Our first innovation for Colonel Blackinton Inn, the composting initiative, relates most closely to U.N. SDG #15, ‘Life on Land,’ because we will be reducing the amount of garbage in landfills and helping to create more fertile soil. Our second innovation, installing water-saving shower heads, connects with SDG #6, ‘Clean Water and Sanitation,’ because we are reducing water consumption, which helps to keep water clean.
When we first met Kim, she informed us that one of the things she wanted to do was to implement a composting system but did not have the time to do this on her own. Our group felt that this was a great idea, and since then, we have researched multiple composting companies and presented three options to Kim. In the end, she settled on Bootstrap Composting, a company based out of Rhode Island. This was an ideal fit for her because they offered garbage pick ups once a week and would train the Inn’s employees on what could and couldn’t be composted. An added benefit of this was that Kim was able to cancel out the costs of this recycling program by decreasing the number of trash picks up that she usually got through the town of Attleboro, where the Inn is located. The first collection was on November 11, so we are excited to see how much of an impact our first innovation has on the Inn.
Our second innovation was to install water saving-shower heads in each of the Inn’s 9 bathrooms. To do this, our group found four strong options for Kim and presented them to her. She decided to purchase one to start and see what both her and her customers’ opinions were on the reduced water flow. After positive feedback, Kim decided to purchase and install the other eight shower heads, and they have since then been installed. Although this change incurs a cost in the short term, it will be able to reduce Kim’s costs in the long run. These may be small changes when looking at them at a global scale, but they will add up and make a positive environmental impact in the long run.
As I referenced above, Kim had her mind set on improving the environmental sustainability of the Inn from the day that she opened it. We went into our first meeting with her looking to have one main innovation along with smaller ideas, but we quickly found out that Kim had already completed many of these small changes. These include energy-efficient light bulbs, hiring a company to recycle their grease, installing soap and shampoo dispensers in the shower to eliminate single-use plastics, and much more. The company's website even states that, “We are continuously driving our Company towards new goals, including becoming more eco friendly as a business and reducing our carbon footprint.” It is clear that Kim will be looking out for whatever ways the Inn can improve on its sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint, and we know that we got lucky working with a company that was already focused on it.
One of the most important things that we have learned throughout the semester is that sustainability not only looks at the environment, but social impacts as well. In an email to us, Kim mentions that, “I think we have a pretty strong presence in the Community and have always made an effort to give back to our Community.” In our first meeting, Kim, along with the rest of the staff, recognized that the community is the basis of their success, so they have no problem donating both their time and money to community events each month (or as much as possible). For example, the Inn will be donating three full Thanksgiving meals to the area’s YMCA. This is a small donation, but will mean the world to at least three families during this holiday season. Clearly, Kim realizes the impact that even a small business such as the Inn can have on a community, and she is capitalizing on the opportunity to improve the town of Attleboro in every way possible.
Looking at the overall impacts of our innovation, I first want to examine the composting initiative. Before Kim agreed to work with Bootstrap Composting, she threw out her trash using a normal waste disposal company and the trash would end up in the landfill. With the new composting company in place, the Inn will be filling up to 2 32-gallon totes worth of trash that will be collected by Bootstrap each week. This means that up to 64 gallons of trash will be prevented from entering the landfill each week and a total of 3,328 gallons annually. The program costs $20 per tote, so despite the fact that a portion of the savings from the water bill will go to the composting expenses, the positive environmental impacts that will result from the program will be worth it.
Shifting gears to the water-saving shower heads, there will be an immediate impact as well. Both Energy.gov and homeguides.sfgate.com mention that water-saving shower heads will save 27,000 gallons a year for the same family of four. If we assume that this family has two showers, each shower will save approximately 13,500 gallons of water annually. If we multiply this figure by the nine bathrooms of the Inn, our innovation will save 121,500 gallons of water each year. To put this in perspective, an average bathtub holds 80 gallons of water, so the Inn will be saving the equivalent of 1,518 bathtubs worth of water. Of course, this may be a slight overestimation due to the fact that all of the rooms won’t always be full; however, this is a massive amount of water, and keeping it out of the environment is undoubtedly a positive impact of the shower heads.
The benefits of our changes to the Colonel Blackinton Inn will be twofold. First and foremost, the water-saving shower heads will help to reduce the Inn’s water bill. Previously, the Inn had shower heads that produced 5.5 gallons of water per minute (GPM). According to energy.gov, switching from a 5.5 gpm shower head to a 2.5 gpm low-flow shower head will save a family of four $260 annually. If this family has two bathrooms, that is $130 per bathroom. The Colonel Blackinton Inn has 9 rooms each with their own private baths, so after Kim has installed the new shower heads, the Inn will be saving $1,170 annually. Once again, this may be a slight overestimation, but for a small business like this, these savings will add up over time.
On the other side of things, these changes will help client retention for the Inn. Kim will need to inform the public of their sustainability efforts; however, once the word gets out, people will prefer to support a business with these practices. Larger hotel chains are slower to make these changes, and with all else equal, including prices, the Inn looks like a much better option for dinner or an overnight stay for a business trip. Overall, this will help to make the Inn more revenue, and both Kim and her employees will benefit as a result.
First and foremost, our innovations are helping the environment. The composting initiative that we organized for Kim will help to keep garbage out of local landfills, which is beneficial to the people living around it, In addition to this, if Bootstrap Composting is using the compost to create fertilizer, it can be given to local farmers in order to help their crops. As we have mentioned before, it is a small change, but the impact that it will have can be felt throughout both the environment and the people of Attleboro, Massachusetts.
The town of Attleboro will benefit from the Inn’s changes as well. As mentioned previously, the Inn will be saving over 100,000 gallons of water each year, which can then be used for other uses, such as the high school or YMCA. On the other end, the water-processing plant will be able to reduce their costs because that is 100,000 gallons less water that needs to be cleaned once again. Clearly, the innovation’s benefits extend far beyond just the Inn, as both the people living in Attleboro and the town itself are receiving the benefits as well .
Kim Canova, Co-Owner
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Attleboro, Massachusetts, US
Business Website: https://www.colblackintoninn.com/
Year Founded: 2003
Number of Employees: 11 to 50