Environmental Sustainability Policy

Bothy Project’s Vision, Mission and activities have encapsulated environmental sustainability since we began our work in 2011, encompassed within our guiding principles of Creativity, Landscape, Living Simply. Every individual who travels to our bothies has a tangible experience with the environment and our bothies are situated in diverse, sensitive landscapes where the reality and impacts of the climate emergency are stark.

As an organisation we strive to instil behavioural change in relation to the climate emergency through increased cultural and environmental understanding in residents, local and agency partners, and audiences.

We are a member of the Green Arts Initiative and in 2023, we worked with Creative Carbon Scotland to develop the Green Arts Charter, a collaborative sustainability agreement designed for and by cultural organisations. By signing the charter we have committed to:

  • reducing our emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change
  • inspiring our communities and collaborating with others to deliver climate action
  • advocating for climate action and influencing for change
  • embedding climate justice in our organisation and any climate action we do

As a small organisation, all staff and board members are involved in shaping and helping to deliver our environmental sustainability goals. Between 2024-28, environmental training will take place for staff and board members, environmental sustainability will be embedded within all job descriptions and a trustee from the sustainability sector will be sought to join the board. 

Bothy Project is enthusiastic to share our learning with peer organisations, to benefit and strengthen the sector’s work. 

Our target is to become a net-zero organisation by 2030. This target has been set in parallel to the place specific targets that relate to our operations and partners & stakeholders as well as Scotland’s national legislation to become net-zero by 2045. (Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Isle of Eigg and Cairngorms National Park have committed to becoming net-zero areas by 2030).

Bothy Project is working towards the long-term ambition to become a sustainability pioneer within Scotland’s cultural sector by becoming not just carbon neutral but a carbon negative organisation.

Our bothies are off-grid and purpose-built to offer direct creative engagement with the Scottish landscape.

Our current residency location is Sweeney’s Bothy on the Isle of Eigg which was built as part of Creative Scotland’s Year of Natural Scotland in 2013. Sweeney’s Bothy is connected to Eigg Electric; a world-leading renewable energy system that generates 95% of the island’s energy via hydro, solar and wind power. The bothy is heated by a wood-burning stove which also heats the water for the outdoor shower. There is a separate composting toilet 15 metres from the bothy; the compost produced is used by the Eigg Tree Nursery which grows over 20,000 local provenance native trees a year. Within the bothy, bins are provided to separate recycling, food waste and residual waste.

Between 2024-28, we have ambitious plans to grow our network of bothies within Scotland. All new bothies will be built using locally sourced, sustainable materials; will be effectively insulated (EPC A/B); will be off-grid and serviced by solar/hydro/wind power; will be served by composting toilets and rainwater harvesting systems; will consider public transport and active travel routes in their location and operational running; and will support, advocate and adhere to the Environmental Sustainability policies and place specific targets of our new community and agency partners.

All new bothies will also adhere to wider building strategies and assessments that consider sustainability performance including the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework 4 and BREEAM.

We recognise the need to adapt to changes already caused by climate change and as such Sweeney’s Bothy is regularly maintained and assessed for damage and necessary improvements. New bothies will continue to be built with adaptation and resilience in mind, using simple, durable materials that are easy to replace and that ensure the longevity of our buildings.

Residencies & Public Programme
Travel is a necessary part of our residency activity and our largest emission source. As part of our commitment to mitigating our environmental impact, we aim to measure and reduce the travel-related carbon emissions of our residents.

Whilst residents’ travel does not sit within our direct control, we aim to influence, encourage and support our residents to make sustainable travel choices. Our current residency location is Sweeney’s Bothy on the Isle of Eigg. We encourage residents to travel to Eigg via public transport (train and ferry). It is not possible for visitors to take cars onto the Isle of Eigg apart from permitted provision for registered disabled persons’ vehicles. At the beginning and end of each residency, residents are driven to/from Sweeney’s Bothy and the pier (3.8 miles). At all other times, residents are encouraged to explore the island by foot or bike. Further details can be found on Sweeney’s Bothy Travel & Facilities webpage.

