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There’s an old, Native American proverb that says: “We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”.

The proverb may be hundreds of years old, but nowhere does it ring more true than in this current millenia, and more specifically, the 21st century. Never before has humankind seen a faster degradation of our planet, with climate change, pollution and other, man-made factors wreaking havoc in Mother Nature.

However, in that same breath, never before has there been more pressure on humankind to protect the Earth and all that she gives us. People all over the word are more aware and more in tune to their contribution to the Earth – and that is something that should give everyone hope.

When it comes to the tourism and hospitality industry, there are several factors in which a company or hotel or even a small guesthouse can positively contribute to sustainability efforts, going green and ultimately protecting Earth from further damage.

At Village n Life, we take our sustainability efforts very seriously. We are very conscious of being as green as we can in our current capacity, and to educate our staff on the principles of sustainability and eco-friendly practises and policies.

The United Nations put together a list of 5 key areas to focus on on their Sustainable Tourism Development roadmap. These are:

  1. Sustainable economic growth
  2. Increased employment and poverty reduction
  3. Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change
  4. Culture values, diversity and heritage
  5. Mutual understanding, peace and security

With a special focus on point 3 of the United Nations’ list, we recently asked three of our properties’ Facilities Managers to explain the efforts of their respective properties when it comes to sustainability and eco-friendly practises and policies.

We sent the same questions to Louise McArdle, Facilities Manager for The Bay Hotel in Camps Bay, Henri Swiegers, Facilities Manager at Camps Bay Retreat and Daniel Louw, Facilities Manager at Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa.

It was very important to us for the properties to be virtuous and truthful in their aim to be more environmentally conscious. We didn’t want the properties to take part in “greenwashing” – a practise that has been noted in the tourism and hospitality industry.

“Greenwashing” is when a hotel or establishment simply label themselves as ‘green’ without actually having any eco-friendly measure in place.

Louise McArdle – Facilities Manager, The Bay Hotel, Camps Bay

  1. In your sustainability efforts, what are your most prominent green initiatives?

We have a grey water solution in place at The Bay Hotel. We recycle all of our laundry water to be utilized for staff toilets and irrigation. We also have a borehole water system in place, which means we are self-sustainable with regards to our water supply within the hotel.

Lastly, we have our own bottling plant, where we bottle our water for our guests.

  1. What products are at the hotel that are considered eco-friendly?

As mentioned above, our in-house bottling plant produces bottles still and sparkling water. We also supply bottled water to all other Village n Life properties. Our water systems are soft start motors, which means that there is no electrical consumption upon activation.

  1. Is there a dedicated person in charge of ‘environmental sustainability’, ‘recycling and upcycling’ or ‘eco-friendly initiatives’ at the hotel?

Masibulele is our dedicated person in charge of bottling our water bottles at the hotel. Recycling is controlled by Zukisa, who ensures that all paper and boxes are put in the right cages for collection.

  1. Are your sustainability/eco-friendly/recycling and upcycling efforts clearly stated somewhere for guests to see?

Yes, by our ‘Do Good Wall’ which is located by the ATM in the hotel.

  1. How does the hotel help your broader community in eco-friendly initiatives?

We assist the Camps Bay Football Club (which is adjacent to The Bay Hotel) with greywater for their fields, as well as supplying Camps Bay Primary with greywater and borehole water.

  1. What are your different policies on the recycling (or, in some cases, upcycling) of the four major ‘elements’ at your establishment: water, electricity, plastic and cardboard/paper?

Water: Greywater and borehole water

Plastic: Plastic is collected and separated and recycled through Green Jobs

Cardboard: Cardboard is collected at the hotel for recycling

Electricity: We have internal and external heat pumps, timers and our conversion to LED.

  1. What are you doing to reduce the carbon footprint* of the property and staff working there?  

*’carbon footprint’: the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation or community.

We encourage staff to recycle through having recycling bins placed within our office area. We also recycle condemned linen for maintenance purposes.

We refurbish old bicycles for staff to use. We upcycle out-of-service products to be utilized at other properties. When staff need to make trips to other properties, we have logistic controls in place to reduce fuel consumption and vehicle use.

  1. Are there policies in place to encourage guests to be more mindful or their own carbon footprint or encourage them to be more eco-friendly (i.e check water or electricity usage)?

We do currently have signage in our rooms with regard to be being conscious of water consumption.

  1. Does your hotel’s kitchen support local produce providers and businesses?

Yes, we use fynbos as an ingredient in our dishes and as promotion for display and retail purposes.

Amos is a local producer who supplies our kitchen with fresh fruit and veg.

  1. What are your goals for the next 12 months in terms of eco-friendly initiatives and what (if any) is already in the pipeline?

Our current project brief is to reduce our electricity consumption. We are looking at ways such as solar energy and smart automation of rooms, as well as maintaining continual initiatives to teach our staff.

