Business Advice

Are you making eco claims? Take a leaf out of these sustainable businesses’ playbooks

- May 25, 2023 4 MIN READ


In an era where greenwashing is rife, consumers are starting to dig a lot deeper when assessing a business’s real green credentials, writes Jen Clark, founder of Hosting With Heart.

And nowhere is this more prevalent than in the tourism industry, which – in response to increasing consumer demand for more sustainable, environmentally considerate stays – is starting to see a real influx of independent accommodation owners and hosts shouting their business or property’s ‘eco’ features from the rooftops.

The short-term accommodation directory and soon-to-be booking platform that I founded last year, Hosting With Heart, aims to keep these owners and hosts accountable by requiring them to meet a baseline set of sustainability and accessibility standards to list.

No longer is a couple of solar panels and a compost bin enough to claim ‘sustainable’ status. It’s about having an operational and personal ethos deeply rooted in all aspects of sustainability and manifesting through multiple ongoing initiatives and features at that host’s property.

Choosing sustainable, green, eco-friendly house

Here’s a selection of some of our listed member properties that are really leading the way in terms of a genuinely broad range of environmental credentials:

Girragirra Retreat, Forbes, NSW

From its name – Girragirra being a Wiradjuri word meaning to ‘be well, be happy, be merry’ – right through to its clever passive design, sustainability was a priority for owners Wendy and Kim from day dot.

This two-bedroom, two-bathroom property catering for up to six guests boasts minimal, low/no VOC furniture and finishes, an extensive food-based garden with abundant native tree and shrub plantings, and on-site composting of all green waste. Girragirra also has Wildlife Refuge status.

Boketto, Brooms Head, NSW

Core to the design process of Boketto, a strikingly designed four-bedroom, two-bathroom house based in Brooms Head on the North Coast of NSW, was provenance and heritage.

Owners Katie and Matty used local tradespeople and suppliers wherever possible to build the house, and ensured the place was correctly oriented to provide passive heating and cooling.

Central to the property’s aesthetic is the use of an abundance of recycled and repurposed timber, made even more durable in parts by using a beautiful, age-old Japanese wood preservation technique called Shou Sugi Ban.

The house also features a solar hot water system, with the couple planning to install photovoltaic (PV) and battery power in the future.

Collombatti Cottage, Macleay Valley Coast, NSW

This stunning, modular / prefab rainwater and renewable energy powered two-bedroom, two-bathroom cottage was built locally offsite and then transported on completion to its home in Collombatti, on the northern NSW coast.

With sustainable design principles deployed throughout the build, the resulting property boasts an array of performance-enhancing features such as double-glazing, use of a worm-farm septic system, an all-electric power infrastructure, a double-filtered 110,000-litre water tank and ample breezeways for maximising ventilation.

From a day-to-day perspective, owner and host Kelly always aims to minimise and reduce waste, opting to use brands that value circularity, such as Zero Co, and making her own range of personal care products that ideally eliminate the need for any single-use plastics.

The Ridge House, Yarragon, VIC

The Ridge House is a sensitively-restored four-bedroom, two-bathroom house located on 50 acres of pristine, private bushland in the idyllic country hamlet of Yarragon, VIC.

The house, which only uses electricity, is surrounded by picturesque farmland producing grass-fed cattle and garlic. It operates on tank water, a septic system, and enviro-safe toilet paper.

Host / owner Kristy carefully sources amenities and food stocks from independent, local suppliers, including the property’s organic bath products. Provisions for recycling and composting have been made, and Kristy works hard to ensure single-use plastic is minimised if not wholly avoided.

Wallaringa Farm, Wallaringa, NSW

Wallaringa Farm is an idyllic three-bedroom, two-bathroom farmhouse located in the heart of the NSW Hunter Valley.

Along with ensuring that rainwater was harvested for use, host and owner Jordana approached the design and build of the house with the intention of sourcing materials as locally as possible (some of which were secondhand or unwanted) and employing local tradespeople.

Her approach also led to sourcing an array of secondhand furniture, glassware, books, records, reusable baskets and shopping bags for guests to use – which, aside from being more sustainable options, also vastly enrich the property’s character.

The Blak Shak, Sunshine Coast, QLD

The Blak Shak, a single-bedroom property based in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland,  is the perfect getaway for couples or solo travellers.

From the word go, hosts Emily and Adam aimed to make the Blak Shak as ecologically friendly as possible. Cleaning and bathroom products are mindfully chosen to be environmentally friendly, and single-use items are avoided at all costs.

Rainwater is the property’s sole water source (carbon-filtered and UV treated), and on most days, the property only needs solar power to operate comfortably.

Sewage is processed onsite through a septic waste treatment system, and guests are always reminded to be conscious of their environmental footprint during their stay.

WATCH KBB TV: How to be more sustainable in your business

Being more eco-friendly is a work in progress

The common feature with all of these hosted properties is not that those managing them are doing things perfectly regarding minimising their environmental footprint, but that they are trying to do as much as they can wherever they can – and striving to learn along the way.

At its essence, this is what Hosting With Heart is all about – celebrating effort as much as results and embracing the art of knowledge-gathering. This is a philosophy any business owner or individual wanting to do better for the Earth must first and foremost wholly embrace.

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