Sustainability Policy

Brigit’s Garden mission and values

Brigit’s Garden is a values-driven social enterprise and registered charity on an 11-acre site in Roscahill, Co. Galway. We offer a range of services and activities in the areas of environment, education, and tourism.

It is our mission to offer Brigit’s Garden as a place of connection with nature, beauty and Celtic heritage, and as a resource for education, reflection and creativity.

Sustainability is at the heart of our ethos. Our values include:

  • Recognising that nature and biodiversity have intrinsic value
  • Promoting biodiversity and nature conservation
  • Operating Brigit’s Garden in an environmentally sustainable manner
  • Operating with ethical business practices
  • Promoting respect, fairness, and equality in our dealings with staff, customers, volunteers, suppliers, businesses and organisations, neighbours, and community
  • Offering a warm, welcoming hospitality experience
  • Creating space for people to connect with the place and nature as they wish

What is sustainability?

Sustainability is defined as ‘Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’, United Nations 1987.

Sustainable tourism is defined as ‘Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities’, UNWTO, n.d.. We follow this definition and aim to reduce our negative effects and increase our positive impacts.

We recognise that sustainability is a journey of continuous improvement and continuous learning. This policy outlines how we approach sustainability and the process of monitoring, feedback and change. 

Responsibilities for Sustainability

Board of Trustees
  • Responsible for the governance of Brigit’s Garden as a charity and a company
  • Responsible for strategic planning. Sustainability is one of four pillars of our Strategic Plan for 2022-23 (with Education, Wellbeing and People and Place)
Sustainability lead
  • Overall responsibility for implementing and monitoring the Sustainability Strategy
  • Advises the Board and staff with regard to sustainability
Staff green team
  • Responsible for implementing the Sustainability Strategy in their areas of work
  • Feeds into the process for annual review of this policy

 

Our Sustainability Policy has two main strands:

Strand 1

To offer education, information, and engagement in relation to nature, sustainability and the environment to visitors of all ages, and to inspire people to make changes in their own families and communities.

This means that we:

  • Offer engaging, mainly outdoor education programmes for primary and post-primary schools, youth groups and teachers in nature connection, environment, and sustainability.
  • Deliver energy workshops in schools on behalf of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.
  • Provide high-quality information and interpretation to all visitors on nature, Celtic heritage, sustainability, and renewable energy.
  • Offer nature-connection activities for all ages, for example Forest School, nature meditation and Forest Bathing.
  • Offer visitors the opportunity to spend time in a natural environment and connect with nature as they wish.
  • Include elements of environmental education and nature connection in our special events for families, young people and adults.
  • Offer QQI validated courses up to Level 6 on environmental subjects (due to start in late 2022).

Strand 2

To operate Brigit’s Garden in as sustainable a manner as possible
2.1 Minimise our carbon footprint
  • Measure our carbon footprint using Climate Toolkit 4 Business, and re-measure it annually
  • To identify measures to reduce carbon emissions and add a target reduction each year
  • To measure our annual carbon removal on site (tree growth, meadows etc) by a recognised method
Targets and actions 2022
Target reduction of 5% in carbon emissions and measures to take to achieve this.
 2.2 Reduce energy consumption and use renewable energy
  • Measure our energy consumption on a quarterly basis
  • Set an annual target for energy consumption
  • Use renewable energy where possible:
    • Generating electricity on site through solar PV panels, with some battery storage
    • Purchasing additional electricity from SSE Airtricity, which provides 100% renewable energy
    • Using biomass boiler for hot water and space heating
    • Identify any appliances using non-renewable energy, e.g. gas or petrol and plan to replace them
Targets and actions 2022
Target of 7% reduction in energy consumption
2.3 Minimise waste and plastic use
  • Measure and record waste production on a monthly basis
  • Deal with waste according to the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle
  • Minimise the use of plastics in all aspects of operations, and find replacements for any remaining single-use plastic items
  • Minimise use of single-use items such as take-away containers and cutlery, coffee cups and water bottles, and ensure that all single-use items are compostable and/or recyclable
Targets and actions 2022
Target to reduce landfill waste by 5%

 

2.4 Reduce water consumption
  • Monitor water consumption on a 4-monthly basis (from Irish Water bills) with the aim of achieving measurable reductions
Targets and actions 2022
Target water consumption reduction of 10%

 

2.5 Support nature and biodiversity
  • Operate our Habitat Management Plan to support nature and biodiversity in key habitats:
    • Wildflower meadows – maximise plant and insect diversity through annual mowing and raking, ensuring spread of Yellow Rattle Rhinanthus minor to keep grasses in check, keeping soil fertility low.
    • Old woodland areas – keep some areas free from visitors to preserve the spring flowers in the ground layer.
    • Planted woodland areas – remove briars to encourage establishment of ground layer plants, use seed saved on site to help this process. Encourage natural regeneration of shrub and field layers.
    • Hedgerows – cut hedgerows minimally and away from the nesting season, allow some hedgerows to spread naturally. Specific management of blackthorn areas for the Brown Hairstreak butterfly
    • Lochán and ponds – occasional mechanical removal of excessive water-plant growth in the lochan, hand removal of blanket weed from smaller ponds as necessary, ensuring good habitat for newts and invertebrates.
  • Implement the recommendations in the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, including:
    • Planting pollinator-friendly plants in the Celtic Gardens
    • Maintaining the wildflower meadows as above
    • Protecting a significant nesting area for solitary burrowing bees in the Lughnasa garden
    • Implementing ‘don’t mow, let it grow’
    • Having ‘We’re buzzing’ signage to encourage visitors to implement ideas at home
  • Monitor biodiversity on site with the assistance of local experts

 

2.6 Use environmentally friendly products
  • Ensure all products used in the following areas are environmentally friendly where possible: cleaning, kitchen and wash-up, office paper and printing
  • Use only organic and environmentally friendly gardening products (pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers)
  • Ensure all gardening compost is peat-free
  • Minimise the use of paper in the office and in marketing, all office paper to be FSC certified and/or recycled paper
  • Source products from local producers, within 50km, or otherwise Irish products where possible
  • Source products that have a certified eco-label as per ecolabelindex.com

 

2.7 Social responsibility
  • Social responsibility is at the heart of our ethos as our charitable mission is to be a resource for the community for education and the environment
  • Promote health and wellbeing for our staff and visitors: offering nature connection in a tranquil natural environment, Forest School for children and Forest Bathing walks for adults; offering weekly meditation and seasonal reflective events; providing good quality healthy food in the café
  • Support local charities and community organisations e.g. provide free passes for other charities’ fund-raising events, provide an annual contribution to Roscahill Tidy Towns for the maintenance of the village
  • Provide facilities at low cost for community groups such as scouts, yoga classes, group meetings
  • Commit to ethical purchasing for the Café and Gift Shop, and to prioritising local (within 50km) suppliers where possible, followed by Irish suppliers
  • Offer concessions on admissions etc for unemployed, seniors and families with the option for people to make a donation instead of paying the set price
2.8 Responsible sustainability marketing
  • We ensure that our marketing around sustainability is clear and honest with no greenwashing, and that all information is based on fact and can be backed up by examples and statistics
  • Creating website, e-newsletter and social media content that reflects our commitment to biodiversity and sustainability
  • Set up marketing partnerships with other eco-tourism providers to offer eco-tourism options for visitors
  • Integrate our sustainability message into all aspects of operations, including gift shop items and café menu options.

 

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