Sustainable Businesses on the Isle of Skye
One of the best ways you can enjoy the Misty Isle without worrying too much about your carbon footprint is to spend your time and money thoughtfully, buying from local businesses and supporting the islands economy. Of course, it is also important to minimise the waste that you create. Pack carefully for your trip – make sure you remember essentials such as refillable water bottles and reusable coffee cups. Don’t leave your amazing eco-friendly habits at home – Skye is a beautiful yet fragile landscape and we all need to do our bit to keep it that way – no-one wants to see single-use plastics floating in the Fairy Pools. Here are some of our favourite local businesses who are making a real effort to reduce their impact on our natural world.
Cuillin Brewery are making waves on and off the island with their innovative range of unique beers. This teensy-tiny brewery is attached to the popular Sligachan Hotel, right in the middle of the island. Their passion for all things Hebridean is evident in their newest collection, which includes a locally-sourced Seaweed IPA. We can confirm the seaweed used in this (delicious) beer is extremely local, having witnessed the head brewer don his wetsuit for a freezing foraging session in the wild waters just off the coast of Sconser.
Usually, local scallop diver and entrepreneur Ben Oakes supplies the brewery with kelp gathered as he dives the same spot for seafood. With his excellent knowledge of local wildlife breeding and feeding habits, Ben helps the brewery by ensuring that they they are harvesting seaweed at times of year that allow for minimal impact on the diverse sea-life that calls this coastal area home. Foraging for ingredients in this way, close the brewery, means that there are absolutely zero carbon emissions: no long distance travel, no packaging, no factory production.
Cuillin Brewery have also teamed up with pals around the island – their creamy Coffee Milk Stout is made with beans hand roasted by Birch in Portree, and their Rhubarb and Sea Salt Sour is flavoured with salt harvested from Loch Snizort, by The Skye Sea Salt Co. Again, choosing local suppliers cuts down on environmental impact, as well as supporting the local economy – and of course, creating yummy, authentic Skye beers – quite literally made from mountains.
Isle of Sky Sea Salt
Skye Sea Salt Co. harvest straight from Loch Snizort, and the cold, clear water produces a salt high in natural minerals – which means high in taste. The water from the loch is pumped into shallow ponds, housed within poly-tunnels to protect it from the strong Skye winds. Then begins the all-natural evaporation process led by the sun and the wind.
Unlike many salt manufacturers, Skye Seat Salt refuse to use chemicals to speed up the process, meaning that it can take up to six weeks for the ponds to transform into piles of salty crystals. It is then is simply swept up and stored until it is dry enough to be sorted and packaged by hand. This intimate, labour intensive process means that there is almost zero environmental impact on the surrounding the land. The packaging used is all completely recyclable and the tubs contain bags which can be switched out – meaning you can buy one tub and continue to use it, saving materials and money.
SkyeSkyns may not seem an obvious choice for sustainability — however these luxurious sheepskins are actually a by-product of the booming meat industry which operates in the highlands. SkyeSkyns was set up as a family business in the 80s, inspired by a desire to minimise farm waste as they noticed that lamb and sheep skins from Skye were often discarded by the abattoir in Inverness. With this in mind, the ethos of SkyeSkyns has been focussed on sustainability from the very beginning: and now even more so.
Tanning requires plenty of heat and energy, so the innovative team at SkyeSkyns have found a way to stop using finite resources to power the machinery – they now use mimosa bark, which is sustainably harvested and reused as fertiliser on the croft. The business is set in the stunningly beautiful village of Waternish, and the tannery and the attached coffee yurt have grown into a bespoke, five-star tourist attraction. The sheepskins are hand-made with painstaking attention to detail: the quality of craftsmanship is the very cornerstone of what goes on here.
Aside from the sheepskins, SkyeSkyns have also branched into the world of slow fashion, selling carefully made wool clothing which is can be worn and enjoyed for many years – unlike the throwaway fabrics that dominate the fashion world today.