The Bay Hotel in Camps Bay

 

Henri Swiegers – Facilities Manager, Camps Bay Retreat, Camps Bay

  1. In your sustainability efforts, what are your most prominent green initiatives?

We have a water plant that cleans the water from the spring/river that runs past our property into the ocean and enables us to use it. Our property has soil erosion protection and we actively work on composting.

We propagate local plants for our gardens and have an earthworm farm in our nursery.

In addition to that, we have the Southern Afrotemperate Forest Project for our gardens. We also upcycle old building material and re-use it in our gardens.

We make use of energy efficient lighting and inverter aircons and our cardboard boxes and paper is taken to Hout Bay for recycling.

Most intricately, our Forest Pods (or container pods) are made from recycled containers. (You can read more about Camps Bay Retreat’s Forest Pods here)

  1. Is there a dedicated person in charge of ‘environmental sustainability’, ‘recycling and upcycling’ or ‘eco-friendly initiatives’ at the hotel?

Not at the moment, but as a Facilities Manager, I keep an eye on these things.

  1. Are your sustainability/eco-friendly/recycling and upcycling efforts clearly stated somewhere for guests to see?

Not everything, however, some of it is stated for guests to see.

  1. How does the hotel help your broader community in eco-friendly initiatives?

We have completely taken the hotel off the local water grid to relief the strain on the grid following the drought and subsequent water restrictions in the area. We also assist our neighbours where we can with water irrigation.

  1. Are there policies in place to encourage guests to be more mindful or their own carbon footprint or encourage them to be more eco-friendly (i.e check water or electricity usage)?

We encourage guests to be mindful of water usage throughout the hotel.

  1. Does your hotel’s kitchen support local produce providers and businesses?

Yes, we have a bunch of local producers that we source ingredients from for our kitchen.

  1. What are your goals for the next 12 months in terms of eco-friendly initiatives and what (if any) is already in the pipeline?

We are looking into investing in solar projects to reduce the all round electrical usage of the grid.

Camps Bay Retreat in Camps Bay

 

Daniel Louw – Facilities Manager, Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa, Knysna

  1. In your sustainability efforts, what are your most prominent green initiatives?

We have several solar heated initiatives. We have a solar heated pool, and 50% of the geysers in the hotel rooms are solar heated.

We also have multi hooks installed throughout the property to encourage people to naturally dry their towels, rather than sending them to be dried at the laundry. Our sugar packets are also wrapped in paper and not plastic.

  1. What products are at the hotel that are considered eco-friendly?

We have biodegradable take away containers, biodegradable straws and, as mentioned above, our sugar is wrapped in paper, not plastic.

  1. Is there a dedicated person in charge of ‘environmental sustainability’, ‘recycling and upcycling’ or ‘eco-friendly initiatives’ at the hotel?

Currently, it is me, and at the end of May, we welcomed a dedicated Horticulturist to our team, Bruce Wessels.

  1. Are your sustainability/eco-friendly/recycling and upcycling efforts clearly stated somewhere for guests to see?

Not at the moment, however, we would love to implement that soon.

  1. How does the hotel help your broader community in eco-friendly initiatives?

Recently, we teamed up with Bio Wise (www.biowise.org.za)

  1. What are your different policies on the recycling (or, in some cases, upcycling) of the four major ‘elements’ at your establishment: water, electricity, plastic and cardboard/paper?

Water: All our rainwater is harvested from the main building roof into a holding tank. The water is then upcycled and used in the irrigation system, topping up the pool and ponds.

A secondary harvesting plant is situated in the garden where rainwater from the rooms are gathered in holding tanks and used for the garden’s irrigation system and filling the gardens’ and grounds’ water features.

Electricity: The use of underfloor heating has been discontinued. All of our geysers are on timers and we switch them off over peak periods to reduce the load on the local supply.

All the globes in the Rooms and Suites are energy saving light bulbs or LEDs, and the majority of the globes in the core building and all fluorescent shaped lights are LEDs.

Paper and plastic: Paper and plastic is sorted and separated from general garbage and placed in a dedicated recycle area. This is then collected every second day by the local recycle partner.

  1. What are you doing to reduce the carbon footprint* of the property and staff working there?  

*’carbon footprint’: the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation or community.

A recently established nursery is used to propagate new plants from our garden and grounds and build out into an organic vegetable garden, which will then produce ingredients for our kitchen’s organic menu.

  1. Are there policies in place to encourage guests to be more mindful or their own carbon footprint or encourage them to be more eco-friendly (i.e check water or electricity usage)?

Guests are encouraged to rather reuse their towels than to put them into the wash after one use. Guests are also informed of our linen refresh policy for long stays, which is a refresh every second day.

  1. Does your hotel’s kitchen support local produce providers and businesses?

The kitchen team continuously strive to source ingredients and produce from local suppliers in an effort to support the local farming community. We are also in the process of sourcing our milk from a local milk farm in our community.

  1. What are your goals for the next 12 months in terms of eco-friendly initiatives and what (if any) is already in the pipeline?

Training and workshops are planned for mid-June with Bio Wise in order to bring the concept to the Pezula team.

Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa in Knysna