A guest post by Alexandra Grabbe.
My husband and I have been green innkeepers on Cape Cod since 2004. The name of our B&B is Chez Sven, and our blog is Chezsven Blog: Wellfleet Today.
Over the years, we have learned to target green guests, who care about the environment, turn out lights when they leave a room, and recycle plastics, cardboard, and glass.
Unfortunately, not everyone who visits has this mindset. We have had a number of eco-conscious guests born in the USA, but the majority come from abroad: England, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, The Netherlands. I am always fascinated to hear about a country’s recycling policies and expectations for eco-travel.
I think Beth would like living in Germany, where the municipality makes recycling easy. There are bins on street corners in major cities. They have it down to a science, according to German guests, who never fail to separate out paper, cardboard, and plastic before leaving their rooms here at Chez Sven. (For total detail on German recycling policies, go here.)
I am equally impressed by Great Britain. Our British guests care about the environment, worry about carbon footprint, and expect everyone to recycle. In fact, recycling has become second nature to them. Even cash register receipts find their way into the pile of paper beside the waste bin.
Yesterday I told the British couple here now about my hope to shift our whole town green and non-toxic. I described my total distaste for plastic bags and how I always thank local shopkeepers for asking whether I want a bag, rather than automatically placing my purchases in flimsy plastic, so detrimental to nature and the environment. I explained where to find the recycling bin, which we sponsored this year, at the marina. I said my recent attempt at buying 1000 original ChicoBags to distribute at our tenth annual Oysterfest, mid-October, had failed because the Discover Wellfleet sub-committee has no more money to invest.
Overnight, Liz had a brainstorm. She was eager to tell me about it at breakfast this morning.
“I’ve been having a think about your campaign in town. You could get a local artist to design a bag, or have a competition. Have you heard of Cath Kidston? She had four designs. People like collections. And they are really pretty bags and these were affordable. I know the shopkeepers can be skeptical though. They need to say, if you use my shopper in my store, you will get a discount. Or engage them, by buying into the scheme.”
Her husband Ian broke in, “I have it all figured out. What you need to do is have TWO bags, and leave one in the car.”
“Marks and Spencer adds a charge if you need a plastic bag,” Liz continued.
Such enthusiasm is typical of our British guests. If only Americans were as gung-ho about protecting the environment! While we were having this conversation, I was imagining myself, standing out at the intersection of Main and Route 6, over Oysterfest weekend, with a huge sign:
DID YOU REMEMBER YOUR TOTE?
From being an innkeeper, I have learned there are truly all kinds of people when it comes to the environment. From the Scottish family who arrived on foot with backpacks and hiked everywhere, rather than rent a car, to the uninformed, who do not think to separate their trash, we get them all. Sometimes what people need is a little push. So, I will suggest they turn out the lights when they leave a room. I tell them we recycle and explain why it’s a good idea. I point to the canvas totes available for use while here. Gently, I nudge them in the right direction. That’s all anyone can do.