Being eco-friendly is one of our core values here at Swift House Inn–not just on Earth Day, but year-round. We are proud to be designated as a “Green Hotel in the Green Mountain State” and hope to continue finding more ways to run an earth-friendly hotel. Here are seven of the ways we practice sustainability at Swift House Inn:
Locally-Sourced Food in the Kitchen
At Jessica’s, much of the food comes from Vermont producers. Ledgend Farm, Blue Ledge Farm, Little Seed Coffee, and Cobb Hill Cheese are a few of the Vermont vendors that we use. Some of the food even comes from Swift House Inn’s own garden! We want our restaurant to have high-quality food that reflects our values, which means getting the best local food we can.
Recently, Chefs Rob and Micah went out into the forest to harvest young ramp sprouts. These plants, also called wild leeks, are similar in flavor to onion and garlic. When harvesting, Rob and Micah make sure to only pick the leaves of the plant, leaving the bulbs in the earth so that they can regrow. It can take years for a ramp to mature, so it is crucial to maintain the existing bulbs in order to protect the species.
Efficient Energy Management System In Guestrooms
Heating and cooling systems can create a huge toll on the environment if sustainability isn’t prioritized. That’s why we use an energy management system that preserves energy when the room is unoccupied. The guestrooms are equipped with an occupancy sensor that detects a person’s heat signature. When there is no one in the room, the sensor lowers the thermostat set point in the winter and raises it in the summer. The system is triggered by the opening of the guestroom door when the guest returns.
Reduce Food Waste by Repurposing Scraps
Did you know that 30-40% of the food supply in the US ends up in landfills? At a restaurant, it’s inevitable that some food will go uneaten, but it doesn’t need to go to waste. That’s why we donate our food scraps for repurposing. How do we do that? The kitchen disposes of all non-meat food scraps in a bucket. We then give these buckets to the folks at Smith Family Farm, where they use the scraps to feed their pigs! AnnaJo Smith of the Smith Family is also a cofounder of Vermont Food Collaborative, a “farmer-supported food market” that features all Vermont products. We love supporting Vermont’s local food system.
Switching to Compostable Coffee Pods
Coffee pods are incredibly convenient, but the plastic pods can create lots of unnecessary waste. That’s why we made the switch to Tayst pods. They are the first biodegradable single-use coffee pod; instead of sitting in a landfill for years and years, they can be composted just like other food waste. They taste delicious, come in a variety of roasts and flavors, and can be used in a regular Keurig machine. We hope our guests enjoy the Tayst pods as much as we do–consider trying them in your machine at home!
We believe that cleanliness = luxury. We want Swift House Inn to be meticulously clean and well-sanitized for the comfort and safety of our guests, without sacrificing our value of sustainability. That’s why we incorporate a number of eco-friendly practices into our cleaning processes.
For starters, we use as many eco-friendly cleaning supplies as we can. We purchase our individual hand soaps from Vermont Soap, an organic soap company on Exchange Street here in Middlebury. They prioritize sustainability in their soap production, and we love their ethos as much as their soaps. We donate the used soap bars to the Clean the World Hospitality Program, which recycles leftover soap and gives it to communities in need around the world.
Some states are in the process of banning single-use toiletries in hotels to reduce plastic waste (e.g., mini shampoo/conditioner/body wash bottles, etc.). Swift House Inn was an early adopter of bulk shower dispensers, the eco-friendly alternative to single-use toiletries. These are far more sustainable and convenient than throwing away dozens of plastic bottles a day.
NORDAQ Water Purification System
One of our current sustainability projects is installing a new water purification system called NORDAQ. This will allow us to produce our own filtered bottled water for guests. The system uses refillable glass decanters which are sealed with a recyclable aluminum cap. Doing so eliminates plastic bottle waste and the energy required to ship bottled water to the inn. The system should be in place by this summer.
Serena’s Organic Garden
In addition to being an expert playlist-curator, dedicated dog-owner, and marketing extraordinaire, owner Serena Kim is also an avid gardener. In the spring and summer, you’ll see her tending the garden beds that are between the Main House and the Carriage House. The garden is filled with colorful vegetables and flowers and is entirely organic. Serena even starts the seeds by planting them in old toilet paper rolls! We use the herbs and vegetables at Jessica’s, and Serena and Matthew also use them for their home cooking.
These are seven of the ways that Swift House Inn practices sustainability. Hotels can create a lot of waste, but we actively try to combat that by prioritizing the environment in our decision-making. Other things we do include using LED lightbulbs, high-efficiency boilers, and recycled products. Hopefully, you learned something new about Swift House Inn or discovered new ways to be eco-friendly. Let us know if you have other methods that you use to stay green!