We moved to Burnside Cottage, in October 2018, because we fell in love with the clean, wild open spaces of the far northern highlands. We had, for some time, found it increasingly difficult living in a busy city down south. When we found Burnside Cottage it looked like the ideal place for us to create a new, more sustainable, life & business.
We believe in sustainability, living ethically, and simply being kinder & more natural in our lifestyle…. where possible (we always know there is more we could do and we hope to get there in time). We believe in recycling, upcycling & donating. Anything we can really to minimise our impact. We are lucky to live in an amazing part of the world with a wealth of, often endangered, birds and wildlife….and we want to do what we can. We’re kind of modern hippies but without compromising on luxury and comfort! Stephen is an artist (photography & wood carving) & Kacey is a vegan who loves growing & cooking food (but don’t worry, she is comfortable cooking ethically reared local meat).
We therefore knew that we would be turning Burnside Cottage into a kinder, more sustainable, business. We are very proud to have achieved the Gold Award from Green Tourism in March 2022. This is our journey so far & our plans for the next stage…..
The Property & Energy
Since taking over the property in 2018 we have started to replace our old exterior doors & double glazed windows with more modern and efficient ones. This is a work in progress as we have lots here at Burnside Cottage! We have also sealed more draughts than we can count (Caithness wind will find any holes, and there were plenty here) & added 2 further layers of insulation to all roof spaces that we can access. We have replaced our hot water tanks with more efficiently insulated ones. We have also replaced ALL lighting with LED lighting and have exterior lighting, where suitable, on timers.
We have just added a solar array to the property to enable us to generate much of our electricity and hot water (at least spring to autumn). Our electricity supplier for the rest is Octopus who supply 100% green energy from sun, wind, and water. The current main heating in Burnside Cottage unfortunately is via oil, however, all radiators are now fitted with modern thermostatic valves and we supplement this will additional electric heating which we have further plans for….
All white good purchased since the move have a high energy rating and we use induction hobs, and a more efficient airfryer where possible.
We try to conserve, collect & use less water around the property. In our bathrooms we have aerated shower heads which use 50% less water whilst giving the same powerful shower experience. We also have dual flush toilets throughout. We are lucky to have excellent drinking water & supply glass bottles of tap water in our guest fridges. We use all leftovers etc to water our house plants. We have also begun installing butts and tanks to harvest rain water for our salad and herbs.
Produce & Food
We believe in ethically reared & locally sourced produce, where possible. We are lucky to live where we do as we have a wealth of excellent meat and fish producers to choose from. Here are some of our favourite suppliers;
Berryhill Croft (via Red Neck Meats Ltd) – Finest Caithness Outdoor Reared Pork provide us with our sausages, ham, bacon etc.
Cairn Hill Farm – A family business in Caithness who rear Organic Dexter Beef provide us with our steak, burgers, mince and beef products.
Caithness Honey – Caithness Honey & Wildflower Honey
Caithness Smoke House – An award winning cottage industry which provide us with our Smoked Salmon and Trout. All locally sourced from sustainable local supplies.
Eggs – Currently from several local neighbours (we have many to choose from!). All small scale free range birds.
Bird & Wild Coffee – Organic, fairtrade, shade grown, bird friendly coffee. Supporting the RSPB.
Clipper & Kingdom Coffee – This fairtrade supplier provides us with our guest suite Tea, Coffee & Sugar all of which are compostable and/or biodegradable.
Fruit & veg – unfortunately, we cannot find a reliable supply of locally grown fruit & veg. We do however currently grow most of our lettuce and tomatoes and aim to expand this much further.
Cleaning, Toiletries & Extras
Iron & Velvet – We use Iron & Velvet water soluble sachets for our cleaning sprays. All eco friendly, vegan, cruelty free, zero waste and low carbon.
Peace with the Wild – We use Peace with the Wild for all of our Laundry Products. Eco-friendly, vegan, cruelty free, natural, non-toxic & palm oil free.
Ecover / BioD – We use Ecover, & will be switching to Bio D, for our toilet cleaner & washing up liquid. Eco-friendly, ethically sourced, plant based.
Ecoleaf – We use Ecoleaf dishwasher tabs. Biodegradable, vegan & cruelty free, using sustainable palm oil & eco-friendly.
Who Gives A Crap – Provide our Toilet Paper & Tissues (100% Recycled Toilet Rolls & Forest Friendly Tissues). WGAC donate 50% of their profits, are B Corp certified for environmental impact & provide carbon neutral shipping.
Handmade Eco Soaps – A small company based in Inverness provide our guest soaps & conditioners. These are all handmade eco-friendly, vegan, Palm oil free….. smell delicious and lovely to use.
Vegware – To label our soaps & Conditioners (which we buy in large loaf sizes), along with some of our food items etc we use Vegware labels. Water based & compostable.
Waste & Recycling
We have a private cesspit and as the soak away drains into the burn we are very careful to avoid putting any strong chemicals in them. We asks guests to be mindful and to only flush toilet paper.
We recycle everything possible! It can be complicated for guests to know what should go where…..and we want our guests to be relaxed on holiday. Therefore, we don’t provide a selection of recycling bins but be assured we are sorting it and depositing things behind the scenes. The council take our cans, paper, and cardboard, we compost some paper and card along with our teas, coffee, eggshells and vegetable scraps etc at the property. We take our glass to a depositing facility.
During autumn 2021 through to 2023 we have the following plans….
On our recently purchased adjacent land we will be creating an allotment to grow much of our fruit and vegetables.
We will be building a further polytunnel / greenhouse to grow more of our salad, tomatoes and herbs.
Chickens!! We will be developing a Chicken house and area so that we have our own free range eggs
We will be installing water containers to supply water for the allotment & polytunnel.
We will be further enhancing wild plant and flower spaces around the property.
We will be adding Owl & further bird houses around the property.
We will be adding bat roosting boxes to further support our resident bats.
We will be adding a further solar array to further supplement our energy supply and moving to electric intelligent heating in guest areas.
We will continue with our window upgrades, with more planned for 2022
We will be creating a larger composter along with a dog waste composter (this one will just be for our non-edible plants)