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Arcata woman opens home to travelers in county’s first eco-hostel

ARCATA- Joyce Plath welcomes strangers into her home each night.

“I’ve owned it since 1979. It was my family house for a very long time,” Plath said.

Last year Plath and a group of friends turned the 100-year-old Arcata house into Humboldt County’s first ever eco-hostel.

“An eco-hostel, or a guest house, is basically a place for people to stay but it uses environmentally sound practices,” Plath said. “Every decision we make here is based on what’s good for the environment and what’s good for society which is mostly local, and of course, turning a profit.”

And everything about the Redwood Lily hostel is eco-friendly, from the organic and locally produced breakfast served, to the glasses guests can use that are made of recycled glass. Even the flooring throughout the house is sustainable.

“The floor here is cork, cork is a sustainable product the cork tree is stripped but then grows back, so it’s renewable,” Plath said. “In the kitchen we have flooring made our of recycled rubber tires.”

The house’s bed frames, bedding and pillows are also environmentally friendly.

“All the bedding here is linen that’s made from organic cotton grown in Texas. It’s not imported, and the reason organic cotton is important is that it not only is better for you on your body, but it’s also much better for the environment because the toxins that are used to grow normal cotton are damaging to the land and the air,” Plath said. “Our beds are FSC, Forest Stewardship Council certified. That’s a verification for sustainably grown wood and most of our wood comes from the Arcata forest.”

Plath is even growing an urban garden to cut down the hostel’s purchasing of products with excess packaging and help curb contamination of the environment with pesticides. She also composts in her backyard, turning food and other green waste into a rich soil enhancer.

“So all of those things become part of what we do and it becomes more automatic over time,” Plath said.

And for a woman who has shared her home with hundreds of people in just the past year, she says she hopes to influence her guests to live green as well.

“All of the things we do here are things that people who come here can maybe get a little clue of another way to live,” Plath said.

The Redwood Lily can house up to eleven people per night and hosts group functions throughout the week for local organizations.