Black Mountain Retreat Center —
committed to implementing environmentally-friendly practices

Being a green lodging means taking a long-term and comprehensive view of how our resources are used and how our hospitality activity affects the environment. We work to educate ourselves and our guests in adopting simple practices that reduce our impact on the environment.

At Black Mountain Retreat Center, the following practices are well-established:

GENERAL

Recycling — We have a comprehensive recycling program in place, and encourage our guests to participate by using the appropriate containers for any of their recyclable items.

Water conservation — All our bathrooms use low-flow fixtures for toilets, sinks and showers. Guests are reminded of the importance of water conservation. In the gardens, 95% of irrigation is done through soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems.

Lighting — The center uses energy-efficient lighting throughout the property. Staff are encouraged to be mindful about switching off unnecessary lighting and heating, and remind guests to do the same.

Remodeling — Whenever possible, we use recycled or donated products for remodeling parts of the buildings, such as donated paints or office furniture pulled from commercial buildings that are being demolished.

Donating unwanted goods — Any items that we are unable to use ourselves we take to local thrift stores or donation centers.

Supporting green groups — Every year we offer a significant rental discount to the Earth Activist Training program that runs a two-week retreat here, where they focus on training and empowering people in permaculture and sustainable living. We also do whatever we can to support other similar groups, either through work-exchanges or discounts on accommodations.

No smoking — We are a 100% no-smoking center, and have been from our inception in 2004, protecting both the health and well-being of guests and reducing the risk of starting a fire, in an area very prone to wildfire.

Protecting local flora and fauna — We have ‘no hunting’ signs in place, do not allow fishing, and encourage guests to stick to marked trails so as to minimize disturbance to local flora and fauna.

HOUSEKEEPING

Cleaning products — All our daily cleaning products are environment- and people-friendly, and also septic system-safe. Public health regulations mandate the use of bleach/chemical sanitizer for certain aspects of dish-washing in a commercial kitchen — apart from this all our kitchen products are environment-, septic system-, human- and animal-friendly.

Paper products — Paper towels and toilet paper are either 100% recycled, or Green Seal-certified, which means they come from factories committed to resource conservation and minimizing their environmental impact.

Sheets and towel reuse — Guests choose from bring-your-own linens or using our in-house linens. Guests using our linens are given one set for their multiple-night stay, saving on water, detergents and energy.

Laundry — All laundry products are environmentally-friendly and whenever possible we dry laundry outside to reduce energy consumption.

Pest control — There is a strict no-killing policy in place at our center. We use only humane traps and natural products such as essential oils to deal with insects or rodents, and we ask all guests to refrain from harming the local wildlife during their stay here.

KITCHEN / GARDENS

Food purchase, processing and disposal — We buy fresh and bulk as much as possible to minimize packaging and our kitchen staff are trained to process and cook food so as to avoid wastage. Most meals are vegetarian/vegan (raising meat requires far more land and water than raising plant proteins). Left-over food goes into one of three streams — compost, chicken-food or waste.

Appliances — As old fixtures such as fridges and freezers break or wear out, we replace them with energy-efficient models.

Food service items — We use durable and reusable tableware, glasses, cups, dishes etc as opposed to disposable. When we have hosted events for over 250 diners, we use compostable dishes and cups.

Composting — Several composting bins process different types of waste — household and landscaping.

Gardens/grounds — Organic products and permaculture principles are used for the vegetable garden. We try to encourage native species of flora, and reduce the impact of invasives. We do not use chemicals to treat plants or areas of the property — the prolific scotch broom and fire-safety clearance zones are managed by hand and machine, with considerable effort.

What we are working towards:

Heat conservation — Some rooms have old windows of low quality. We plan to gradually replace those windows, as finances allow, to improve insulation in those rooms.

Solar power — While many solar-power programs and incentives now exist, they are not necessarily viable for a low-budget non-profit. We periodically review what’s available to see what we can incorporate into our center’s infrastructure. Hopefully solar power will be an option for us within the next five years!

and whatever else we can do — feel free to share your suggestions and tried-and-tested methods with us!

For ideas about ‘greening’ your home, school, or workplace, you can visit sites like treehugger.

For information about training in a vision and strategies for a greener, kinder world, visit Earth Activist Training.

Please support earth-friendly activity by bringing your program to the Black Mountain Retreat Center. Thank you!