Many times you’ll see eco hotels, eco lodges, eco vacation etc. and you are wondering what is it that makes this place eco? Since there is no real universal rating like stars in a regular hotel (or Michelin stars for restaurants), where you’d know what to expect, but more different ratings from different organizations, you’ll mostly see only on your vacation, how and why the hotel you booked, is actually eco. For Tembo Kijani we try on our website to give a bit of first information of our green efforts (See Our Dream), but of course in the matter of time, there are more aspects and more ideas also from our side, how to improve our sustainability. So for this I wrote this blog and will tell you a bit more about five details, that you won’t see when you are here, because sometimes it’s the little features behind the scenes that make a difference.
- Keeping the natural environment – The way we found the plot, we want to keep it, disturb as little as possible and if we can, reforest without end. For us this meant
- first to find the empty spots on the plot (or the ones with only dead shrubs) to build the guest units and other buildings – took a lot of crawling in the bush on all four and scratched arms and legs
- when building, we tried our very best to bring in the materials so that we won’t have to flatten the shrubs, trees etc and to have each unit self-sufficient – so no long piping, cables and so on. And yes, all the 4000ft of wooden deck (and the same amount of screws) was carried through the bush down to the beach
- now using waste water for watering plants and planting indigenous trees and shrubs – as a reward we love watching wildlife running around between the Bandas and taking shelter from the hot sun – dik-diks, mongoose, monkeys, lots of birds, genet cats, monitor lizards and even red duikers
- Detergents – In Western countries often you have the option of buying eco detergents; unfortunately here in Tanzania, and especially down here in the bush, you are happy if you get any kind of detergent, and mostly they are not good. But wherever we can, we use household remedies. So for stains in white clothes, we simply use the sun – works perfect. For limescale baking powder works great and even better than anything else we could find. For the last few months we have also started to use a wash ball for our laundry – doesn’t take out the dirt from our clothes after greasing the car (also regular washing powder doesn’t), but it’s doing the job for everything else. Yes, the laundry doesn’t smell as if I added softener, but it doesn’t drive allergic people crazy either.
- Community work – We are not doing what other people understand by community work – we are rather of the opinion “help for self-help”. So we only employ people from the next village, give them a good and reliable income and have them enrolled in the social security system. But it’s not only employment, but rather training and giving a chance to learn a profession. So for most of our employees, we would have to start from scratch, as they are living in a typical African village without running water or electricity; most of them haven’t even been to Dar es Salaam and Pangani is the big city. So teaching housekeeping starts with explaining the bathroom, and teaching kitchen work starts with the explanation that you can also eat carrots raw in a salad. But in the end we can see that our employees start to develop a will to learn and to improve their lifestyle or even start a little business of their own.
- Waste (or no waste) while Shopping – when we are getting our groceries, we not only try to buy local produce, but also to avoid as much waste as possible, because unfortunately here in the bush, we don’t have waste collection (even in the big cities you don’t). So, we buy of course in big quantities, use products that come in glass jars instead of plastic bottles, and our fresh products like fruits and vegetables are brought in raffia baskets. What you as our guest will see from it, are the alu flasks that we use to provide drinking water for free instead of selling bottled water.
- Generator’s electricity – I am reading lots of articles about why renewable energy is not reliable, why it is expensive and not effective and so forth. And I can only agree, totally true. Because, with sun and wind (as the most common sources of renewable energy and also used here in Tembo Kijani) you rely on sources that you cannot control, you cannot control how much electricity you produce, as opposed to fossil fuels. BUT you can use it wisely and use it when you have it and hence reduce the use of fossil fuel. The same applies to everybody, also our lodge – of course we have a generator and we have to use it once in a while, but we do our very best to minimize the usage of it and make most of the electricity that we get from our solar panels and wind turbine – and by the way keeping our place nice and quiet without the noises of a generator because of electricity mismanagement.
We are happy to live here in Tanzania in the bush where we have the challenges to be eco, waver all the options available and actually be creative to find the best one fitting to this place.