When it comes to environmental and sustainability issues, Chris and Rosie Robinson live by the basic principle that saving the environment means saving money, too.
"If everyone just thought about the effect of managing their own utilities, be it at home or at work or at corporate level, there would be a big slow-down in the use of natural resources," says Chris. "At the Stephan Langton we try to play our part in working with both the local community and society in general by managing our carbon footprint and ensuring that we recycle what we can and keep wastage to a minimum."
The Robinsons achieve this by "micro-managing" everything from their use of oil, gas, water and logs to installing timer-fitted equipment set to work during the low, night-time electricity tariff.
Commercial waste is recycled by a local company and Chris ensures everything is packed into a single 1,100-litre bin. "When we first came here there were two bins but at £18 a collection it's worth the effort," he says. On a smaller scale, the Robinsons send egg boxes back to the supplier or to the local nursery school to be used for educational projects, menu paper is sent to the local primary school for children to do exercises on and even screw-top fruit juice bottles are reused at local fairs for the bottling of home-made local brews.
Produce is sourced locally, where possible, including crayfish, venison, pigeon, trout, mushrooms and vegetables, which are brought in from the surrounding Wotton Estate.
"Most of our main suppliers are local so we don't have huge trucks that have driven for miles pulling up outside and two of our ales are brewed within a couple of miles of us," he says.
At the same time, Chris points out that there are limitations to what the pub can achieve. "We try to help, but feel there isn't enough support for small businesses from our local council, to whom we pay about £20,000 a year in both business rates and personal community tax. They give us no direct support for our taxes, especially none for environmental support initiatives," he says.
Mentor James Horler says: "I think they're doing really well. They're actually in an area where location is important and they've picked up good points such as burning local logs and are in tune with what matters without taking it too far in that area. Everyone is now looking at the environment and recycling and, although they're a very small pub in a massive market, they do take on board everything that we discuss and make it work in their own way and I applaud that."
Friday Street, Abinger Common, Surrey RH5 6JR
After the Stephan Langton appeared in the Michelin Eating Out in Pubs guide, local newspaper the Dorking Advertiser gave the pub a "glowing review". Owners Chris and Rosie Robinson were also delighted that the pub was featured in the Campaign for Real Ale's Good Beer Guide 2010.
"We serve two local ales and have worked hard at providing a good environment for consistent high-quality cask ales. This listing was very pleasing to us as it helps consolidate our image as a traditional local pub," Chris says.
Weekend trade was strong throughout the month; and while weekday business was weak, the good weather at the end of September lured customers back out. A university student replaced popular barman David at the pub throughout the summer but the Robinsons have decided not to fill the position on a full-time basis.
"With most of our business being led by food, it makes sense to direct resources into food service, be it in the kitchen or on the floor," Chris adds.