Caithness Camping Pods Environmental Policy. A truly regenerative holiday, not just another ‘eco-tourism’ business chasing the green pound.
A regenerative business
Environmental protection and regeneration underpins everything that we do. Many businesses claim to have green or sustainability credentials. All too often, however, businesses simply substitute unsustainable practices for ones that are merely less harmful. Here at Cairn Of Dunn Croft, we aim for more than sustainability. Our business, like the croft, is truly regenerative. We are already one of the most ecologically conscious holiday destinations on the market. By 2027 we aim to be the best in the country, by a wide margin. Your stay with us, rather than just doing less harm, will actually change the world for the better. How many holidays can claim that?
We currently have two pods, with a third due soon and a fourth in 2021. We have deliberately limited the business to four pods in over half an acre so customers are not crammed in next to each other and the land is able to easily absorb their impact. The land surrounding the pods is being transitioned to a mixed permaculture orchard. The trees will sequester more carbon than was produced in the manufacture of the pods and their foundations.
Closing the loop
The toilet is a high end composting unit manufactured by NATSOL in the Welsh borders. It uses no water, utilising chipped wood instead. By 2027 we should be self sufficient for wood chip, closing the loop completely. After a couple of years of operation, the high quality compost produced will feed the orchard surrounding the pods. The toilet utilises an innovative urine separating system that prevents bad smells. The urine is used to grow comfrey, which is harvested regularly to provide fertility to tree crops. Instead of wasting purified drinking water every time you go to the toilet, you will grow trees.
In addition to the orchard, we have planted over 3000 trees and shrubs on the croft. Some produce food for people, some food for livestock, some provide fertility through nitrogen fixation and some are for biomass to provide wood chip and fuel. As well as the obvious carbon sequestration, the trees will also allow us to make the entire croft fossil fuel free and self sufficient for fuel by 2027. Effectively, this amplifies the carbon reduction.
Lowering the impact
We have, wherever possible, sourced materials as locally as possible to reduce the impact of transporting them. The stone that was used for our tracks and paths was quarried two miles to the north of the croft. The pods are manufactured in Bower, 8 miles away, not shipped from halfway across the country. The doors and windows were purchased from a local manufacturer. The pods are framed with sustainably sourced douglas fir and clad with larch grown in the Cairngorms. Larch is a naturally rot resistant wood that will last for generations without needing any chemical treatments.
Cairn Of Dunn Croft is a permaculture site. Permaculture has many definitions, but is essentially a method of designing sustainable, ethical systems that take care of people as well as the environment. We are currently two and a half years into a ten year plan for the croft. If you are interested in the permaculture systems we are working with, our YouTube channel is an excellent place to start. There are links in the menu above.
The propane shower runs on fossil fuel of course, which is a short term compromise. We will switch over the hot water system to one that runs on willow biomass, grown on the croft, as soon as the plantings are producing fully. The alternative to propane is using purchased logs as fuel. In Caithness, the majority of wood fuel is transported here by road as green wood, then dried locally using fossil fuel powered kilns. This is inefficient and unsustainable. Propane is the most efficient short term solution until we are producing enough fuel on site. The willow biomass will also provide 100% of the fuel for heating and hot water in our home.
We have had to use some cement during construction. Cement manufacture produces large quantities of carbon dioxide, a significant greenhouse gas. While the sheer volume of trees we have planted will offset this co2 production many times over, it remains a compromise we feel it’s important to acknowledge.