If you want to fall in love this Valentine’s Day, fall in love with the planet. That is why I decided to share some environmental love from Gondwana’s side.
While many people are still struggling to become accustomed to sipping smoothies through paper straws and to remember packing recyclable shopping bags, the Earth’s alarm is sounding louder than ever. From a melting Arctic to intense droughts plaguing our own country and the rainy season becoming shorter and less fruitful, some of us are wondering what else we could do to alleviate the planet’s suffering. How do we achieve large-scale involvement, and more than that, dedication to ensure positive impact?
Here are 10 ways Gondwana is taking responsibility for the planet:
- Going solar in the Namib, Kalahari and at the Chobe River
Nestled against the fossilised dunes, Namib Desert Lodge has 65 en-suite rooms all equipped with air-conditioners. These mod cons are eco-friendly thanks to the 1,700 solar panels that were installed in 2014. Generating 200,000 kWh of electricity per year, they cover 50% of the lodge’s energy needs.
Chobe River Camp’s chalets, designed in an environmentally friendly manner, were equipped with solar geysers in March 2017.
In October 2018, Gondwana began constructing shaded parking bays with roofing consisting of solar panels. They cover 50% of each lodge’s energy needs, including The Desert Grace, Kalahari Anib Lodge and Kalahari Farmhouse.
- Crushing glass
In 2016, The Gondwana Collection Namibia has acquired glass crushing machines to help clean the environment as well as manage waste glass at the lodges. Each glass crusher machine grinds an estimated 120 to 150 kg of glass per hour into non-hazardous glass sand. The glass sand replaces gravel in cement used for building projects. This is how the pathways around The Desert Grace were built.
- Eliminating plastic
In an effort to reduce and eventually eliminate plastic water bottles at our lodges, Gondwana contracted a global brand – Natura – that has been operational for over 26 years. They provide purified water dispensing taps. This means guests still get to enjoy fresh water, minus the usage of disposable plastic bottles.
Gondwana has joined the anti-plastic straw movement by using biodegradable paper straws instead. These are then added to the compost heaps after use. Jam and butter at breakfast buffets are now placed in reusable glass jars.
- Responsible solid waste disposal
Since October 2017, Gondwana has been in partnership with Rent-a-Drum – a recycling company in Namibia – to recycle the waste coming from the lodges. The lodges’ main suppliers, SeaPride and African Marketing, agreed to transport waste from the lodges to their facilities in Windhoek, where Rent-a-Drum picks it up. This in turn eliminates unnecessary transport just for waste disposal.
- Multiple functions for used sunflower oil
Since 2018, the Gondwana Lodges have been sending used cooking oil to BEE, a biofuel manufacturing company in Swakopmund. They refine the oil to make a degreaser. It is then reused at the lodges to clean pans, and as biodiesel used for lawnmowers and older model vehicles instead of diesel.
- Waste water treatment plant
Namibia is an arid country where water is scarce, so farmers and lodges rely on the aquifers beneath them. Each lodge has a water sanitation plant, where the used water is cleaned and reused in the gardens. The excess water that is not used by the plants and trees sinks back into the ground and replenishes the aquifer.
- Self-sufficiency Centre
Appetising lodge buffets offer a large selection of fresh salads, dairy and meat products thanks to the Gondwana Self-Sufficiency Centre (SSC). It is a farming initiative that includes chickens, pigs and cattle, and runs greenhouses, a butchery and a smokehouse. Located near Stampriet, the green pastures and vineyards in the middle of the Kalahari Desert are proof that oases truly exist. The SSC’s production could cover up to 70% of the demand of Gondwana’s accommodation establishments.
- Plant-a-Tree Day
To reduce our carbon footprint, Gondwana has been organising “Plant-a-Tree Day” since September 2017. All the lodges take part in planting trees at the individual properties. For 2019, Gondwana is aiming to plant 2019 trees throughout the year.
Kalahari Anib Lodge has added a fun activity to their services in June 2016 – guests can discover the Kalahari dunes with electric fat-bikes. These were also introduced at Namib Desert Lodge and The Desert Grace in 2018. The activity will be expanding to the Canyon Lodges later this year.
- Migrations and return of the animals in the Gondwana Parks
Gondwana has three large parks in the southern part of Namibia – Gondwana Canyon Park at 30,000 hectares, followed by the Gondwana Namib Park at 11,000 hectares and the Gondwana Kalahari Park at 9,800 hectares. The Canyon and Namib Parks have removed fences between them and their neighbours as well as the State-owned park. This means animals, many of them endemic to Namibia, can migrate in the area. This has resulted in the exciting return of some of our large predators. The spotted hyena and leopard have been spotted in the Canyon Park, while brown hyena and cheetah have returned to the Namib Park.
The earth unfailingly provides us with air to breathe, fresh water to drink, wholesome foods to eat, healing herbs to cure illness, and a playground to practice some of our favourite hobbies. If that is not love, I don’t know what is. And since February is internationally known as the month of love, why not pour some love back onto the planet?
How do you reduce your carbon footprint? Share your tips in the comments below.
Annelien Robberts is an avid wordsmith who turns her pen to all things travel, culture, and lifestyle. She was born in a small town called Otjiwarongo and grew up on a farm nearby. Creativity, nature and animals make her happy.