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Doing our Part to Protect our Island Home

Written by Shelley Sharp

recycling icon san juan Maybe it’s living in a small town? Perhaps it’s as residents of San Juan Island we’ve historically had to watch our water usage? Maybe it’s being a part of a caring community that works together as stewards of our beautiful island home? Whatever the reasons, the owners and staff at properties of the San Juan Island Inn Collection are dedicated to green living and sustainability in workplace practices.

Taking Sustainable Steps

On the outside, the green-gabled Tucker House may look like any charming bed and breakfast. Your impression may continue as you enter into its cozy living room and make your way to your guest suite. But impressions can be deceiving and far from accurate. Behind the façade of Victorian charm and quiet elegance lurks a team who monitors their water use and recycle everything from egg cartons to alkaline batteries.

Housekeeper pouring water at the tucker house
Elsa pours filtered water into guest room pitchers.
housekeeper refilling soaps at the tucker house
Instead of small throwaway bottles, we opt to refill large bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and lotion.

Take Head Housekeeper Elsa and her efficient cleaning posse. These ladies are tasked to create a sparkling environment without the use of bleach or other toxic solvents and cleaners. Their secrets? Lavender-based disinfectant, borax, and orange based cleaner. You will notice the pitchers and carafes of filtered water in your suite instead of single use water bottles. There are large pump containers of hair and body products in your bathroom that allow refilling replacing small travel sized bottles. LED light bulbs are in your fixtures and bed.

A Sustainable Kitchen

Innkeeper taking out trash
Matia takes out the daily kitchen recycling.

In the kitchen, Chef Jessica does her part to reign in waste and create menu plans using what’s in season and what’s in the fridge. Winter citrus fruits might be grilled, puréed or put in a salad. Leafy greens top rice, grits, and noodles and add crunch and texture to frittatas and stratas. Blackened peppers from Coho Restaurant might make their way to your tostada or marinara sauce. Behind the scenes, the Collection’s cooks work together to make sure none of the beautiful fresh products go to waste and that coffee grounds and yogurt whey enhance the berry bushes and garden.

A Sustainable Office

In the office, Innkeepers Shelley and Patrick and crew recycle junk mail and cardboard, turn on lights only when necessary, and reuse paper waste by making it into notepads. They are relentless in their efforts to rid plastic from the workplace. Your to-go sack breakfast will have bamboo cutlery and paper bags and cloth napkins are always used for our café breakfast service. Shredded invoices may become packing material and we opt for bundling up rather than turning on heat. We also use low VOC paints when updating guest rooms.

A Sustainable Business Approach

sustainable traveling at tucker house
More travelers than ever are heading for destinations that make an effort towards sustainable tourism. Photo credit:

Owners Anna Maria and David know that guests seek out green travel and accommodations that make real efforts towards giving back. According to a 2018 study by, 87 percent of those surveyed said they want to make intentional sustainable travel choices, but only 39 percent often or always manage to do so. That’s because of the lack of information from the tourism industry about green choices. But it’s good news if you are planning a trip to San Juan Island and the Tucker House Inn or Harrison House Suites.  You can be rest assured (no pun intended) that staying with us is not only helping to reduce your own carbon footprint, but is a meaningful way to give back to our small community – so that you can continue to enjoy it for years to come.


Here’s How You Can Help During Your Stay

  • Turn off lights and fireplaces when you are not in your room
  • Turn down baseboard heat to a low comfort level while away
  • In summer, close curtains during the heat of the day
  • Bring your own water bottle and refill from the tap or filtered pitchers (we have good water!)
  • Reuse your towels for a few days
  • Recycle paper, metal, glass, and cardboard in the blue receptacles or in the Tucker House kitchen
  • Choose to walk into town and leave your car at the inn. Or better yet. Walk on the ferry and use our complimentary bikes or public transportation to get around (only available in summer)
  • Eat seafood that is harvested through sustainable practices

Read More: Here’s How Coho Restaurant Fits Into the Equation

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