, the materials are bonded into a board which can then be placed back into use or made into a new product on site.
...we have introduced Hot Composters into both our home and your self catering accommodation. Literally ALL food waste goes in it. Yes, that includes meat & dairy!
Hot composters do the following:
- produces compost in just 30-90 days!
- 200 litre capacity can take at least 5kg of household waste per week
- the composter itself was designed and manufactured in the UK using 100% recyclable expanded polypropylene.
We use the compost on our vegetable garden and in the retreats veggie gardens!
If you’re interested to find out more then check out Hot Bin Composting.
This is all on top of the efforts we already make to encourage a zero waste outlook. We promote nose-to-tail dining with our locally sourced food boxes, and our recycling messaging makes it clear how easily guests can get involved.
In fact, we actively discourage anything being thrown away - apart from a short list of items like sanitary products - that is now the ONLY thing that goes into the commercial waste bins (and we’re researching if we can do anything with that too!)
We gently encourage you, our guests to take our approach to zero waste home with you. Information is available in all the retreats as well as here on our website about sustainable methods, and why we think they’re so important to support our natural environment. We hope that you will feel inspired by the ease of these systems, and implement some in your own homes.
...we are dedicated to reducing the harmful emissions that our accommodations produce. We have introduced Hippo toilet savers into each property to help save water and all bulbs are now LEDs, including the neon signage we use for decor.
We harvest all rainwater from our downpipes for use in our home and retreats’ gardens, instead of using tap water. We don’t use any commercial weed killers on our grounds, only manual weeding work and the use of natural weed killers. Finally, all plants inside and out are propagated, minimising the need to purchase new plants.
It’s lovely that our work has paid off already! Many of our previous guests have messaged us telling us which initiatives they've liked when we’ve shared sustainability messages on our social media.
We believe this can lead to real, lasting change.
Heating & Oil..
...all our retreats are new builds, offering good insulation and maximum energy efficiency. We use underfloor heating and set our NEST thermostats to a comfortable 19.5 degrees that guests cannot change, reducing the amount of oil used.
We recently introduced ‘Zoodies’ for our guests to wear throughout the winter season which has been highly successful - many guests purchased ‘Zoodies’ to take home with them, further extending our sustainable practices into the community!
Sustainability within our luxury retreats
Decoration & Furnishings
Even before it was 'trendy' we've had a passion for rescuing items that are no longer loved, or destined for the bin and giving them a new lease of life. All three of our luxury retreats feature pre loved furniture, fixtures and accessories that we've curated to form unique spaces that we think are rather special. There is a beauty in not buying new and giving new life to otherwise unwanted items.
The Foaling Box
We are proud to say that our newest overnight stay The Foaling Box, is 90% furnished with recycled pieces, or with furniture destined for landfill. That’s pretty much everything in the lodge from top to bottom: all tiles, grout, bathroom flooring, wood, internal doors, kitchenware and furniture, and grey water systems will reuse wasted water from our washing facilities.
To do this we:
+ utilised second hand items
+ saved from skips
+ saved from Landfill
+ repurposed existing items
+ scoured car boot sales
+ supported charity shops
+ used Freecycle
+ kept our eyes peeled on Facebook Marketplace
There are so many ways to avoid buying new which both helps the planet and your pocket. We hope that we can inspire our guests to begin their own sustainability journey when they experience the luxury and beauty that we've been able to create in the Foaling Box. You can read the full story of The Foaling Box and find out how and where we sourced everything here.
Each of our retreats feature our unique inclusive Staples Pantry. All of the free food we provide in our staples pantry are bought in bulk / large sizes to reduce individual smaller sized packaging being used. We then recycle all glass jars that we use as a household to provide your food items in or use to store items for the business. We also use them widely throughout our home.
We try as hard as possible to buy sustainably and from other sustainable businesses. Sometimes from a Health & Safety aspect its just not possible to not use plastics in a commercial environment. However we are always reviewing this.
