Maggie Watson and Ian Ripper run Wheatland Farm, a ‘conservation with accommodation’ project in Devon (that's one of their cottages in the image above). Wheatland Farm has twice won Visit England’s top award for sustainable tourism (2012, 2015).
Maggie says: “Your voice and choice really counts in greening tourism. So use reviews to share green holiday destinations, but also don’t be afraid to ask for improvements.”
My Favourite Holiday Cottage’s asked Maggie’s advice on ways to find and enjoy a relaxing ‘eco-holiday’ without it proving a chore. Here are Maggie’s top ten recommendations for finding the best cottage holiday on earth -that is also kind to the earth. Suffice to say, the Wheatland Farm eco lodges tick all the boxes!
Holidays should be packed with treasures - sunny memories, fabulous food, and time to recharge
But would you also like to know your holiday didn’t leave a grubby mark on the glorious countryside you visited?
Reduce your environmental footprint on holiday: Here’s ten tips for a greener more sustainable eco holiday for people and planet, all without compromising on the quality and enjoyment of your holiday.
1. Your holiday choice makes a real difference. Picking somewhere with an active ‘green story’ tops a green badge or ‘tick box’.
What does the cottage owners’ social media and marketing tell you? Is this ‘green holiday’ heartfelt, or is it a sales gimmick?
2. Choose service over star ratings. Excellent customer service is more important for a great holiday than luxury bathrooms and ‘free’ hampers. Check what people are saying in reviews -- you don’t need to go ‘high end’ for a really great experience, and your break will probably be lighter on the planet for avoiding holiday bling.
3. Book an owner-run cottage. When holiday cottages are second home investments for distant owners they can hollow out local communities. If your eco-cottage owner lives nearby you can benefit from their local knowledge, and they’ll be on hand to help with any problems.
4. Check for a green policy. “Uh oh. A policy for a holiday! Boring huh?!” But genuinely green holiday cottages will have an environmental policy prominently online. So is a policy easy to find on a property’s website? Find out how kind your eco holiday will be on the environment – it will be anything but boring! Here’s ours!
5. Spot the greenwash. Is your supposedly eco holiday cottage advert or website telling you about vague aspirations, or are there firm commitments and achievements, for example on buying renewable power, cutting waste, reducing water use and nurturing wildlife?
6. Save on the packing and shop when you arrive. Don’t drive a car load of supermarket food across country! Ask in advance about local shops, and maybe order ahead.
Independents are best, because the money tends to stay local. But if you must use a supermarket, at least make it nearby.
7. Could you give the car a day off too? Can your green cottage owner point you to local adventures by bus or train? Do they lend out bikes? Even a local pub lunch becomes a holiday memory by bike.
At Wheatland Farm for example, we are within a short drive of the Tarka Line which runs between Exeter and Barnstaple. The line has brochures advertising circular walks and cycle rides or nearby pubs from stations along the line.
8. Enjoy an off-peak break. You might get your holiday destination almost to yourself. And you’ll be spreading the load tourism puts on the countryside while supporting year-round employment.
9. Treat yourself by eating out and eating local. Genuinely green pubs and restaurants don’t just say ‘we buy local where possible’, their menu will give details on provenance.
Can’t see it? Ask! It’s another advantage of booking directly with the owner – they’ll have the local knowledge.
10 And finally, don’t let your destination go to waste. Ask about and use recycling facilities, including for food waste. Got too much food? Take it with you, leave it neatly for the next holidaymaker, or let your cleaner decide whether to bin it or use it. Don’t leave a holiday legacy of mountainous black bin bags!
Further reading: Let's get you started on Your Search for an Eco Cottage
If you have any top tips for finding an eco cottage in the UK, please add your suggestions in the comments box. Please note that comments are moderated before publication to prevent spam.