Eco-Friendly Accommodation – How We’re Making a Difference
At Lou Messugo we try to provide as eco-friendly accommodation as possible and do our best to reduce our environmental impact. We are passionate about protecting the environment and believe that sustainable practices are not just an option; they are an absolute responsibility towards ensuring the future of our planet.
Incorporating Sustainable Practices Into Our Eco-friendly Accommodation
To this end we have incorporated as many sustainable practices into our daily running of the gite as we can and are constantly learning and improving. We like to think that our guests appreciate these steps and don’t see a holiday as a time to ignore the environment but actively engage in eco-friendly practices.
Here are some of the ways we try to make a difference:
Heating And Cooling Our Eco-Friendly Accommodation
The underfloor heating and hot water are provided by a heat pump, with the temperature set at a decent but not boiling hot level. This uses less energy to heat the water without reducing comfort. The shower uses a low-flow head to save water but still runs at mains pressure.
The gite does not have air conditioning. This is a conscious decision and not an oversight. Instead we explain how our guests can keep cool indoors naturally during their stay using the traditional niçois shutters and fans.
The gite uses a septic tank which is an eco-friendly way to treat waste. It is self-sustaining for wastewater treatment and disposal and doesn’t rely on energy-consuming treatment plants or chemicals. The system uses natural bacteria to break down waste and returns clean water to the soil.
We dry laundry outside in the sun. Being blessed with a wonderful climate, with 300 days of sunshine a year, washing dries fast on the sun-trap terrace on the clothes airer provided.
Reducing Waste and Recycling at Our Eco-Friendly Accommodation
We are working at reducing waste and are cutting down on as much single-use plastic as possible at our eco-friendly accommodation. We recycle as much as we can and provide a guide as to what can be recycled in the hope our guests will participate in this sustainable practice. Bins are provided to separate packaging, household waste, glass etc.
Travelling a fair amount ourselves we realise that working out what can and can’t be recycled in a strange place where you don’t speak the language presents extra challenges. We find it frustrating abroad not knowing what to do with rubbish which is why we try to make it as simple as possible for our guests to participate in recycling. It is now law in France for packaging to show whether it can be recycled, so you can tell at a glance whether it is or not by the symbol seen below. ”Bac de Tri” means recyclable.
We have a composting system in place encouraging our guests to collect fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee, tea bags and egg shells etc, which get turned into nutrient-rich soil for the garden. This couldn’t be easier as we provide a pretty little compost bin in the gite and offer to empty it ourselves.
You won’t find single use coffee pods at Lou Messugo, but your coffee enjoyment is not compromised as we provide cafetières (or French Presses as they are also known as) for your freshly brewed café. We like to think they actually make the best coffee as there’s nothing between the coffee and the water…no aluminium, no paper, just flavour.
We have recently invested in tempered glass bottles for shampoo, shower gel, hand wash and washing up liquid which we refill from a local bulk-buy shop thus cutting out plastic receptacles.
In a further bid to reduce plastic, we provide reusable shopping bags for our guests, (provided by local businesses).
While on the subject of plastic, one of my pet hates is bottled water and it upsets me how many bottles I see in our recycling bin at the end of guests’ stays. Please people drink tap water and use reusable water bottles when out and about! France has safe, drinkable tap water which impacts the environment way less than bottled water and according to recent research may even be better for your health as bottled water has been found to contain up to one hundred times more nanoplastic fragments than previously thought. We encourage our guests to drink tap water by providing water carafes and can lend water bottles if necessary. This is something we really want to work on with our guests as we move forward.
We use a range of environmentally-friendly cleaning products, reusable/washable sponges and rags made from worn-out bed sheets for cleaning. All light bulbs are low-energy. We have sourced much of the furniture second hand and upcycled/repurposed and renovated where possible. I love giving a new life to outdated furniture with a lick of chalk paint!
Eco-Friendly Garden and Biodiversity
One area at Lou Messugo that has seen change and will continue to change in the coming years is the garden. We built our house and created the garden from scratch. While we mainly planted native species we didn’t pay enough attention to water usage. We put in a sprinkling system and consciously watered overnight to minimalise evaporation but we have come to realise that having large lawns isn’t sustainable in our climate.
There is no doubt the climate here has changed since we built in 2009; we have had terrible droughts for the last few years and water is now a very precious resource. So we have been rethinking what plants we plant and whether to continue trying to have a lawn. To this effect we’ve participated in movements like “No Mow May” leaving the grass to grow long and wild and the effect has been magical.
In 2023 for about 2 months we had a poppy meadow, completely self-seeded! We have now consciously made the decision to have a wilder garden, creating habitats for all sorts of wildlife, encouraging pollinating bees and biodiversity. We have never used any chemicals and consider (most) weeds as attractive self-seeded plants, such as the daisies below and plant with bee above.
The garden attracts a surprising amount of wildlife considering we are in a village. We get red squirrels, pheasants, an impressive variety of birds, fireflies, frogs, geckos, badgers, foxes and wild boars and we love it. We hope you will too. Our website shows lush bright green grass but will be changed to reflect the less manicured approach in due course.
Electric Cars and Public Transport at Our Eco-Friendly Accommodation
We drive electric cars ourselves and provide a plug for charging guests’ EVs, currently free of charge, though we may have to reconsider this as electricity tariffs are increasing hugely in 2024. However, whether we end up charging our guests a small fee or not, the convenience of having a charger on-site is priceless and we like to encourage EV drivers to stay with us.
We also like to encourage guests to use local public transport and provide timetables and advice on how to do so. This area is great for keen cyclists and we can provide maps and suggest scenic or challenging rides. There is an electric bike rental in our village Roquefort les Pins for those who find our hills a bit too much.
Supporting Local Business
Finally, we like to support local business and encourage our guests to shop locally and seasonally. We have a list of farm shops, agricultural co-operatives (including our favourite, Le Marché de nos Collines, in the photo below), markets, speciality stores, organic shops, breweries, vineyards and so on in the gite welcome folder and can suggest restaurants for specific diets and desires.
You might well wonder why there’s been no mention of solar power, living in such a sunny part of the world…. Don’t get me started! When we built our house in 2009 solar panels were categorically not allowed in our village. We weren’t given planning permission with them! I could really rant about this but I’ll try to stay calm. The rules have now changed but only very slightly and we could add some that lie flush with the roof tiles, a super expensive option in an expensive industry. At this stage in our lives this is simply not viable financially, but we live in hope.
Future Plans for Enhancing Our Eco-Friendly Accommodation
Our journey towards sustainability is ongoing, and we’re continually exploring new ways to improve our eco-friendliness and reduce our carbon footprint. Projects and ideas for the future include trying to find a way around the solar panel idiocy, creating a dry garden and collecting rainwater. Watch this space.
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