Ingeniuos Probiotics; Natural, Vegan Cleaning Solutions
Since March 2021 we have moved all our cleaning products to Ingenious Probiotics. You know ‘good’ (probiotic) bacteria are great for gut health, but have you heard about the probiotic breakthrough in cleaning, hygiene and animal care products? The innovative Provilan ranges have added ‘good’ bacteria – like those in probiotic supplements.
Sourced from plants, they restore a natural, ecological balance that benefits health and the built environment. Each range is vegan-certified, anti-allergenic and designed for sensitive skin. Ingredients are naturally sourced with no harmful chemicals, toxins or artificial fragrances. Proven to reduce harmful bacteria, odours and bio-allergens and eliminate organic waste. Eco-friendly, with recyclable packaging made using ocean recycled plastic.
Safer, effective and non corrosive eco-detergents with a longer lasting probiotic action that continues for up to three days. Effective against the Coronavirus.
When the weather is really hot, we encourage our guests to use some of their used bath water for us by grabbing a jug and watering the garden with it! Its fine if it has soap or bath salts in it - it won't damage the plants and helps avoid using more water to keep them alive.
We encourage our guests to support us with our systems, and hope to inspire them to take some ideas away to implement at home too. We love hearing about the changes we inspire so please do let us know if we've created change in your home!
We have purchased 2 electric bikes for guests to hire during their stay. With a 40 mile range we hope that this will encourage our guests to reduce car usage during their stay and instead explore local towns and villages via bike. It's also a great way for our guests to test out an electric bike and understand if it's something that would work for them in everyday life.
We have installed a Zappi EV charger in our car port allowing guests to charge electric vehicles whilst staying with us. Many of our guests have made the move to electric vehicles, the Zappi charger makes it easy to stay with us without the need to consider charging locations or charging time.
Plant a Tree Scheme
We introduced a ‘plant a tree’ scheme back in October 2021 via International Tree Foundation which has had tremendous success. Upon booking, we ask guests if they’d like to plant a tree for £5 and that money is then donated to the charity. Recently, we have introduced an incentive wherein we will plant a tree for anybody travelling to us via sustainable means. Since October 2021, we have planted 234 trees for the International Tree Foundation.
We will continue to invest in sustainable travel initiatives and encourage our guests to think about sustainable travel options.
Supporting our local ecosystems
Three years ago we started to cultivate our beautiful wildflower meadow directly outside our retreats. Using our zero waste approach, we source plants and seeds destined for landfill from local garden centres. Every year the meadow is expanded and we will start to develop it into our apple orchard.
We have purchased a UK handmade beautifully crafted bumblebee villa to house a full colony of British bumblebees. The bumblebee villa is located in our vegetable garden next to our wildflower meadow.
Every year we purchase a colony with a queen, around 60-70 workers and eggs. Bumblebees are fantastic pollinators and are wonderful to observe at work in and around the garden. The colony has a life cycle of around 2-3 months depending on the surrounding environment and new queens are produced that will then create colonies of their own in the local environment in subsequent years.
By having our bumblebees, we are able to grow more vegetables such as tomatoes that we provide to our guests, therefore reducing the need to purchase from supermarkets.
As we develop our brand, and introduce more accommodation throughout the UK, we’re working hard and passionate about becoming known for our Eco & Sustainable initiatives in UK Travel.
Our work with the local community
Our commitment to sustainability isn’t limited to our own home and business – we’re also passionate about extending this to the local community. From May 2020 - July 2022, I was part of the voluntary East Hertfordshire ‘Waste Warrior’ scheme. We visited local schools and offices to raise awareness about the local area’s recycling practices. I also completed the inaugural Small Business Britain Sustainability Basics Programme back in 2021 and was a sustainability mentor for two businesses starting the program the following year.
We have also extended our learning of composting to our children’s school, where I run the composting and plastics recycling project. All paper gets shredded and fed to the worms and we also collect soft plastics from packed lunches, which will be made into outdoor furniture for outdoor classrooms. Our next project is planting a wildflower meadow to attract more biodiversity into the school grounds and provide habitats for wildlife.