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Booking.com's 2021 Sustainable Travel Report affirms a potential watershed moment for industry and consumers, it found that 83% of global travelers think sustainable travel is vital, almost half (49%) still believe that in 2021 there aren’t enough sustainable travel options available, and 53% admitting they get annoyed if somewhere they are staying stops them from being sustainable, for example by not providing recycling facilities.

As individuals with a 'grá' for nature and the great outdoors, as well as the parents of two young children, we believe passionately in the importance of protecting our natural environment. Simply taking a stroll anywhere around Lough Mardal is a continual reminder of the wild beauty of nature that surrounds us and how precious it is. Watching the life cycles, the synchronicities and interdependencies instils a sense of wonder and the humble recognition that we ourselves are inseparable from nature.   

Someday soon hopefully green tourism, or ecotourism, will simply become standard tourism. As a new tourism-provider we know our responsibilities. We do not claim to tick every sustainability box but little by little we are trying to offer a more responsible holiday experience to the ever-increasing number of people who, like us, now wish to holiday...and live...more concientiously.  

 There are many ways in which we here at Lough Mardal Lodge try to do our bit;

  • The Lodge building is an eco building constructed almost entirely with natural materials with minimal impact on the environment; locally sourced timber was used for the frame and roof, the external walls are made from straw-bales and the internal walls were made of cob (mud, straw & water mixed together - one of the oldest building materials on the planet). In essence the building itself is almost biodgradeable - when the time comes. Buildings constructed with straw-bales & cob, such as the Lodge, offer exceptional energy efficiency thanks to their natural thermal mass and passive solar design.  

  • All sewage and waste water from the Lodge is processed through a natural reed-bed and wetland system, an eco-friendly method for harnessing natural ecological processes for the breakdown of the organic matter in wastewater.  

  • There is an electric car recharging point at the Lodge for guests to use free of charge

  • There are water-saving tap fittings on sinks and water-saving flushing mechanisms for toilets

  • Our electrical supplier is Energia whose energy is 100% renewable produced from windfarms.

  • A renewable source of energy is used for hot water and heating via an air-to-water pump system. The energy utilised is free and eco-friendly and contributes to a reduction of CO₂ emissions.

  • The yurt platforms were built using recycled tyres and the wooden flooring is upcycled old wedding marquee flooring, danced upon many times in its previous life! 

  • 9,000 native broadleaf trees have been planted on the land to create a new native woodland,  increasing local biodiversity and off-setting carbon emissions generated by the business.  

  • We try to be as low waste as possible and as part of this we request that guests do not bring any plastic bottles or one-use plastics onto the site. We ask guests to separate and recycle as much waste as possible in the bins provided in kitchen. All food waste is composted and used on our organic vegetable garden. 

  • We harvest our own pure well water which runs from kitchen taps. Large glass bottles are provided which guests can re-fill during their stay.

  • We use energy efficient lighting and appliances. Much of the lighting in the Lodge is operated by motion sensor to avoid lights being left on unecessarily.  

  • We help the pollinators by adopting the 'Don't Mow, Let it Grow' approach - apart from some winter grazing by livestock and light strimming of public walkways the meadows surrounding the Lodge are all left to fully grow and blossom during the summer and are never mowed. We are signed-up members of the All-Ireland Polinator Plan with National Biodiversity Data Centre. The Lodge eco building also has a 'living' grass roof alive with all the grasses and wildflowers that were excavated from the earth around it when building the Lodge. In the vegetable garden we also allow certain plants to go flower in the early spring, eg kale, instead of cutting it down so that the pollinators can feed on them when there are still few other sources of nectar available at that time of year.

  • We grow our own vegetables in an organic garden, no weed-killer or pesticides are ever used and only our own organic compost and manure is used to fertilise the soil. Our additional food needs are, as much as possible, locally sourced and organic. 

  • We try to promote environmental awareness and are continually sharing the wonders of our precious bogland. As part of this we keep an online Nature Diary which is updated with sightings of various wildlife and the numerous plants and wildflowers that grab our attention throughout the seasons.

  • We keep free-range hens which produce very tasty organic eggs! 

  • Books and information about the natural environment as well as methods of natural building are available for guests to read in the Lodge.

  • We use all natural eco-friendly firelighters made with wood-chippings and recycled wax instead of conventional firelighters in all the wood-burning stoves in the yurts and Lodge.

  • Our purchasing policy is, as much as feasibly possible, organic and biodegradable, cruelty-free and Irish sourced. Guest toiletries are by The Handmade Soap Co. an Irish company and cleaning products Lillys & Bio D are all bought in bulk refill containers.

  • We adhere to responsible office practices, eg minimal printing, printing double-sided pages, printing on recycled or FSC approved paper, recycling ink, sourcing ethical supplies and computers turned-off or to put to sleep when idle.  

  • We restored a ruined and abandoned traditional Irish old stone cottage that was on the land, which is now a workhop - preserving our cultural heritage 

  • We are a small working farm with rare breed Dexter cows and are currently in the process of registering with the The  Organic Trust for official organic status. No chemical fertilisers, nitrates or pesticides have been used on this land.

  • We support our local community by creating employment and promoting all the local area has to offer including tie-ins with other businesses, eg surf packages with Finn McCool's surf school in Rossnowlagh. Horse-riding with Donegal Equestrian Centre. The thick tweed blankets in all the yurts were handwoven by Studio Donegal.  The curtains are made with tweed from Magees. The meat in our BBQ and breakfast packs is all locally sourced from Donegal artisan butchers Eddie Walsh & Sons

On a final note, Rhododendron grows wild at Lough Mardal. Although beautiful when flowering in May it is an invasive species and unfortunately thrives at the expense of native plant species here, eg the heather and mosses. It also attracts many important pollinating insects away from the less showy native plants.  As such it has a devastating effect on the local biodiversity.  Rhododendron spreads with such voracity we need all the help we can get in managing it. So if you're out for a walk and pass a young sapling (of which there are many) feel free to pull it up!  Every little bit helps!