The majority of our residency opportunities are for those based within Scotland and the UK. We have a limited number of residency opportunities available to those based in Europe. We encourage all residents travelling from Europe to take land-based transport rather than flying. When our network of bothies within Scotland expands in 2024-28, we will have the potential to offer longer residencies and may consider accepting applicants from outside Europe.

  • Bothy Project does not support practices that have an explicit negative impact on the environment, and selection panels will be mindful of non-sustainable practices
  • We continue to offer Partnership Residencies with the Cairngorms National Park Authority (this relationship is embedded within the Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan 2022-27) and Cairngorms Youth Local Action Group, which have a specific focus on the environment and climate emergency
  • Fieldwork Residencies provide opportunities for researchers, academics and other experts to investigate ‘landscape in its widest sense’, and enable local communities to request research useful to their communities 
  • Neighbourhood Residencies provide opportunities for people local to each bothy to explore ideas pertinent to them, so far including rural economies, land use, rewilding, re-peopling, tourism and travel
  • We will apply slow tourism principles to the programming of our expanded bothy network which sees visitors stay longer and travelling less, understanding the place they are visiting more fully and having a meaningful experience
  • We will continue to advocate for Climate Justice through our residency offering and public programme of talks, podcasts and posters, and our relationships with the communities we work within

Public Programme
The Public Programme captures and shares the best experience and learning generated across Bothy Project residencies, including learning that reflects the environment and climate emergency. The programme encourages positive behavioural change.

Our three Public Programme strands – talks, podcasts and posters – are designed to have low environmental impact. The talks take place online, removing the need to travel for staff, residents and audience members, and enabling a global engagement. The podcasts are recorded remotely, removing the need to travel for staff and participants. The posters (print runs of 200) are printed using the low impact risograph process, recycled papers and eco-friendly inks. The posters are posted second class and distributed in minimal, biodegradable packaging.

Our team is currently based between Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Isle of Eigg. We work remotely or from a shared office space in Edinburgh. When commuting, our team uses active and sustainable transport such as walking, cycling and public transport. Where appropriate, video conferencing is considered as an alternative to travelling to a meeting. When additional travel across Scotland and the UK and Europe is required, we use rail, bus and ferry transport wherever possible.

We are continuously aiming to improve our operational activity in relation to environmental sustainability and are currently working towards:

  • Reducing our printing and moving towards being a paperless office (where printing is required, waste is recycled or composted)
  • Reducing our digital emissions through energy saving processes and efficient storage
  • Switching to a green pension provider (following the guidance of the Make My Money Matter Green Pensions Charter)

Partners & Stakeholders
Sweeney’s Bothy is located on the Isle of Eigg which is owned by the community organisation Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust who have set 2030 as the island’s net zero target. We will continue to work closely with the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, recognising their Strategic Development Plan which considers the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework, Scottish Government’s Rural Action Plan and the EU’s Clean Energy for EU Islands initiative.

We are currently working with Cairngorms National Park Authority as a part of Cairngorms 2030’s Community Arts and Culture Programme which brings together the National Park’s creative sector to identify and develop activities that create a greater connection to our landscapes and foster a sense of place. Cairngorms 2030 is a programme that will inspire people and communities in the National Park to take action and tackle the nature and climate crisis with the target of becoming the UK’s first net zero national park.

Our expanded network of bothies 2024-2028 will advocate and adhere to the Environmental Sustainability policies and place specific targets of our new community and agency partners.

During 2025 we will consider the environmental policies of future funders and community and agency partners to create an Ethical Funding Policy.

Action Plan
Bothy Project’s Environmental Sustainability Policy is written in recognition of our Environmental Sustainability Action Plan.

The monitoring of the Environmental Sustainability Action Plan is a standing agenda item at every second board meeting.

Annual Review
This policy was last updated in April 2024 and will be reviewed annually by Bothy Project’s trustees along with all other Bothy Project policies.