Embracing greener behaviour for the wellbeing of the planet is a hallmark of Tsogo Sun’s and is written into the group’s over-riding environmental management policy. But it’s going further than that. Creating awareness and educating stakeholders on greener living has become a strong focus within the environment portfolio.
Candy Tothill, Tsogo Sun’s GM of Corporate Affairs, says that green thinking permeates throughout the business. “We’re extremely aware of the environmental issues the planet is facing, as well as the need for every person to take steps to reduce damaging impact.” Sharing this understanding and knowledge and the commitment to make a difference with stakeholders, including 12 800 full-time employees, guests, and the communities around each of the 108 properties in South Africa, in six other African countries, in the United Arab Emirates, and Seychelles, is a priority.
The practical application of the Tsogo Sun environmental management policy and plan plays out in every property, with detailed attention being given to energy-saving measures (key cards that activate the power in the rooms, heat pumps instead of geysers, correct air conditioners, LED lights, water-saving showerheads, and more), careful waste management with the intention of eventually achieving ‘zero waste to landfill’ that includes extensive reducing, reusing, recycling, and conserving natural resources.
On the back of that, focus is now being given to changing behaviour, educating people and championing initiatives that create awareness and give people a game-plan they can implement. Tsogo Sun has accommodation and venue partnership agreements with Miss Earth South Africa and its sibling organisation, Generation Earth. Miss Earth SA is a leadership programme that annually empowers about 40 young South African women ‘ambassadors’ with knowledge and a platform to make a sustainable difference in combating the destruction of our natural heritage. Each Miss Earth ambassador has a project they are responsible for that includes raising awareness at schools on recycling, energy efficiency and carbon-conscious lifestyle choices, helping schools to plant sustainable food gardens using tunnels, and tree planting. In the past three years, Tsogo Sun and Miss Earth have planted more than 700 trees, going some way towards offsetting the group’s carbon footprint. This year, Miss Earth and Tsogo Sun partnered with Pikitup in Johannesburg in a #WasteStopsWithMe campaign.
In early September, medical student Nozipho Magagula was announced as the 2016 Miss Earth South Africa at a gala dinner at Montecasino that recognised the finalists and ambassadors for the environmental and community work done over this year.
Generation Earth was launched in 2011 and works with 87 urban-based high school councils around the country, comprising about 1 700 learners, as a youth-focused green networking platform – with the youth, for the youth, and by the youth – that recognises and develops green thinkers, nurturing them to become tomorrow’s global green leaders. Every year a Generation Earth Summit is held with hundreds of representatives from the participating school councils, where the youth work on presentations to the next COP, aligned to the COP theme. Last year the Summit delegates prepared presentations on food security and the water crisis and this year the COP22 theme is Climate Change Policy and Practice.
A more recent environmental education initiative by Tsogo Sun together with Miss Earth ambassadors is a one-day Citizenship Seminar for executives and staff to educate them on, among other citizenship priorities, #ChangeClimateChange – and empower them to then educate their colleagues, families and communities on the subject climate leadership, the global realities facing our planet as a result of climate change and what they can do about it.
Says Tothill, “As Generation Earth states, ‘there is no Planet B’. We know that if everyone makes a small difference in their own situations, it will add up to significant change. Tsogo Sun is committed to having a lasting and positive impact on the environment – through taking practical action and facilitating wide-ranging initiatives to reduce the harmful effects that past human behaviour has caused, and we are intent on playing our part in improving conditions wherever possible.”