Environmental Policy

Mission Statement

We love our island and do our utmost to maintain its culture and traditions. We love to share our knowledge about the island.

We believe that tourism is vital for the future of Inishbofin, as a way of giving income to locals and for sustaining the fragile population.  We hope it will encourage our young people to stay on or return to the island.  But we don’t want tourism to destroy the unique beauty and culture of Inishbofin. That’s why we believe ecotourism is the way forward for our business.

For many years we have been involved with conservation on Inishbofin.  In 2000 we set up the Inishbofin Conservation Initiative (Link to Inishbofin Conservation Project page) to fund small local conservation schemes, such as dune conservation, tree planting and removal of invasive species.

Since then we have been actively involved in corncrake conservation, such as setting up the Meadow Restoration project with the Birdwatch Ireland corncrake field worker to encourage farmers to grow more hay meadows, the traditional breeding habitat for corncrakes.

We have been members of Bird watch Ireland and Irish Wildlife Trust for many years.

In 2008 we ran our first birdwatching tour. Pleased with the response, we have added new tours every year.  We have been improving our environmental practices every year.  We see Ecotourism as the way forward for our business, so we can continue to grow in a sustainable way, while sharing our beautiful island with others.

We are working to improve our environmental management systems. Waste in particular is a big issue on an island, everything which comes in on the boat must be used or sent out again. We think suppliers should take back their packaging, at present this is not the case. We are in the process of looking for suppliers who will do.

We recycle all our paper, plastic, cans, tins, bottles, glass and batteries.

Our hotel has environmental impacts in the areas of energy, waste and water, but we try to reduce these in the following ways:

Waste

We reduce, reuse, recycle

  • We reduce waste by buying in bulk.
  • We reduce waste by serving ketchup, mayonnaise, sauces, jams and butter in reusable containers.
  • We are in negotiations with the food suppliers off the island to reduce the amount of packaging they send in to the island. We propose to provide our own containers for wholesalers to transport our deliveries in, thus minimising packaging coming to the island. We hope other businesses will follow our example.
  • We have reduced our food waste from the dining room by making portions smaller and offering second helpings.
  • Vegetable waste goes to a local pig farmer or is composted.
  • We harvest our own herbs and salads which reduces wastage.
  • We recycle all of our plastic, paper, cans, tins and glass, batteries
  • We only print if necessary, on 100% recycled paper, two sided printing on a new energy saving printer.
  • We provide information in the bedrooms about recycling, issues of waste management on an island and marine pollution, 2 Minute Beach Clean, Carbon Offsetting.
  • The hotel has a sewage treatment plant Bord na Mona Waste Water Treatment Plant Platinum Acorn inspected twice yearly by a qualified inspector. Discharge water from this is pumped up to our nature area behind the hotel where we are encouraging the natural reed bed system to expand. This provides a rich environment for many species of birds.
  • The self-catering cottage has a sewage treatment planta Bord na Mona 12 Module Waste Water Treatment Plant, inspected twice yearly by a qualified inspector.

Every year we hope to increase our recycling. To achieve this we will have recycling bins in the hotel for guest use. We sell refillable water bottles from the restaurant and encourage customers to use these rather than disposable plastic bottles.(which we do not sell.) The proceeds from these will go to Inishbofin Conservation Initiative.  We are considering purchasing a commercial composting unit for all our food waste, napkins and paper towels.

In late 2015 all the major drinks distributors started phasing out returns of empty bottles so these will have to all go to recycling now. This seems a major step backwards and is something I think we should lobby the companies about. Coca Cola started this and Diageo and others are following suit.

Water

Our water comes from the mains supply derived from the island reservoir.

For the 10 months from 28/11/ 2013 to 8/10/2014 we used 622 units.

In the 12 months from 8/10/2014 -19/10/2015 our water consumption fell to 598 units.

We are continuously working to reduce our water consumption in the following ways:

  • Most of our bedrooms have showers, not baths.
  • We try to reduce the amount of washing by reducing number of pillows and offering customers the chance to reuse their towels. For longer stays we only change the bed linen twice weekly. We don’t use tablecloths.
  • We will install a rainwater collection system for watering the vegetable garden. The main garden does not require watering, even in summer.
  • We make guests aware of water conservation by information folders in bedrooms.

Energy

  • The design of the hotel maximises passive solar heating so heating costs are kept to a minimum. For the same reason, there is no need for daytime lighting in most of the building.
  • 10 Solar panels provide all of the hotel hot water needs in summer for bedrooms and kitchen.
  • Our self-catering cottage has 3 solar panels and has a B1 energy rating.
  • The hotel is insulated to a very high standard with 120 mm Kingspan insulation at groundfloor level, 225 mm fibreglass in first floor, 150mm Rockwool insulation between hotel bedrooms, 120mm Kingspan in the roof.
  • We use LED lighting throughout the hotel and cottage. We try to reduce the amount of washing by reducing number of pillows and offering customers the chance to reuse their towels. We don’t use tablecloths.
  • We purchase washing and drying machines which are A energy rated.
  • We used recycled local stone in the construction of the front of the hotel and cottage.

