Going Green: Veganuary & Doing Our Bit for the Environment

There was a time when being vegan or vegetarian and doing your bit for the environment was quite hippy and bohemian. Not any more, it’s gone mainstream and is top of the agenda grabbing headlines across the globe. So, what are our vineyards, gardens and attractions doing for our small corner of Sussex? You might be surprised at how much is going on!

Bolney Wine Baa about Sustainability…

Bolney Wine Estate definitely has ambitious plans for the future with recent investment in a new wine making facility that has the potential to see production increase to 500,000 bottles eventually. However, hand-in-hand with these grand ambitions, they are committed to building and strengthening their sustainable practices throughout the estate.

They have embraced the installation of solar panels on their new winery and across their main building, cafe and office. These produce enough power to run some specific production processes, as well as their labelling operations, and help reduce reliance on the national grid by an impressive 30 per cent!

They have also adopted a number of energy saving production methods to minimize power usage in the winery and have even just introduced sheep into the vineyard, to reduce the need for mechanized maintenance under the vines.

The use of very lightweight boxes means that they are able to re-use about 25% of their boxes as they deliver direct to many of their customers.  Talking to Production Manager, Alex Rabagliati, he said “We have no alternative but to practice what we preach as I sit on the Wine GB Environmental Sustainability Working Group, which is tasked with developing guidelines for the UK wine industry as a whole.”

These sustainable credentials have also seen the estate launch an English vermouth using the surplus grape juice from production.The fortified wine was created by Alex and managing director and head winemaker, Sam Linter. Sam was keen for Bolney to

branch out and create new and exciting products in its drinks range whilst still remaining true to Bolney’s wine making traditions.

The English vermouth is made using botanicals from the nearby South Downs, as well as sloes and elderberries found within the vineyards hedgerows. The abundance of sloes and elderberries would have normally gone to waste each year but Sam and Alex paired these with the surplus grape juice so ensuring that nothing is wasted in the wine making process!

Gravetye Manor Have it Wired ….

Nestled in the heart of Mid-Sussex and tucked away down a quiet lane near West Hoathly, is the idyllic setting for the beautiful  Gravetye Manor Hotel. It’s probably not the first place you’d think to look for an electric car charging point. However, if you are lucky enough to be visiting or staying at the hotel, you can indeed charge your electric car using one of their two EV charging points. One for Teslas next to the Manor House and one in the restaurant car park with a tethered Type 2 connector. Speaking to Celine Leslie, Director of Sales & Marketing, I asked her about the investment in the electric car charging points in their hidden away part of Sussex “This is not simply a nice to have and a case of us paying lip-service to going green, we absolutely must offer this service to our guests and they look to us to provide it”

Veganuary at Borde Hill Garden & South Lodge Spa ….

On a visit last summer to Borde Hill Garden, I was intrigued to discover in their shop a recently introduced range of vegan products – The Goodeehoo Vegan range of bags and notebooks. So, what is Goodeehoo all about? Well, they believe, their products are ‘Trends that Turn Heads’ and since the owl is the only animal that can turn its head 270 degrees and in Welsh ‘owl’ is ‘Gwdihw’,  they decided to go with the phonetic spelling – Goo – Dee –Hoo for the company name! Goodeehoo is owned by a husband and wife team who are passionate about both stationery and gifts that are not only beautifully designed but also affordable and vegan friendly! So often when you think of vegetarianism and veganism you think purely about food but if you are truly to embrace this way of living it needs to extend to your clothing, shoes and accessories and up until now it has often been difficult to find attractive and quality alternatives for leather shoes and bags. Speaking to Andrew Loin, Visitor Experience Manager at Borde Hill Garden, he said that “The range had attracted a lot of interest and that they had sold well and that they would be looking to increase the range this year to include a greater range of bags, accessories and stationery.”

Sticking with the vegan theme, I was also interested to hear that the Spa at South Lodge Hotel offers a relaxing vegan facial using their ‘radiance range’ created with botanically sourced ingredients derived from nature that are said to inject goodness and nourishment into the body and skin. The facial products used, which are both Eco friendly and Vegan, include subtle notes of vanilla and white flower to delicately cleanse and hydrate the skin, as well as pure coconut oil that provides a deeply relaxing face, hand and arm massage.

The Spa at Ockenden Manor Hotel also partner with the luxury vegan skincare range, Elemental Herbology which combines natural botanicals with innovative technology. Elemental Herbology, which is based on the Five Element Theory from Traditional Chinese Medicine, is described as having the pursuit of good health, nutrition and wellness at its core and be packed with nutrients designed to give you a natural radiance.

I don’t know about you but I’m relaxed and ready to go vegan just hearing about it!

Wakehurst won’t Waste It ….

Wakehurst is already widely recognised for their pioneering science and commitment to preserving the world’s plants for future generations through its state of the art Millennium Seed Bank. However, it is not just in the big, obvious ways that they are doing their bit for the environment. It is in the numerous smaller,unseen initiatives that you realise sustainability and the environment inform all their decisions and run through everything they do – from waste disposal to recycling and use of recyclable materials in their restaurant, cafes and shop.

Of all the general waste produced on site at Wakehurst, up to 62% is recycled and the remainder is incinerated for energy recovery with the residual ash then reused in the building industry. Impressively, no waste goes to landfill. All the plant waste heads to be composted at the onsite Compost Corner and then reused in the gardens.They also have a partnership with a company that specialises in the collection of food and biodegradable

waste from commercial kitchens. They collect all the food waste Wakehurst produce on site and transport it to an off-site anaerobic digestion plant or composting facility. It is then transformed into fertiliser and energy which is supplied to local farms, helping grow fresh, local and sustainable produce. This eco-friendly cycle sees their food waste become nutrient-rich soil and then next season’s produce!

Wakehurst are also striving to become 100% free of single-use plastic in their restaurant and cafes. Most of their food packaging, takeaway cups, plates and cutlery are already made from Polylactic acid (PLA), which is fully biodegradable, recyclable and made from renewable materials such as corn starch or sugar cane. Their takeaway coffee cups are 100% recyclable and visitors are encouraged to bring in their own reusable coffee cups to reduce single-use cups.