We hear the terms ‘eco-sustainable’ and ‘barefoot luxury’ being bandied around, but what do they really mean? And more importantly, how does not conforming affect our travel?
#1 Single-use plastics
The hospitality industry is one of the largest consumers of single-use plastics. Items like straws, tiny toiletry bottles and plastic shower caps are used once and take hundreds of years for the environment to break down (they’ll still be around when you’re not).
When they get washed into the sea, marine life such as turtles mistake plastic for jellyfish and eat them – leading to disability or death.
What it means to you: Single-use plastic usage = Depleted marine and reef life when diving/diving in a sea of plastic.
Do differently: At Indonesia’s new Bawah Island, there are no single-use plastics in their operations — and best of all, the natural bamboo straws fit right in with the rustic surroundings.
#2 Drinking water
Bottled water incurs a huge carbon footprint as they are often imported from somewhere far away, then there is the cost incurred to dispose of, reuse or recycle the bottles.
Think about a 250 room hotel, at the very minimum its 2 bottles per guest, per day at full capacity –that’ss 182 500 plastic bottles annually which will take the environment 450 years to decompose. From 1 hotel.
What it means to you: All the energy used to produce and dispose of bottled water = global warming = melting ice caps = rising water levels = bye Maldives and Venice.
Do differently: If you’re somewhere with a good water harvesting and treatment facility, then chose filtered tap water over bottled. Soneva Fushi’s commitment includes bottling its own drinking water, still and sparkling.
#3 Eat local & sustainable
Hotels which offer more sustainably sourced local meat, seafood and vegetables on their menus not only reduce their carbon footprint but also contribute by supporting the surrounding community.
Plus, your food will be fresher and preservative free – more bonuses for ordering that Grouper Amok in Cambodia as opposed to the Seared Salmon flown from Tasmania or Norway.
What it means to you: Lack of respect and appreciation for what is local and available = declining diversity = extinction of indigenous species and cultures.
Do differently: Cambodia’s Song Saa Private Island not only champions local produce and grows its own organic veggies, its Song Saa Foundation also helps improve the welfares of the communities in the Koh Rong archipelago and its habitats.
#4 Food waste
Hotels and resorts are notorious for food waste – buffets only look good when abundant, but rarely is all the food from a buffet consumed and hygiene, time and transportation issues prevent it from being donated.
At this juncture, we could ponder the starving communities across the world or the farmer struggling to meet the demand and spraying his farm with chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
What it means to you: Food waste in landfills = more methane gases in the environment (ie greenhouse gases) = impact on snow in mountains and ski resorts ie Niseko.
Do differently: Alila Uluwatu’s ‘Zero Waste to Landfill’ project incorporates a waste processing system, composting and onsite permaculture gardens to provide sustainable, self-sufficient supplies to their hotels.
#5 Energy conservation
Non-renewable sources such as oil and gas are used to create energy such as electricity and transportation, processes which are harmful to the environment.
Reducing energy usage in hotels and resorts means good design and architectural structures, better ventilation or insulation systems, fewer air-conditioners and heaters, using solar panels, energy-conserving lighting and green transportation options.
What it means to you: More energy usage = higher carbon emissions = unpredictable weather and wildlife patterns = no more safaris in Africa.
Do differently: Nihi Sumba is committed to being a carbon-neutral resort on the map.