We work to educate ourselves and our guests in adopting practices that reduce our impact on the environment. Hosting hundreds of guests a year, we try to minimize our impact on the environment and protect the well-being of guests, residents and local wildlife. Our commitment to protecting the life of all beings as best we can informs everything from our forestry work to the cleaning materials we use. We work closely with local agencies and foresters for guidance on how to maintain the land and resources. Since about 2008, we have chosen only cleaning products which are friendly to people and eco-systems, as well as meeting requirements for commercial/regulation janitorial standards.
Here are the practices we’ve established at PPI since 2004:
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 running on timers .
Electricity – We went solar in October 2016. (see section on ‘Solar Power’).
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.
Protecting local flora and fauna — We have ‘no hunting’ signs in place, and do not allow fishing. All guests are asked to refrain from harming the local wildlife during their stay here. 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.
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 or 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 up to a week, 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.
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. On the rare occasions we need to use disposable dishes, we use compostable items made from bamboo, corn or other fully biodegradable material.
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.
Please support earth-friendly activity by bringing your program to the Black Mountain Retreat Center. Thank you!
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.