The Cedar Key green movement continues to build momentum with Faraway Inn becoming the second business to receive the Green Lodging Program designation from the Florida Department of Environment Protection.
“It's the right thing to do,” said Doreen Bauer, who owns and operates Faraway Inn with her husband Oliver, about the decision to go green. “We've got our flag and we're going to be putting it up this weekend,” she said.
To qualify for the green designation, lodging businesses must provide recycling bins in each unit, use green cleaning products and post an informational sign outlining green conduct that educates visitors regarding environmentally friendly practices as well as provide feedback or suggestion cards to make green improvements. Composting is also required.
Faraway Inn was certified green June 10, 2009. Seahorse Landing earned its green endorsement earlier this year. The green designation makes it possible for state employees to patronize the facility. In 2007 Governor Crist signed three executive orders initiating state energy-use policies, including one that requires state agencies and departments to hold meetings and conferences only at hotels with the Florida Green Lodging Program designation as of January 1, 2008, whenever possible.
Visitors have already responded to the green endorsement. “The guests really like it,” Doreen said.
One guest called in advance to inquire about the cleaning products used in the room as she suffers from allergies to smells and chemicals. Her health was not bothered during her stay because green cleaning products are less harsh. “The lady was as happy as can be,” Doreen said. “Folks are much happier not having the chemicals on their bodies and their towels,” she said.
Doreen and Oliver, who live on the island, purchased the inn in November of 2000. They became enamored with Cedar Key when traveling from New York to visit ill grandparents who lived in Dunnellon. “Every single chance we could, we came here on vacation.”
Bauer credits the recent community green initiative for making the transition much easier. “Before it was really difficult for us as a business to recycle. The island has made it easier. Our whole community is pushing toward a goal and that makes a really big difference to us. Not only is it good for the environment, it helps give you more exposure,” she said.
Besides being environmentally friendly, the Faraway Inn is pet friendly too. “We love people to come with their dogs,” Doreen said. Recently, the animal rescue group GRITS -Golden Retriever Rescue in the South - rented the entire complex of five cottages and seven motel style rooms, bringing 25 dogs along with them for a fun time on the island. The group plans to return again next year.
Pet lovers themselves, the Bauers started the Cedar Key Trap, Neuter, Return program which provides low cost neuter/spay, rabies vaccination and a four in one vaccine for cats. They have an office cat at work named Turtle, and at their home they have six dogs and numerous cats that they have rescued.
Doreen said she is happy to help other establishments on the islands who want to go green. “It's a really positive step. It really isn't all that costly to implement. If the whole town ends up doing this, we could become the first community to go green, and the publicity would be fantastic. It's good for business and the guests really like it,” she said.