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9 tips for a sustainable stay in Cornwall

Eco-boutiques, hidden gems and exploring on foot - making simple choices can help you play your part in looking after Cornwall’s natural heritage. Below are just a few suggestions, to help make your future trip to the region as eco-friendly as it is enjoyable.

Choose green businesses

Whether you’re booking your accommodation or deciding where to eat, seek out hotels and restaurants that aim to have as low an impact as possible and give back to the land they live off. This might mean they’ve invested in eco-technologies, promote a farm-to-fork ethos, or simply that they avoid single-use plastic. One luxurious example is the eco-boutique The Emerald, the UK’s first ever zero carbon accommodation, which comes complete with heated pool, private hot tubs and tennis courts. Alternatively, there’s Lowen in St Austell, a four-bedroom, zero carbon self-catering accommodation that also boasts a hot tub, stunning views and reclaimed beams, for the ultimate in eco-friendly family lodging.

Follow the path less travelled

Family walking near St Mawes, Cornwall

By exploring Cornwall’s lesser-known beauty spots, you give the region’s honeypots a chance to recover, plus you’ll escape the crowds, discover secret highlights and make your social following green with envy! There are plenty of hidden gems in Cornwall, including secret gardens, tranquil riverside footpaths and even a quirky amphitheatre. Other little known bucket-list locations include the astounding craggy cove of Hell’s Mouth, the fishing village of Newlyn, close to Penzance, and the sprawling sandy beach of Tregirls, just outside Padstow.

Eat regional, recycle local

Dreaming of a picnic surrounded by Cornish coastal views? Choose regional dishes from local suppliers, for a true taste of Cornwall without the carbon footprint. Use refillable bottles for drinks and remember to bring an extra bag that's big enough to collect any used packaging, ready to sort and drop into local recycling bins later.

Retreat into nature

Dog enjoying the outdoors, Cornwall.

There are endless ways to treat your senses in Cornwall in an environmentally friendly way. Smell the fresh sea air, feel the sand between your toes and see the stars in the region’s sparkling dark skies. If you want to channel Cornwall’s relaxing energy, there are also lots of eco-friendly retreats on offer. One example is the Cotna Eco Retreat, an organic farm that offers low impact yurt accommodation and hosts a range of getaways including reflective breaks and spiritual retreats.

Do a two-minute beach clean

If others have left their litter behind, help them to do their bit – that’s the philosophy of The 2 Minute Foundation, a Cornwall-based charity that encourages everyone to spend two minutes cleaning beaches, with the help of their beach clean stations. There is also Surfers Against Sewage and Clean Cornwall, who post local beach clean-up events, giving you the chance to get involved with the local community and keep Cornwall cracking.

Keep it local

From what to eat to how to enjoy yourself, it helps to think about where your money is going and how it’s supporting the local economy. Wherever possible, support local independent businesses. Cornwall’s cathedral city of Truro is home to a host of local and independent shops, such as The Cornish Makers shop, which showcases the work of 18 local craftspeople. Nearby, there’s also a tempting Farmers’ Market to boot! Alternatively, why not consider indulging in some mouth-watering local seafood? Cornwall is famed for its seaside eateries serving super-fresh dishes. One favourite with locals and visitors alike is the quaint and ultra-local Fresh From The Sea in Port Isaac, where crab, lobster and fish are caught daily by the owner. 

Ditch the wheels

Kayaking off the coast of Cornwall.

You don’t need a car to enjoy Cornwall. Take a bike ride or step out of the front door and see where your own two feet will take you! For unforgettable views of Cornwall’s azure coastline, you can look forward to walking a portion of the South West Coast Path – the UK’s longest National Trail. Seeking an environmentally friendly adventure? Make a note of Paddle Cornwall River Encounter, which offers paddle boarding, canoe and kayaking experiences in Fowey, south Cornwall. A winner of the Cornish Tourism Bronze Award for Wildlife Friendly Business, the company also have an eco-minded café on site, The Boatshed - perfect for refuelling on locally sourced treats!

Avoid single-use plastic

Who needs disposable plastic straws or cutlery when a cup or a metal fork will do? If you must use disposable, make it biodegradable. Origin Coffee’s café, The Warehouse in Penryn is looking to become completely waste free, and offers eco-friendly hot drinks in biodegradable cups!

Shop consciously

One way to shop guilt free is to buy from businesses that promote environmentally friendly principles, making finding that perfect souvenir even sweeter. One good example is Wildwood Cornwall in Bude, which is known for its commitment to Fair Trade and eco-friendly principles and sells ethically sourced homeware, jewellery and clothing.


Edited from an original article by Pat Smith, the driving force behind the Final Straw Cornwall campaign to rid the county of single-use plastics in hospitality outlets. For more Cornwall travel tips and information, head to Visit Cornwall.

12 Jan 2022(last updated)

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