Many Capetonians in the CBD may have noticed men and women watering plants on traffic islands with buckets. Investigations reveal them to be staff members of the Townhouse Hotel on the corner of Mostert and Corporation streets, who are helping save water by recycling shower water used by hotel guests.
It was the brainchild of GM Jacqueline Williams. “I was driving home one afternoon and I heard someone on the radio mention that she showers with a bucket to catch water and then recycles it in her garden. My husband laughed when I asked him to buy me buckets but two weeks later he commented on how much our family had been able to collect. That was when I thought about the impact we’d have if we involved the Townhouse Hotel guests and staff in a similar initiative.”
After some design work and bucket-buying, all 107 rooms now have a bucket and a room card explaining what it is for, how to use it and where the water will be recycled. Williams says that guests are enthusiastic about the programme. “We’ve even had a few suggestions from guests on how to maximise our efforts,” says Williams.
Between 21 and 26 January, 81 buckets full of grey water were distributed between the Townhouse’s small front area, the pavement trees and plants on traffic islands near the hotel.
“We are committed to eco-friendly systems and practices,” says Williams, “and the shower bucket project is a visible illustration of these values.”
This initiative highlights the Petousis Group of hotels’ sustainability business strategy. The Townhouse Hotel, and its sister hotels, the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands and Oude Werf Hotel in Stellenbosch, are committed to reducing their impact on the environment and working towards a sustainable future.
Petousis Group Environmental Manager, Chris van Zyl, notes that the Cape Town hotel group has won many awards for their efforts in this regard: “Besides continually striving to reduce energy and water consumption, we’ve reduced the amount of hotel waste that ends up in landfills to a meagre 6%. At the Townhouse Hotel, a percentage of all conference delegates’ fees go to greening projects. In addition, staff members assist with initiatives such as bread-tag collection, beach and river clean-ups, alien clearing and community gardens.”
Williams is hoping the shower buckets will prompt staff to institute similar initiatives at home and in their communities. “Although housekeeping cleans the rooms and collects the shower water, the whole hotel participates in watering the gardens,” she says.
“We also hope that others in the hospitality industry, who hear about the efforts of our team and our guests, will do their bit to save water during the drought and going forward.”