Use of detergents /disinfectants

We have recently started using Lilly’s Eco Clean cleaning products in all areas of the hotel and our self- catering house, and are very happy with their products. We chose this company because it is Irish so we are supporting Irish jobs and reducing transport impacts.

Green Purchasing Policy

  • We grow our own herbs and salads and use local fish and vegetables where possible.
  • We purchase Fairtrade teas, coffee and sugar. We don’t use disposable cups/plates/cutlery
  • We only use recycled paper and envelopes. We get our ink cartridges refilled in Galway. All marketing is done online and we have a booking engine on our website.
  • Low energy bulbs are used throughout the hotel.
  • We use environmentally friendly Lilly’s Eco Clean cleaning products in all areas of the hotel. We buy in bulk to save packaging.
  • We consider the environment when making purchasing decisions and we try to use suppliers who try to minimise their environmental impact.

Impacts on biodiversity

We don’t use pesticides or herbicides on our garden. We use organic peat free compost in our vegetable garden and we let it go to seed in autumn to provide feed for wild birds. We have bird feeders and bug hotels. Our tours follow Leave No Trace principles and Minimal Impact Birdwatching and Hillwalking codes.

We try to minimise the impact of the hotel on the local environment. We have set aside an area of ground behind the hotel which was previously barren after building work finished.  We have planted approximately 100 native Irish trees which provide useful habitat for birds. This is very important as there are very few trees on the island.  We also have a bird feeding station in this field. We have cleared areas of rushes and planted oats to provide winter feed for autumn migrants and overwintering birds. Several rare birds have been spotted here, including rare Arctic Warbler and Siberian Chiff Chaff which were seen here in autumn 2015. We are also creating a small wetland area here. Every year we are making small improvements to increase the biodiversity of this area.

We subscribe annually to the Irish Wildlife Trust and Birdwatch Ireland.

We have set up a voluntary visitor payback scheme to channel funds, through Inishbofin Conservation Initiative, into local conservation projects such as tree planting, creating early cover for corncrakes, sowing winter oats for birds and eradicating invasive plants.

We participate in the Inishbofin Clean Coast clean up annually. We also promote the 2 Minute Beach Clean to our guests.

Through our Ecotourism Ireland training network we are participating in creating a Biodiversity Action Plan for Inishbofin to protect and enhance the unique biodiversity of the island.

Pat Coyne, owner and manager of the Dolphin Hotel, has completed a FETAC Level 5 Introduction to Organic Production course and the new GLAS (Green Low-carbon Agri-environment Scheme) training in environmental practices and standards.

Together with the Birdwatch Corncrake Field Worker, he set up the Inishbofin Meadow Restoration project, to encourage farmers to grow hay meadows, important for corncrake habitat. He has volunteered on the dune restoration project many times and during the terrible storms of 2014 he donated 2 diggers and a dumper to the work to save the North Beach and the lagoon of Loch Bo Finne.

Jackie Jefferson, in charge of our Green Team, set up the Inishbofin Conservation Initiative. She has a Diploma in Environment & Development, has completed Conservation Volunteers Ireland (CVI) Leadership Training Course and won the Conservation Volunteers Ireland Environment Award in 2000 for the Duach Beach Dune Conservation Project.  She is also a veterinary surgeon with a postgraduate veterinary homeopathic qualification and has completed Wildlife Rehabilitation training and Marine Mammal medic training.  She has travelled twice to India to volunteer with an animal rescue charity and currently supports a local animal rescue charity in Connemara.

Anthony McGeehan our bird and photography guide, has worked for RSPB in Northern Ireland, with many years of experience in creating habitats for wildlife. He is a superb bird photographer, published author and a recognized authority on birds. He records important bird data on Inishbofin, and is constantly striving to create and improve habitats to enrich biodiversity on the island.

Carrying Capacity

The maximum number on any of our tours is 15. This means

  • less disturbance to wildlife, no problem with path erosion, and less impact on SPA/SAC or sensitive habitats
  • less disturbance to local people, no large groups walking on the road or on private land
  • better access to guide, everyone can hear, see, get to look through the scopes, giving better quality interpretation, and a more intimate holiday experience

Transport  

We use a diesel minibus for collecting guests from the ferry. It is hard to practice minimal impact driving on a small island, but we do try to keep it maintained and tyre pressures correct to improve fuel efficiency. Our tours are all done on foot, as we feel this is the best way for our guests to connect with nature.  We also encourage guests to hire bikes from King’s Bike Hire next door.

We live beside the hotel so we don’t need to drive to work. The staff house is also right next to the hotel.