While government legislation is necessary to help mitigate the damage sustained through global warming, it’s wrong to think individuals can’t make a difference. Like other concerned businesses in the hospitality sector, a publican in North Yorkshire is doing everything he can to tackle climate change.

Low-carbon mindset

Rob Davidson, who runs The Station Hotel in Northallerton, firmly believes that if everyone does their bit, no matter how small, it will make a difference. Whether it’s leaving the car at home some days or sticking on an extra jumper instead of turning the heat up, Rob says we can all take steps to reduce our carbon footprints.

Low food miles

three jars of preserves on a table with sign 'happiness is homemade'

‘Locally sourced’ is a phrase often touted about by restaurants and cafés, but The Station takes it seriously. They’re trying to keep food miles as low as possible, which is why their meat, sausages, eggs, cakes, preserves, and fruit & veg are all supplied from Northallerton businesses or others less than 25 miles away. Many of Rob’s suppliers are also customers, so it’s not only community focussed, it’s helping to boost the local economy as well. And it doesn’t hurt that the area is home to some fabulous local producers, such as Langthorne’s Buffalo Farm and Caroline’s Homemade Preserves.

Eco-friendlier alternatives

chips in a brown paper takeaway container

We all know how detrimental plastic straws are to wildlife and the environment in general, but it’s difficult for pubs to ban straws altogether. At least the paper variety are biodegradable, which is what The Station uses. And if you hate the taste of polystyrene when trying to enjoy your hot drink, Rob agrees, which is why he serves his Italian coffee in paper cups. No plastic stirrers either. Paper cups aren’t a perfect solution, leading to some cafés taking the bold decision to stop single-use cups altogether, but sales drastically drop off when they do, as most people aren’t yet in the habit of bringing their own. Clever establishments sell silicone and metal drinking containers in case  people forget to bring one. As all The Station’s food has a takeaway option, Rob will soon be sourcing biodegradable containers from Vegware.com. While polystyrene has a lower carbon footprint than aluminium and plastic, it’s not recycled widely enough, so ends up in landfill. And because polystyrene is light, containers are easily blown around, resulting in litter and marine pollution. Aluminium is recycled, however the energy used to produce the containers renders it one of the worst choices. To read more about the damaging impact of traditional takeaway containers, read this article from the University of Manchester.

Because helping the environment includes helping people, The Station are a drop-off site for Hambleton Foodshare, a charity that provides emergency food parcels to those in desperate need.

To reduce the amount of coal used to heat the pub, The Station burns waste wood that would otherwise end up in landfill. Little steps, but they make a difference. The Station isn’t close to being carbon neutral, but Rob is continuously trying to come up with ways to reduce its carbon footprint – which is what all businesses should be doing.

Wildlife friendly

Bee on forget-me-not flower

The heading isn’t referring to dogs (although welcome at the pub), but rather the bird feeders, bird boxes, and bat boxes that have been installed around the property. Having bats around to keep the midge population down can only be a good thing when you’re enjoying a pint on a summer evening in the beer garden. And with hedges being torn up for housing and fencing, species such as sparrows need all the help they can get to raise offspring. Because the bee population has been declining rapidly, there are wild flowers and other plants to attract nature’s pollinators.

Consumers can force change

While Rob Davidson is deeply concerned about global warming, he also knows the positive PR of going low carbon won’t do his business any harm. One of the most powerful ways to affect change is by choosing greener businesses. You might already be signed up to a green energy company, but it’s important to look more closely at all the organisations you patronise. Is your bank investing in fossil fuels or fracking, for instance? How eco-friendly are the products used by your hairdresser and beauty therapist? Choosing to spend your money at establishments actively reducing their carbon footprints will push other businesses to do the same. Consumers have the power to move mountains, and global warming is one mountain that must be tackled within the next 12 years. Next time you fancy a pint, call in at The Station and say “Cheers” to Rob!