Pentillie Castle challenges sustainability in hospitality

Reducing waste, particularly single use plastic, and recycling has been weighing heavily on all our minds this year – especially since David Attenborough drew our attention to the huge impact that plastic waste is having on our oceans, and thus on all of our health and wellbeing.

At the start of the year we decided with forthcoming outdoor events looming and the prospect of visitor numbers increasing that we really needed to action a plan for reducing our waste here at Pentillie and particularly single use plastic. We really needed to get rid of those flimsy plastic pint glasses and single-use water bottles!

After much research and a bit of common sense we realised that investing in eco cups needed to be our first major change in how we operated our event bars, and with this change we knew we would be setting the standard for all future events at Pentillie big or small.

With only 6 weeks until Defender Day, our first outdoor event of 2018, we put together two designs, one of the Pentillie Castle Events logo, and another, a sketch of the Castle commissioned specially from local Tavistock artist David Mather. The designs were sent off with our order to Branded Cups who we would highly recommend – their service was friendly and efficient, and their cups of great quality and clever design (we particularly loved the ‘steps’ in the base of the cup ensuring that they stack without getting ‘stuck’ together!).

We then implemented a successful deposit scheme for the re-usable cups. Customers paid an extra £1 for their first drink, and they could then reuse it all day (or swap for a clean one at any time!) but at the end of the day they had the choice to either take the collectable cup home to reuse, or return it to the bar to get the £1 back.

But it didn’t just stop at the cups, the other main contributors to plastic waste were water bottles and food packaging. So, we encouraged all our food vendors to reduce plastic waste and serve food in sustainable recyclable packaging with wooden cutlery and recycled napkins. We also set up free water stations so that all visitors could refill their own bottles or cups.

We also provided many more bins and clearly labelled them for general waste or recycling – we were super impressed that so many visitors made a conscious effort to put their rubbish in the correct bin!

Now with two major events with visitors in the thousands – Defender Day and Pengrillie BBQ Festival, several outdoor theatres with visitors in the hundreds and smaller corporate functions under our belts, we can now say that the changes have been a huge success and extremely rewarding – so far this year we have reduced our event waste by more than 60%.

Here’s a summary of other steps we have taken to improve our sustainability this year:

At PenGrillie, on the 15th July, our kids play area was run by the committees of our local Pre School and School in aid of the respective schools. They organised eco-friendly crafts and activities, turning ‘old school’ activities on their heads by swapping glitter and sequins for feathers, flowers and leaves at their ‘make a festival headdress’ workshop. Sweets were sold in old-fashioned paper bags, and by raiding the villagers recycling bins for old jam jars, and putting a shout out on social media for unwanted small toys they came up with a ‘recycled toy tombola’. It was a huge hit – an innovative way to recycle plastic toys that may have otherwise gone into landfill, and all the children were delighted with a brand new toy! One man’s trash is definitely another man’s treasure!

We also teamed up with The Devon Charcoal Company in the weeks before the event to produce charcoal for the BBQ teams to use. They brought their charcoal making ‘retort’ to Pentillie and spent a week turning estate wood into the most fabulous charcoal – super sustainable and super local. We were delighted when Ali from The Devon Charcoal Company named it the ‘Pentillie Special’!

Another local craftsman who has been taking advantage of the estate woodlands is Steve Coonick from Koos Furniture. Steve was looking for Cornish Oak to make a bench for The Kurt Jackson Gallery in St Just, and discovered one of our beautiful oaks gently drying out at UK Hardwoods in Devon. The resulting bench now sits in the centre of the art gallery and makes a very comfy spot from which to admire Kurt’s work. It was a real treat to be invited to the opening night of the exhibition and not only see the beautiful bench that was created but also to talk to Kurt about his art and find out that he spent a lot of time painting in the Tamar Valley.

We were so impressed by Steven’s talent that we thought it was only right to commission him to make us a much needed new coffee table for the Castle drawing room.

Looking further into reducing our plastic waste we have moved from individual bottles of toiletries to larger refillable bottles of the delicious St Kitts Herbery products. We are also considering how to remove the single use toothbrushes and razors from bedrooms without leaving our guests short – how about an ‘honesty cupboard’ selling sustainable ‘spares’ e.g. bamboo toothbrushes and fabric shower caps?

Those that hire the Castle are all encouraged to re-use and recycle. For example, the film crew who are on-site for some of this summer now have water stations to refill bottles rather than plastic water bottles. And they have segregated rubbish bins on set too!

If you have visited recently you may have noticed the drive looking a little ‘hairy’ recently. We are not being lazy – it gets ‘trimmed’ every week! It is our very own wild flower garden to make sure we provide a habitat for bees, bugs, creepy crawlies and particularly the ‘charms’ of gold finches that swoosh out of the grasses as you drive past. Once the flowers have set seed ready for next year (September time) the drive will get cut properly and made into hay!

We are incredibly proud of our efforts and are very conscious that we have set the standard for not only our future events, but also our day to day running of the Castle.  We also hope that we can encourage other businesses to be like-minded. Thank you to all of you who have helped support us in our mission to reduce waste so far.

Find out more information on future events at Pentillie

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