I recently wrote a piece on the 2023 Travel Trends, where I compared Juliet Kinsman‘s article to the strides and leaps Londolozi has been pursuing for nearly 100 years through the Londolozi Conservation Development Model. All of us here at Londolozi are proud to see that travellers are increasingly recognising the importance of sustainable tourism and are actively seeking out destinations that prioritise conservation, sustainability, and community upliftment.
With April being dedicated to Earth Month, I was eager to do some more research, and yet again, I found myself reading another of Juliet’s pieces on the 10 ways to check how green your hotel really is. Not only is Juliet’s checklist important for hotels and lodges in the tourism industry to measure their own alignment, but also for the way in which travellers should be thinking when they are planning a trip and basing their decisions on these factors too.
When I travel, I’m very critical and question the way I travel as well as my travel impact. We, as the Londolozi family, hope that our guests do just that too – take into consideration the impact that their stay has not only on the environment but also, what efforts the destinations they are visiting make to mitigate their own footprint on the earth. Juliet’s piece made me reflect on Londolozi’s sustainability efforts, so today I thought I’d compare Londolozi’s commitments to sustainability with those she has outlined in her article for Condé Nast Traveller.
So, Is your hotel really eco-friendly? These are the 10 ways to check how green your hotel is:
1. Learn how to measure impact
Ultimately, businesses need to measure positive and negative impact with a clear aim to keep doing better. Is the hotel or operator you’re considering demonstrating that their teams actively track this? It can be challenging to quantify impact, but companies must be action-oriented. Action needs to be tangible – we need to know how they’re supporting initiatives to tackle issues such as poverty and gender equality, as well as supporting marginalised people, conservation and environmental protection. This might mean messages laced with statistics, or showing that there is a clear company-wide directive around a specific goal.
Londolozi’s conservation journey has spanned almost 100 years; we have thus compiled our successes and learnings on our sustainable journey without end into the Londolozi Impact Report as well as on our Londolozi Impact Website. Here, we invite our online family to engage with us, receive updates, and learn more about why we are of the belief that the restoration of the planet will only come out of a profound shift in human consciousness.
2. Prioritise decarbonisation – not carbon offsetting
Carbon accountancy is a priority, but there should be an emphasis on reducing the cause of emissions – not just offsetting through third parties. Smaller-scale guesthouses and independent travel agents are likely to have smaller footprints than bigger companies.
At Londolozi, we understand and acknowledge the significant impact that tourism has on our environment, and we are committed to reducing our carbon footprint. To achieve this goal, we have implemented several initiatives to practice carbon offsetting and decarbonization. Our Landcare and sustainability team has been operational at Londolozi since 1972, with its sole purpose dedicated to the restoration and care of the land. We are currently at the forefront of renewable energy, including solar energy usage, and have the intention of migrating to a full fleet of battery-powered safari vehicles, by our centenary year in 2026. Our water recycling treatment plant is one of the most advanced systems in the Southern Hemisphere, and in 2022, the lodge drew up to 80% of its energy requirements from solar. We are ardently committed to reducing our waste and searching for alternative methods of conducting business on the path to achieving our eventual goal of closed-circuit consumption models in harmony with nature. We believe that Londolozi is an example of how using modern technology to support new systems for living, creates a lighter footprint on the land.
Londolozi is a working example of how technology can be utilised to reduce impact within a wilderness reserve and lower demand for finite resources such as water and energy.
3. Book locally-owned businesses and hotels with sustainability experts
Leaving as much money as possible in local pockets is a big win when it comes to economic sustainability. Thumbs up for locally-owned businesses helmed by a personality who is invested in the environment and community. Smaller companies, B&Bs and conservation-funding accommodations are likely to be better custodians of their coordinates in terms of looking after their neighbours and investing in that destination’s infrastructure.
Londolozi is a family-owned operated business, and we have always been wholeheartedly committed and passionate about working with local businesses and experts who share our values and are dedicated to preserving the environment and wildlife in our area. In Africa, you are always living in connection, and the Londolozi Village consciousness is alive and well. We live by the guiding principle of Ubuntu: I am because we are. This philosophy is deeply embedded in the Londolozi way. Your stay at Londolozi has far-reaching ripple effects on many people’s lives within the communities surrounding Londolozi. The Londolozi Ripple Fund supports local entrepreneurs but has also, for many years, supported two NGOs: The Good Work Foundation and the Tracker Academy. We offer community tours to our guests, where we will take you to visit the Londolozi Ripple Fund entrepreneurs, farmers, Good Work Foundation campuses, and Tracker Academy training centre. Seeing the physical impact that your stay has on so many individuals and their family’s lives is a sure way to bring deep gratitude for our Londolozi family, for being apart of making an actual difference.
Stay in the Ripple
To stay connected, we have established a Londolozi Ripple Fund Impact site where you can follow regular updates on projects and donations as they unfold and follow work that has already been successfully completed. If you would like to receive the Londolozi Ripple Fund Impact newsletter, please let us know at email@example.com
6. Nature Positive
When a company can express what its teams are doing to boost biodiversity and support large-scale conservation significantly, they’re a serious player. It’s important to consider how a trip or stay helps protect wilderness, funds rewilding projects, leads to improved soil health, or supports scientific research.
