Sustainability at Willows
One of our many sustainable practices at Willows is the re-use of natural materials. This not only adds to the charm and Northwest ambiance of Willows, but it also plays a role in helping the environment. Gracing the entry drive is the burned-out shell of a 1,500 year-old cedar.
The valley was originally a forest of huge cedar trees that were logged over 100 years ago. Twenty foot or taller stumps were left because the flared bases of the trees were too big to haul to the mill. Snags like this one were a common sight. The "Willows Snag", brought here from the Olympic Peninsula, is a tangible and dramatic reminder of that past.
When you walk into Willows Lodge, you’ll see our front doors are made from old wine casks. And that’s just the beginning. The main structure of the Lodge is created with Douglas fir timbers, which were cut 100 years ago and used to build the Port of Portland, Oregon. When the Port buildings were torn down the timbers were saved for another life, here at the Lodge. They have notches, bolt holes, and other reminders of their prior use, but have been smoothed and waxed to enhance the natural warmth of the wood. Fine grained ash wood was used throughout as the counterpoint to the rustic fir. Even our guest room tables are recycled slate pool table tops from old bars in British Columbia.
Environmental Stewardship has been a company-wide objective since the Willow Lodge’s inception. There are a number of measures we have undertaken to be more sustainable. These include:
Participation in a green program – We are members of the King County EnviroStar program and have been a 5-Star EnviroStar award winner for numerous years for our sustainable landscaping.
Fresh air – Our guestrooms have doors that open. (Fresh air is healthier than the stale air of closed-up rooms.)
Energy conservation – We reduce energy use through energy-efficient lighting and appliances, insulation and weather stripping, and by turning off lights and appliances when not in use.
Water conservation – Our water reduction methods include capturing water for use through water storage or conservation projects (as well as low-flow toilets, shower heads, and faucets), and washing sheets and towels less frequently due to our linen re-use program in the guest rooms.
Water-wise gardening – One of the major objectives in our landscape management program is water conservation. We accomplish this by using a computerized irrigation clock, using SAM sprinkler heads which eliminates misting and fogging to save on water as well as time and money, and monitoring landscape water use on an on-going basis. We use water-wise plants native or adaptable to the climatic nature of the region. We also have sound horticultural practices such as the use of bioswales to capture sediment before water returns to the Sammamish River. Deep mulch systems in beds and grass-cycling on lawns all contribute to reducing use and maintaining the quality of water in our beautiful valley.
Durable service items – Wherever possible, we use dishes, cups, glasses, mugs, tableware, and serving pieces that are long-lasting, not disposable.
Promote green in PR – We share our environmental initiatives and best practices via public relations efforts and media outreach in the hope that we will inspire others in our community and industry. Whether it’s promoting the property as a green lodging option for travel stories in consumer publications, outlining best practices for the hotel trades or inviting a local news crew to report on the latest in sustainable gardening, Willows Lodge is always at the forefront of sharing the green message far and wide.
Maintenance for conservation – As fixtures and appliances wear out, we replace them with more efficient models (e.g., light bulbs, toilets, shower heads and faucets, appliances such as refrigerators and dryers).
Sheet and towel re-use program – Our linen re-use program reduces water and energy consumption.
Recycling and Waste Reduction – We have recycling containers in all guest rooms, as well as in kitchen areas, and our employee offices and break room to ensure we are doing our part to recycle and reduce waste. We have been voted as one of the Best Workplaces for Recycling & Waste Reduction by King County for many years.
Eco-friendly food – Wherever possible, our restaurants serve food that is local, organically grown and raised, and/or grown in a manner that is sensitive to its natural habitat for preserving wildlife and other plants.
Organic food – Wherever possible, we serve organic food grown without the application of pesticides or fertilizers.
Cotton sheets/towels – We provide 100% cotton sheets and towels in our guestrooms; these don’t add volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to the air, thus helping air quality in guestrooms where they are used.
Donating to charity – We donate used sheets and towels to local charities or shelters. This ensures they are kept out of landfills.
Composting – A series of static compost bins handle a large percentage of our biological waste generated by the gardens on-site. This, in turn, is cycled back into the landscape for fertility and soil improvement, which reduces the need for outside horticultural inputs.
Compostable disposables – When we do need to use disposable items, we try to ensure they are compostable or biodegradable (e.g., paper napkins and corn-based plastic).
Bulk soaps and amenities – The soap, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion in our guestrooms comes in bulk dispensers, not individual packages. This saves us time and money, as well as natural resource and landfill contributions by cutting down on packaging.
Allergies – We understand that some of our guests have chemical sensitivities and allergies to airborne particles; we provide hypo-allergenic bedding and humidifiers upon request.