I’ve taken most of this week off for an arguably well deserved break and I’m currently drifting on a small wooden fishing boat just off an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Unfortunately the above is a slight exaggeration. In reality I’m staying with my in-laws an hour away from my home town of Edinburgh. I’m currently watching drizzle run down the windows of our little holiday cottage. Still at least I saved some CO2 by holidaying locally. Also, it is a lovely little place just by the sea. Yesterday the sun even came out briefly.
However, it occurred to me that the business of renting out a cottage involves the potential for waste. It very much depends how cottage owners inform their guests about the recycling opportunities during their stay. Having received nothing obvious about this from our cottage owner, I looked at the notice board by the kitchen and found only take-away menus and a 2006 bus timetable. I even went to the effort of looking at the wheelie bins to see if anything on them might provide a clue. In one of the bins I found a plastic bag from the local authority which said “place plastic in here for recycling”. A good start, but I still have no idea where to put cans, cardboard or glass bottles. I may have to put them in the same bin as the plastic and hope for the best.
Should holiday-home owners even take responsibility for the treatment of waste on their property or does it fall on the people who pay to stay there? I tend to think it’s a shared responsibility and that owners should at least make clear where recycling can be carried out. After all without that information any well-meaning guests are left to fend for themselves.
Thinking about it, it’s probably only a small percentage of business waste overall, especially compared to the construction industry or manufacturing. But it all adds up. On a related issue I launched a new pilot campaign called Waste Aware Tourism last year. Focussed specifically on tourism within the Cairngorms National Park, I arranged to have a page added to all the bedroom folders asking tourists to recycle during their stay. I also contacted many of the local businesses (via the Cairngorms Chamber of Commerce) to ask them to consider setting up recycling facilities and many of them were very willing to oblige. Unfortunately not all materials are easily recycled in the area (plastics again) which was raised by some of the businesses. Also, for small tourism business, the costs involved with paying for kerbside recycling can be prohibitive. I understand that some local authorities will treat these businesses as households and allow them to use the kerbside recycling service accordingly. Perhaps we should try to get agreements of this type across Scotland to help smaller businesses recycle more types of waste.
That’s a discussion for another day. I’m going back to the jigsaw puzzle…