The very essence of Londolozi.
Londolozi is not just a game reserve, it’s a way of life. The reserve and its staff embody the concept of being nature positive, a term used to describe people and organisations that actively seek to improve their relationship with nature. At Londolozi, this approach is evident in everything we do. From our luxurious accommodation and world-class hospitality to carefully curated wildlife experiences, we strive to create a harmonious balance between humans and the natural world. Our team of passionate and knowledgeable rangers and trackers, and the whole Londolozi staff contingent, all share a deep appreciation and respect for the environment and work tirelessly to preserve and protect it for future generations. Whether on safari or in camp, guests can feel the positive energy and connection to nature that permeate every aspect of the Londolozi experience and staff contingent.
7. Reduce waste
The litmus test for a hotel or company when it comes to waste is whether they honour the five Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle. You know how this goes. Are they refusing unnecessary packaging from suppliers? Are they aggressively reducing disposability? Do they push the reuse of bedsheets and towels or refillable containers in their kitchen or amenities in bathrooms? Do they repurpose materials or furnishings? Are they composting to the max and sending as little as possible to landfill? Hotels with a better back-of-house are often vocal about how they go the extra mile with recycling. Globally, the greatest rubbish generator is food waste.
This is a huge focus for Londolozi.
Londolozi is dedicated to preserving the environment and is committed to waste management in a responsible and sustainable way, with the 5 Rs being a key pillar of our village. A number of initiatives have been running for years, to reduce our waste output and ensure that all waste is disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner. Our composting system turns food waste into compost, which is then used to fertilise the organic Londolozi village gardens. Our waste centre recycling system ensures that all waste is sorted on site, and we have established partnerships with local recycling companies to ensure that all recyclable materials are disposed of in the proper way – down to our food waste taken off to our local pig farmer. Around our staff village, we have a number of awareness campaigns to educate all staff and guests about the importance of waste management and how to properly dispose of waste.
Read more about our sustainability projects and plastic-free philosophy here.
8. Pay attention to philanthropy
It’s heartening when you see companies donate to charity or have a foundation – but it’s all the better if they’re a good business in every way.
Philanthropy takes on many forms, whether you are donating to a charity, or spending time on Mandela Day contributing your 60 minutes of giving back. Philanthropy is essentially any charitable act improving the lives of others. For many years Londolozi has enriched and furthered the lives of countless individuals, organizations, and wildlife protection through the Londolozi Ripple Fund. This is the very essence of what Londolozi is, and it is a beautiful thing.
The Ripple Fund’s focus is on community upliftment, rural education, healthcare, and the creation of safe havens for iconic species and other wildlife to roam freely. These are just some of the ways in which your safari is already having a “ripple effect” in the neighbouring villages and families that live in and around Londolozi.
Inspired by the forces of nature, The Londolozi Ripple Fund has been founded on the belief that small actions by a few can create wide-ranging “ripple effects” which have the propensity for changing and improving the lives of many for generations. The fund speaks to individuals and guests who are able and willing to contribute to making a better world ~ 2001, Chris Kane-Berman, Londolozi’s Managing Director.
9. Walking their talk?
We love being shown, not just told, the specifics of how a hotel is genuinely sustainable. Provenance is paramount: from buying local to keeping cash in the community, as well as expressing all of what we’ve pondered above, from measuring emissions of every link in their supply chain to how green their national grid is if they’re plugging into the mains. Look out for hosts who also teach guests and educate and express to all the mechanics of what makes the company more sustainable, proactively inspiring behavioural change from all who learn from them – from back-of-house tours to science-based impact reports.
Today’s travellers need to be particularly aware of how greenwashing may be affecting their travel decisions. It’s one thing to claim that your practices are eco-friendly and sustainable, but it’s entirely another when you are actually living it. It makes me so proud to be a part of an organisation that really does walk its talk – in every aspect of the business. Community is at the heart of everything we do. We invite our guests to take a closer look behind the scenes and integrate further into the Londolozi family, by joining us on a guided village walk tour of our Futuristic African Village. Here, you’ll be able to walk in Nelson Mandela’s footprints, and have an educationally enriching experience by learning about our sustainable philosophies firsthand, visit our village gardens and indigenous nursery, solar farm, wastewater treatment plant, kitchen, digital learning centre, creche and so much more.
10. Ask more questions
Let’s all keep advancing awareness by asking more difficult questions and requesting qualifications around all eco claims. If a new-build urban hotel’s only sustainability initiative is that the chef sources salad from a farmers market, that might be a red flag. If they tell you they have banned all single-use plastic entirely, ask them if this includes clingfilm in their kitchens and every aspect of their deliveries. Keep pushing. Keep checking. Keep being curious.
We would like to believe that our guests are searching for locations that live by these 10 points each and every day. While we still have a long way to go, living sustainably is a continuous challenge in a modern world, we must never stop asking questions and testing ourselves. Each failure, and there have been many at Londolozi, has brought us as a village of great wisdom and learning: three steps forward, two steps back.
Our sustainability journey is alive and well, and we will never stop exploring and searching for solutions for leaving as little footprint on the earth, and Londolozi, as possible.