Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable

 What does it actually mean to run a sustainable business?


Buzz words… that are being bandied about all the time… but having won an award… what does sustainability actually look like here at Pentillie Castle and Estate?


Since David Attenborough and his teams award-winning programme Blue Planet, everyone has finally woken up to the necessity of reducing our reliance on plastic, and being more careful with our waste. But it also begs a more rounded question regarding sustainability as a whole and not just reducing ones use of plastic.  Social media has spread the word, and drummed the Reduce, Reuse,Recycle message home, but alongside this is an underlying movement to be more ERS, (Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable in the wider sense. I take this to mean being kinder – not only to our environment, but also to ourselves.


Even as recently as the 70’s and early 80’s our attitude to waste was still one of frugality and ‘waste not want not’. Granny washed out plastic bags, and re-used tin foil and wrapping paper. Trousers and socks were darned within an inch of their lives, and a jumper was once unravelled to re-knit into something else. We got money back from lemonade bottles, and milk was delivered by electric vehicles in returnable glass bottles. Shopping was carried home in brown paper bags.  Chips were wrapped in newspaper.


So what changed… well firstly we got telly – with 4 actual channels. And our eyes were whipped wide open with the prevalence of new and changing fashions, cars, music and overseas holidays, and we wanted them all!!  And then came the internet and its unswerving insidiousness. And life does feel like it has got faster, more instant, more fake, more replaceable, more disposable.  Much more disposable.  The internet and social media shown through our palm sized smartphones have overtaken telly as our flickering screens of choice, and seem in many ways to blame… like some class A drug drawing us back again and again to the screen in our hand. And that we can have that, and this, and those, and them, oh and most definitely the ones in purple glitter!


But Blue Planet was perhaps the slap in the face that we all needed. Like many, prior to Blue Planet, we did our recycling, and picked up our rubbish.  But did we really think about the cling film in the packed lunch, or the double plastic wrappers on many snack foods – the ultimate deadly snack for an unsuspecting sea bird…


No, we didn’t. Or not enough at least.


Yes, at Pentillie, we had interlined the curtains, and had the heating on a timer system, with dual flush loos and a ‘don’t wash your towel for 3 days policy’.


But it’s taken us longer to realise that the sustainability of all our futures rests in treating everything we do in an entirely holistic manner in respect of safeguarding our futures, our health and the environment. Being kinder.  Reducing our reliance on single use plastics that only have one moment of brilliance on our planet, and instead turning to longer term, more permanent solutions must be a positive step.  But let’s look at the bigger picture of becoming more Ethical Responsible and Sustainable.  Thankfully these are now becoming buzz words alongside the latest fashion trends and snazzy holidays,  although its not certain that Pentillie is going to be chosen as a holiday destination by any trend setting vlogger for the ‘Instagram-ability’ of our recycling bins. Although there’s a thought!


So, Pentillie just won a GOLD award for Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism at the Cornwall Tourism Awards? Yippee, but why, what does it mean for us, and how we will continue to be more so.  And what have we done that makes us any more special than the next sustainably minded business?


Well, by making the castle (& estate) into a sustainable business with a future we have created employment for up to 25 people locally, we have created demand for goods and services from all our suppliers, and by facilitating filming (Sky 1’s Delicious) on the estate, millions of pounds have come into the local economy over the past 3 years. Pentillie’s presence, not to mention that of the TV cameras, and other fabulous local businesses in the area are really starting to put SE Cornwall firmly on the map as a destination within Cornwall.


Notwithstanding bed linen, food suppliers and staff, the Coryton family have also looked at the estate holistically along the journey. From clearing and nurturing the gardens, exploring and foraging the flora and fauna in the fields and woodland, working alongside the Cornwall Wildlife Trust to install osprey nests, leaving the sides of the drive to grow long and then go to seed, to a long-term relationship with Natural England and welcoming school children regularly. We have our eye constantly on the wildlife, the plants, the trees and the condition of the soil.  Thus, Pentillie has developed a its own special kind of micro-climate, and it is one of beautiful serenity!


The ongoing work in terms of restoration and improvement is phenomenal and what has been achieved is remarkable given the building itself, the huge estate and the limited resources in delivering some costly projects.  There is attention to detail with a clear sense of understated quality throughout. Gardens and grounds are immaculate and stunning even the clear demarcation of what is left to go wild and what is manicured. It is a clever mix and marriage of the formal and the wild.“ Cornwall Tourism Awards Judges comments


We also endeavour to look after our team, as without them we have nothing. We pay more than the National Living Wage, we offer training and apprenticeships where appropriate, we encourage the team to get out and about in the gardens during Wellness Wednesday hour, we celebrate success and continue to learn every day.


And we have tidied up our act… we have reviewed (and are reviewing) our suppliers sustainability policies, we have a compost bin in the staff room, we are conscious of where our plastic wrappers go and we are trying to be kinder – to each other and to ourselves.


The restoration of the castle into a thriving business has cost money, labour and effort – which has had the effect of encouraging careful thought to where everything has come from and where it is going.  Neighbourliness is another part of country living, if beef, or soap for example, is being produced locally, why wouldn’t you support that enterprise?


And why should we be buying things simply to throw them away, not to mention paying for the waste disposal too? If you reduce the waste and re-use what you can, you reduce cost, enabling improvements to be made elsewhere in the business.


We still have a long way to go to be perfect, but we are trying. We don’t get it right every time either and we are still learning where we can compromise, and where we still need to try harder.


At the end of the day, the castle has been here for 321 years in the pristine green environment of the Tamar Valley AONB. Our ancestors looked after it so that we could be lucky enough to call it home.  Our duty is to make sure the castle is still standing in the pristine green environment of the Tamar Valley AONB in another 321 years. Let’s do our bit. It makes sense.


We were delighted that our work on making Pentillie a more Sustainable business was recognised in the 2019 Cornwall Tourism Awards with a GOLD award for Ethical, Sustainable and Responsible Tourism

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