It has always been thought that luxury is incompatible with sustainability. Our experience at Meena Bagh has been quite the opposite. Our sustainable practises has in fact added immensely to luxury.
Harvesting / Recycling : Water self-sufficiency.
At Meena Bagh Shimla we have the distinction of being water self-sufficient in a water scarce city. Eco-resorts recommend low-flow shower-heads and bucket baths. Shimla, especially, is plagued with chronic water shortage, with residents getting water supply every alternate day and sometimes after three days in summers. However at our resorts we don’t recommend water conservation. We encourage water usage. Often lots of it.
We harvest rainwater using it for all our water needs including for the shower. We have an underground tank that stores upto 15 thousand litres of rain water. The rainwater is run though filters before it is pumped up to the overhead tanks. The water from the showers and basins (grey water) is then run though our recycling plant and used for flushing toilets and gardening. With double recycling in place, the more water you use, the better it is for the recycling systems. So we not only have high-flow shower-heads but also bath tubs.
We use the Municipal Corporation’s water only when absolutely necesary. (About the quality of water supplied by the corporation the less said the better.)
At Meena Bagh Ratnari our water source is spring water. It’s a perennial spring deep in the forests. However we have built an underground reservoir that holds up to 25 thousand liters of rainwater harvested from the roof. This water is filtered and pumped into the bungalow’s supply tank for general use.
We also use this rainwater reservoir for any irrigation or spraying in the apple orchard.
Insulation: Keeping warm with minimum power consumption.
Both our resorts are designed to keep the cold out and prevent heat loss from within. For this we have used eco-friendly insulants which minimises the use of any room heaters even in the biting cold.
There is a heat loss of over 20 percent from the roof and over 60 percent from the walls. The outer walls and roof of Meena Bagh Shimla have been plastered with insulants that keep the house warm even in the dead of winter.
At Meena Bagh Ratnari, where it gets more cold during snow, we have double walls running the length of the house, with the insulation filling the cavity.
Additionally we have panelled the walls, outer and inner, of both properties with recycled or ‘waste’ wood, adding to the insulation.
We have mud plastered walls which also help in providing an ambience of rustic warmth.
The majority of all windows at both the properties are double glazed units. The sunroom at Meena Bagh Ratnari is entirely made of double glazed units including the four skylights.
Furniture from Waste Wood
We do not buy any furniture from the market. All the furniture including, beds, tables, lamps, sofas, trays, photo-frames etc is designed in-house using ‘waste-wood’. This wood, as opposed to recycled wood, is the wood discarded by Shimla’s wood-mills and used for firewood by the locals in winters. The mill owners call this wood ‘waste’.
We use this wood to design almost everything you see in both the properties. This ‘waste’ wood is also used for wall panelling.
Wherever possible, we also used the dead branches and stumps of our apple trees to make furniture.
(Home Made Lighting Fixtures)
We also do not buy any lighting fixtures (lamps, chandeliers, etc) from the market. We either design the fixtures ourselves or simply use the old discarded Himachali utensils we dredge from our store.
Bicycles not Cars
Like all hill stations, Shimla is crowded. The traffic can be infuriating and there is often no parking space. We encourage not only our guests but also locals to hop on our cycles to commute within the town and help keep Shimla clean and less congested. We have multi-geared, all- terrain Mountain bikes for hire.
The distance to The Mall from Meena Bagh Shimla is barely 2.5kms and can be done in 10 minutes on a cycle.
The toiletries generate a lot of waste both liquid and plastic. After each usage they have to be replaced by a fresh lot. We use 200ml dispenser bottles which can simply be topped up rather than replaced.
The shampoo, conditioner, hand wash and body lotion are PETA certified and sourced from Five Elements.
(No Plastic. No Packaged Drinking Water)
We have RO filtered water-dispensors for use in the living rooms. Kindly do not ask for packaged drinking water.
Recycling waste / Compost making
We recycle all our food waste at both our properties. In Meena Bagh Shimla we have special bins that decompose all our food and paper waste into compost which we use as manure for our plants.
In Meena Bagh Ratnari we have dug a big compost pit in our orchard, where we dump all our food waste for composting.
Books on Science: Environment , Ecology, Natural History, Astronomy etc
We stock books that people would not ordinarily read on vacations – Science Books. But we have an eclectic collection of some of the most interesting books covering everything from evolution, climate change, environment degradation, pulsars, supernovas, black holes, down to books on the meaning of life.
Some of the authors one can find on our shelves include- Carl Sagan, Jared Diamond, E.O. Wilson, Charles Darwin, Alfred Wallace, Yuval Noah Harari and Stephens Hawkins.
(AMATEUR ASTRONOMY CENTRE)
We believe science lends us the most profound philosophical insights not only about our planet but also about ourselves and about the all encompasing universe that holds everything together. In our little effort to promote scientific thought, we have powerful telescopes at our Ratnari property for travellers to gaze at the wonders of the Milky Way.
With clear blue skies, Meena Bagh Ratnari is perfect for star-gazing and we are working on opening an amateur astronomy centre here. For now, we reserve dates of important celestial events for astronomy enthusiasts.