In recent years, the terms ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘going green’ are becoming increasingly popular. With the millennial generation calling for establishments to become “woke” about green living and green hospitality (among other things), there is a higher demand than ever before on the hospitality and tourism industry to clean up its act and go green.
Tourist destinations rich in nature, such as South Africa lodges and nature reserves, are becoming the sought-after holiday locations. This as the current generation of travellers seeks out a natural world alternative to the overpopulated cityscapes.
According to Statista.com, “Green tourism has been promoted over the recent years due to growing concerns about environmental sustainability in many different countries worldwide. New and existing companies now offer advice and reviews on the best eco-friendly hotels in any location. TripAdvisor, for example, launched its GreenLeaders programme… to monitor the ‘green’ practices of hotels….”
This is potentially a highly profitable reason to run a green lodge in South Africa, especially one in a nature reserve or conservation area. John J Coetzee, CEO at Green Worx Cleaning Solutions states; “As technology rises there seems to be an equal balance of holiday goers seeking a break from the chaos of modern day cities. We are seeing a pull to eco-friendly reserves. With the increase in demand for natural-living, we also see the standards of being green and maintaining an eco-friendly facility increasing.”
Lodges are seemingly being held to higher standards. Operating in a way that maintains and promotes the preservation of nature and animals has arguably become one of the most crucial elements of managing a lodge. “The onus is on leaving no trace,” Coetzee continues. “We have a responsibility to enhance the environments we inhabit, by ensuring that we do all that we can to eliminate any unnecessary waste or pollution. To quote the old adage ‘we should leave the place better than we found it’.”
Building with eco-friendly materials is not always enough. Even in establishments where strategies are being employed to reduce waste, some environmental (and human) dangers persist. For example, the use of grey water for recycling water is only safe if the correct green cleaning procedures are followed. If not, these systems could be doing more damage than good, introducing chemical-rich water into the surrounding habitats.
Coetzee advises that Grey Water Management is an essential part of running a green lodge or hotel. “It is critical that this grey water is made safe for the environment. Chemical suds left in grey water can be harmful when used for irrigation while developing a strong unpleasant odour. However, with enzymatic greywater treatment products dispensed into the water tank – then circulated by agitation and, if possible, aerated – the bio-enzymes will degrade all organics in the water. This will effectively clean the water, which can then be reused safely.”
The benefits of owning and/or managing a green lodge in the current tourism climate are seemingly great. To take advantage of these benefits and, hopefully, also play a part in helping to reduce waste and improve on the global green status, it is imperative that lodges not only build green but clean green as well.