From the huge, ever-changing sky to the wonderfully weird starfish and anenomes on the sea floor, Tanera keeps on inspiring.
As a family we are passionate about nature; not only because it is beautiful (and strange and amazing) but also because its fascinating intricate web of interactions keeps the world going round. So we feel a need to look after it, and we do all we can to reduce how our actions impact both our island home and the wider world. We also want to act in a socially responsible way, particularly as consumers, to do what we can to redress the economic and social imbalances felt all over the world.
A lot of our guests share these feelings and are grateful for our efforts to reduce the ‘ecological footprint’ of their holiday. Other people might not have got round to thinking about these issues yet, but we hope that they will leave Tanera with a new sense of responsibility for this wonderful world.
Here is a summary of the steps we are taking so far:
- We encourage and facilitate waste recycling, with separate bins in the holiday cottages and the café.
- We use phosphate and chlorine free soaps, detergents and cleaning products, and reduce the use of chemical cleaners where possible.
- We recycle furniture through Blythswood Care.
- We use low-energy light bulbs wherever practical.
- We endeavour to keep the houses well insulated and draft-proof.
- We supply renewable fuel for the wood-burning stoves in the holiday cottages.
- Where possible we use energy-saving or low-energy devices in the houses; any new appliances we buy are low-energy.
- Our paper marketing materials are recycled and printed using vegetable inks. We use recycled paper products in the office, minimise printing and re-use paper.
- We use recycled paper products in the kitchens and bathrooms
- We serve only Fairtrade and Organic tea, coffee and snacks in the café and on our courses.
- With the livestock industry contributing more to the greenhouse effect than transport (source), and three quarters of world fish stocks fully exploited or overexploited (source), we have reduced fish and animal products on our menu in the café and on our courses.
- Where possible we use food and drink that is organic and / or sourced locally: we can help guests to source langoustine and scallops from our friends on the mainland.
- We use local suppliers and services where possible. Visitors can support the local shop in Polbain by ordering a box of provisions to be delivered on arrival (see Holiday Lets).
- We support local charities, and work with a Natural Heritage Group in Coigach on the mainland.
- We support the work of several conservation charities, and promote their work to our guests too (the Marine Conservation Society and John Muir Trust for example).
The local environment
Bill and Jean have planted over 160,000 native trees on the island since they arrived, hoping to recover the native woodland habitat that was once prevalent in the highlands. Many of these are still rather small; be careful of them - and your ankles! - when you are out and about on the island. (Read more on the Island Wildlife page).
We minimise the use of harmful chemicals when caring for our many boats and equipment, and minimise the use of those boats too.
We have two docile old Highland Cattle steers to graze certain areas of the island, maintaining diverse habitats for plants and animals, and producing valuable fertilizer for our vegetable plots whilst they’re at it.
But it’s not all easy…
Being on an island, we don’t have the luxury of switching to a ‘Renewable Energy’ tariff with our supplier; we must generate our own electricity here on Tanera. We are currently reliant on diesel generators for our power, kerosene for heating and gas for cooking, and the heating systems in some of the houses are on the elderly side. Alternative energy generation systems are expensive and finding the right answer to our needs is not straight forward, but we are investigating various systems and looking for the right combination.
In the meantime, the generators run as efficiently as possible: storing surplus energy in large batteries, allowing the ‘gennie’ to switch off automatically, saving fuel and giving us some peace! Because we have to transport all our fuel across the sea, we make great efforts to reduce our usage. And one day we hope to replace the quad bike that transports luggage the cottages with a well-trained highland pony...