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Island gets first Green Lodging

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By Kellie Parkin

Seahorse Landing Condominium Rentals is the first business in Cedar Key to receive an endorsement for Green Lodging from the Florida Department of Environment Protection.

Qualifying as a green business is not difficult, said Janet Blackwell. “It’s easier than you think - one step at a time, and once it’s implemented, it’s easy.”

To qualify, 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.

“It is wonderful to see businesses implement green practices such as water conservation, recycling and energy reduction because they are not only good for business, they are good for Florida’s environment,” said DEP Sustainable Initiatives Director Deas Bohn.

The state program helps business to implement environmentally friendly practices which include waste reduction, clean air, water conservation, and energy reduction. The program establishes environmental guidelines for hotels and motels to conserve natural resources and prevent pollution.

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.

“Environmental awareness is a lifestyle that I have embraced personally for many years and am happy to implement these practices into my business,” said Blackwell. “Not only is it better for the environment, but it is better for our customers and staff.”

Head of Housekeeping Shawn Hamm agreed. Although he was afraid at first that the green products wouldn‘t clean as well, he used them and found out that they really did the job. “It’s not harsh on your lungs, not bad on your hands.“ He said the products have “more of a natural smell instead of chemical.”

In addition to meeting the state guidelines, Seahorse Landing Condominiums is placing re-usable bags in each unit so that customers don’t have to use plastic bags when trundling to the beach. The bags are also on sale as a souvenir for those who want a momento.

Going green makes sense in today’s world, said Blackwell. “I don’t thing it’s costing me that much more than before. Some of the product costs a little more but they longer,” she said.

Blackwell is happy to serve as a resource to other Cedar Key businesses. She says that going green is economical as well as beneficial. “I think it’s a plus all the way around.”

On Thursday, May 7 the Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Green Lodging Program workshop for all lodging owners at the Cedar Key Public Library at 3 p.m.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will provide a brief presentation with information to help Cedar Keys lodgings get a "Green" certification. The DEP will discuss the how-to and the advantages of going green.

Every motel, condo, and cottage owner as well as managers of any of these are encouraged to attend, said workshop organizers. Residents and community members are also able to attend the public meeting. In addition to the workshop, there will be a period of question and answer time as well.