The Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy said, “In every action we take, we should consider the impact on the next seven generations”. How different the world would be if everyone practiced this. Though we can’t force responsibility on others, we can lead the way, creating an example for them to follow.
Here at Tanglewood, we take the Iroquois’ words seriously and make every effort to live as lightly on the planet as possible. In addition to living together as a group, this requires fewer resources per capita than if we lived separately. We look for every opportunity to eliminate wasteful and polluting behavior in favor of more environmentally sound choices. And it turns out that there are numerous places we can make better decisions.
The building is furnished with natural materials. Ceramic, natural stone, and untreated tiles cover most of our floors. Our furniture is constructed of solid wood, rattan, wicker and sea grass. In the living room furnishings are covered with organic cotton upholstery. Conventional cotton is one of the most harmful of all domestic crops, using one third of pesticides consumed in America.
All cleaning products used here are non-toxic, natural products. There are no toxic chemicals in the building, or used on the grounds.
In the laundry room, we wash our clothes together to minimize the number of loads, and use a super-efficient front-loading washing machine, using two thirds less water (and soap) than a top-loading machine, and requiring less time and energy to dry because of a much faster spin cycle. These machines are also much gentler on fabrics, which mean clothes, linens, and towels last longer – a plus for the environment. We wash virtually everything with cold water.
In the Kitchen, we cook nothing, and save the energy we would need for this practice. We also buy little, if anything, in packages, recycle everything we can, including paper, cardboard, plastic and glass, and compost all food waste, returning it to the soil as nature originally planned. We use cloth napkins and towels instead of paper. Finally, all food purchased locally is grown in its native environment in the jungle without the use of chemicals. This eliminates poisons from the food and our bodies, as well as the soil, and waterways, and the bodies of all the other species who rely on these ecosystems.
In the office, we minimize paper use by relying on e-mail correspondence as much as possible. All of the paper we buy, including our card stock, office paper, envelopes, and writing tablets, and toilet paper is 100% recycled. Again, all waste paper is recycled.
Our shower curtains are cotton canvas rather than vinyl, (one of the most toxic of all household materials, dangerous in both manufacture and in use in the home.) Guest towels and linens are all 100% organic cotton. The soap we use and provide to you is 100% plant-based, containing no chemicals of any kind.
Lighting throughout the building is provided by compact fluorescent bulbs, providing roughly four times more light than similar-wattage incandescent bulbs, and lasting up to 10 times longer.
Outside, we’ve eliminated much of the original lawn and have planted 100’s of climate-appropriate perennials, shrubs, and trees, needing no watering and little care once established. These plants create far more oxygen than a yard full of grass. Small engines are far more polluting than large ones, creating up to ten times more pollution per hour than an automobile. Here we rely on the machetes of our gardener Guillermo and his crew to keep our grounds beautiful.
We attempt to live according to the principles of Ahimsa, the Sanskrit word for harmlessness. We prefer humane methods to eliminate any pests, and do not purposely kill anything. Bugs in the house are trapped and released outside. Though they are often hidden, Tanglewood knowingly use no animal products, choosing not to benefit in any way from the death or suffering of any other species.
We don’t use air-conditioning. The cool mountain air is fresh and clean. We find that when people eat a physiologically-appropriate diet, they maintain a lower body temperature, and don’t have any problem with the heat.
We live comfortably, and are committed to your comfort too. We’re also committed to the health of the planet, and of every living thing on it. One need not sacrifice to make more environmentally and ethically sound and healthy choices.
As our guest, we ask for your assistance in this regard; you can help make a difference here by following the guidelines below.
- Except for the few that we leave on in public rooms, please turn off lights, fans, and any other appliances when not in use.
- Please unplug any personal appliances that use transformers, when not in use. These little “wall warts” constantly draw power, even when the device is turned off.
- Please recycle all paper products.
- Please minimize time spent showering and do not leave the faucet running while washing up or brushing your teeth.
Please feel free to let us know if you have other suggestions for operating in more environmentally sound ways. We’re always looking to improve in any way we can, and appreciate your compliance while here. Thanks again for your cooperation. Together we can make this a better world.