14 Dec 2021
Hopefully, you've already read Home Setup: Think LOCAL! Part 1, and are ready for Part 2 on how to think LIKE a local. As always, we're happy to answer questions and give feedback for your specific home - just reach out.
Now that you’ve spent your budget on fun locally made and inspired items, let’s talk about “thinking” like a local. There are a handful of issues that most of us, West Sonoma County folks, agree are important and worth long and deep conversations. They tie into vacation rentals as part of the hospitality and tourism industries and as individual homes. How these apply to each home is different, so this is a conversation starter.
Such a broad subject, so let’s take it down to some manageable chunks. How can vacation rentals promote sustainability or reduce waste?
- Energy and water efficiency are two starting points. Using programmable thermostats (some have occupancy sensors and with turn the heat down if no one is in the house) not only reduces wasted electricity and propane, it saves you money! Being very mindful of leaks, drips, irrigation systems, and using water-efficient appliances also conserve water (a very precious commodity) and keep your water bill in check. When purchasing new appliances, look for the Energy Star rating.
- We also encourage owners to purchase supplies in larger to reduce packaging and use fewer larger plastic containers (vs many more small containers). When the office provides supplies, we purchase the largest containers. For example, shampoo and conditioner are required in each bathroom. While you can stock mini bottles of each – like a hotel – we highly recommend getting Costco-size versions instead. Guests won’t accidentally take these home, and they use so much less plastic! We purchase septic-friendly, higher recycled content, toilet paper (that’s still soft) and other recycled content items whenever possible.
- Is your home a candidate for an electric vehicle charger? Not only is this great for the environment, but it’s also awesome for marketing your home!
- When remodeling, are recycled or reclaimed materials an option? Reclaimed wood is beautiful and often has a history worth sharing, and salvaged fixtures – often updated for efficiency or new electrical standards – lend character to a home. Repurposed items also bring historic and/or eclectic touches that are unique to your home! Consider the Insta-worthiness… And, yes, antiques/vintage items are a form of reuse!
- Are there other ways your home can be eco-friendly?
Wildlife and habitat conservation
For starters – when planning your yard, look for native plants! Not only are they better suited to our wet winters and dry summers (drought resistant once established), they feed birds, bees, butterflies, and other critters. Avoid invasive plants like ivy, vinca (periwinkle), and French or scotch broom. While bamboo is fantastic for natural privacy screens, keep it in containers or research non-invasive varieties. Most landscapers are knowledgeable on this subject and we love CalFlora Nursery in Graton for plants and information.
Preservation of the culture and honoring the history of the area
This might sound daunting, but it’s doable! And we recommend starting with getting to know your neighbors and exploring the community. Get friendly with folks living here year-round and acknowledge they may not be thrilled by the increase of vacation rentals in the neighborhood. Assure them that you plan to be a good neighbor and have a local management company that also cares about the neighborhood and community. Supporting local non-profits is another great way to help sustain the familiar “feel” of the area. And, we facilitate donating nights at your vacation rental for fundraisers. Consider memberships to regional organizations in the name of the house. For example, purchasing a regional park pass for guests to use each year funds the park and guests enjoy the pass! Join the local Chamber of Commerce and list the house’s page on our website for the contact information – thus supporting the Chamber in addressing local issues and promoting your home.
It’s tempting to use Amazon Prime and online shops, but when you can, spend money locally. When you’re at the house, eat at restaurants and drink at coffee shops. Talk to people. We know you probably do anyways – it’s why you bought a home here – but, every time you work with a local company, spend money in little shops, or choose to do business with someone in person, you are investing in this community through jobs, taxes, and human connection.
The Take Away
Have you noticed that offering certain amenities is both sustainable and marketable? Many of our suggestions help your home in more than one way. That’s because being eco-friendly is attractive to guests as well as saving you money and the environment. Using native and pollinator-friendly plants in the garden is good for the critters & your pocketbook, and tells a story worth sharing. Purchasing locally produced food items for the house is good for the local economy AND memorable for guests. When woven together, sustainability, culture, featuring local information and items, a nod to area history, and other unique features of your home create a very attractive “product.” And one that guests will want to come back to year after year – reinforcing their excitement with friends and family, spreading word of their excellent vacation and your vacation rental.
If you need suggestions for your home, let us know! We’re here to help!