What is my favourite Reason and Why? That is the question that was asked of me recently. Hearing about the 36 IUCN Red List Species and the Human Wildlife Conflict taking place out there affects me deeply, but what can I do aside from donating a few Dollars to the professionals or become that professional myself? I mean how hard can it be; aside from qualifying (roughly seven-year degree and then some) and leaving my small children to commit my whole being to another life? And as I sit in the middle of Johannesburg, the plight of the near-extinct black rhino and the troubled sea turtle seem like some nasty nightmare in some faraway place.
I’m a practical person! I need something tangible to do and therefore while Reason No. 1 – Environment is at the Heart rings most true to me, I think that No. 3 – A Light Camp Footprint resonates with me the most, especially as I can manipulate the words to suit my daily life: A Light Footprint. And if you make the pledge to “tread lightly” and remove those “big boots” that slay all the critters along the way, you are in fact committing to No. 1 too.
So here’s how I am learning from the Wilderness Safaris camps and how I believe we can all use the same ideas in our daily lives at home and at work:
1. The water bottle: handed to every guest on arrival at their first camp, this ingenious little trick will save many a plastic bottle from the Earth’s growing landfills. Water coolers are always on hand for the refill.
Learning: Always keep a water bottle on hand and fill it up with tap water (or tap water cooled in a fridge). Pledge to never buy bottled water again!
2. The Amenities: Wilderness Safaris provides environmentally-sound products that protect the environments in which it operates.
Learning: Buy soap and products that are Earth-friendly; meaning they contain natural products that are farmed sustainably.
3. Towel Policy: Towels not placed in the laundry basket are hung up and dried for the same guest to reuse.
Learning: A towel is mostly used to dry a clean body or hands, and therefore can be kept out of a washing machine for quite some time – thus cutting down on oodles of water and electricity being used.
4. Using buckets and general water saving: In many of our camps, there are buckets in every shower which are used to collect water as the guest waits for it to warm up (most camps use nifty solar geysers for heating water). The housekeepers then use this water to clean the rooms.
Learning: A totally painless saving all round. Collect the water that would usually run down the drain and reuse it to drink, wash dishes etc. Given that potable water is finite, it is important that we all do our part in being frugal with this precious resource.
5. Saving electricity: Guests are encouraged to use electricity sparingly. What’s more, Wilderness Safaris is slowly but surely moving towards alternate energy usage. At least 12 of our camps are now 100% powered by solar, while many are partially run by solar with other clever contraptions like invertors.
Learning: Google “save electricity” and you will be inundated with tips and tricks to save electricity. An even better alternative would be to go solar… but either way, make sure that all the electronics you buy in the future are as eco-friendly as possible.
6. Camp construction: Wilderness Safaris “assemble” their structures rather than “construct” as they avoid bricks and cement as much as possible. Most of their camps are canvas and thatch tented structures built off the ground on FSC-certified timber.
Learning: While the most environmentally-friendly idea would be to buy a tent, I’m afraid it will take some effort to make it as homely as the Wilderness Safaris one! For the time being, try and source locally produced goods in any construction work, and make sure you use chemical-free paints and organic building materials where you can.
7. Recycling and composting: Recycling is a hard and fast rule at Wilderness Safaris. Composting can be tricky given that waste food can attract animals and trigger undesirable behaviours. Worm farms have, however, proved to be the safest form of composting.
Learning: No rocket science here. Recycle your rubbish if you cannot reduce or reuse it. As you most likely don’t live in the wilderness, compost your perishables or set up a worm farm.
There are plenty more concepts where all this comes from. For example, clearing alien plants and replacing them with indigenous ones that don’t use as much water… but now I’m encroaching on Reasons no.5 and no.14. Which just goes to show how intertwined all these issues (and our Reasons) are.
Written by Monica Jooste