Celebrating Earth Day 2019 at DAE
In marking Earth Day on 22 April, it made us think about how important it is to look after our natural environment if we are to be able to continue enjoying beautiful beaches, seas and mountains on our holidays. Thankfully, it is also something DAE resort managers are thinking about too, as we discovered.
By Helen Foster
First celebrated as far back as 1970, Earth Day came about to raise awareness of, and to demonstrate support for, the protection of the natural environment around us. Whether it be water, earth or climate, those base elements are all critical in sustaining life on Earth. At its most fundamental, it is our food, drink and essential to our health. Nature’s gifts to us beyond those life-giving essentials are the many wonderful beaches, shores, oceans, seas, mountains, hills, meadows, rocks and rugged landscapes, as well as the rolling countryside, which we all enjoy when we take time out to refresh, relax and rejuvenate on our holidays. The need to preserve and protect our environment is highlighted on 22 April each year in 192 countries, with worldwide events coordinated by the Earth Day Network, the world’s largest environmental group.
Importance of green getaways
Considering the impact to the environment of tourism is known as sustainable tourism practice. A little thought given to the processes used in running a hotel or a resort can go a long way to ensuring our destinations and their local communities stay as amazing as they are for generations to come.
We’ve all seen the requests in holiday accommodation that we keep our towels and linen for the whole of our holiday week. Think of the millions of tourists around the world throwing their towels into the laundry basket, and all that soap used in the washing process being rinsed out into our waterways and oceans the world over, and you can see how a little effort and sacrifice made by the many can make a big difference to reducing the pollution which damages our environment.
Think of the numerous plastic bottles you cast off while out on holiday – and multiply that by the millions thrown away each day by people like yourself; and then think of where all that plastic goes each day, and then please think again before reaching for a fresh plastic bottle or cup.
Siobhan O’Neill, Editor of The Green Hotelier Magazine, said: “The main trends we’re seeing around responsible travel are reducing food waste, water usage and plastic waste, thanks to the Sir David Attenborough effect. It really hit home with people when they saw some of the world’s most beautiful places and oceans drowning in plastic in his TV documentaries.”
DAE’s green machine
We’re relieved to be able to report that DAE is doing its bit towards making our holiday destinations greener places, in every respect. In conjunction with the Green Tourism Awards body, DAE helps to select resorts which are signed up to our holiday exchange program for submission to the Green Tourism Awards. Here are just some of those resorts which have been recognised as working effectively to protect the wonderful environment and local communities around them.
Melfort Village, Scotland, was awarded the Gold Award, which is the highest to be given by Green Tourism Awards. Belton Woods, Lincolnshire, and Slaley Hall, Northumberland, have both received Green Tourism Awards, while Auchrannie Country Club in Scotland was recognised as reducing the impact of its hospitality operation on the environment by using locally sourced foods, removing plastic water bottles from the rooms, offering bike hire on resort and putting bird nesting boxes up around the resort, among other eco-friendly initiatives.
Melfort Village showing the way
Holders of the highest Green Tourism accolade, Melfort Village resort, is actioning so many eco-friendly initiatives that it could make its own TV documentary. This resort is an eco-warrior leading the green charge.
Many of the environmental considerations it has introduced are simple, such as encouraging guests to use the bottle banks situated in accessible places around the resort; decanting milk into re-usable containers; encouraging members to receive communications by email; encouraging paper recycling on site; using recycled paper products (ie: toilet paper, kitchen roll and stationary); using low-energy lighting; encouraging staff to share transport… The list goes on, and is very impressive in its breadth of thinking.
Of course, because timeshare typically sees guests visiting their resorts year-round, and using the local shops, restaurants, markets and such, it is a very sustainable form of tourism in that it supports many local communities. Putting money into the pockets of the local people and communities to create jobs and wealth, and a good standard of living, is a very important way of strengthening the environment.
As tourists and holidaymakers themselves realise the importance of looking after the places they love so much, they are now looking for evidence of a contribution to protecting the environment in the resorts they book into. Like WiFi, operating a sustainable tourism model is becoming a genuine attraction for guests.
O’Neill explained: “Resort developers and hoteliers have the most to lose if there isn’t a focus on sustainable tourism. Rising sea levels and inadequate recycling facilities can devastate resorts. Eventually there will be nowhere left to visit.”
It is an international mindset and movement. For example, The Pavillions Phuket in Thailand proudly announced this week that is has a new ethically sourced and sustainable menu. The menu needed careful planning and the resort created its own organic vegetable garden, as well as identifying suitable local farmers and food producers. Culinary Director and Executive Chef, Rey Ardonia, said: “The Plantation Club at this resort is serious about investing in local foods. That is why our menu is proudly 100% locally sourced. We believe in supporting local farmers and using ethically grown produce with rich, premium flavours, so that we do our part in supporting the community, along with delivering a superior culinary experience to our guests.”
Of course, using local produce, also reduces the carbon footprint of running a resort or hotel, thereby reducing greenhouse gasses produced, which can only make us savour those ethically sourced dishes all the more!
Resorts are starting to use ‘green’ building methods, such as the use of natural materials, which also look lovely against the landscape. On top of that, solar panels are increasingly doing the job of heating a resort’s water for hotel and pool use, as well as heating the rooms in the colder months. Solar power, produced in sufficient supply, can also power cookers, chargers and other techie kit we all use on holiday. Something as simple as placing a huge strengthened glass window along a wall that catches the sun can heat a whole guest area at no cost to either the environment or the resort! Some resorts, having the space in their grounds, plant fast-growing trees which are chopped down on a regular basis and used as wood chippings and pellets in wood-burning or biomass systems, as they are known, to meet the heating requirements of the resort.
Local crafts are seeing a revival, as resorts and hotels turn to local artisans to make their furniture, while accommodations are now being built using the traditional building materials of straw, clay and lime – which not only reduce the ecological footprint, but also offer a perfectly natural climate control by keeping the accommodation cool in summer and warm in winter.
It is great to see our resort managers all thinking of ways in which they can lessen the impact of their business on nature’s bounty – the beauty of the destination in which their resort is built. However, remember to do your bit – and not just on holiday, but at home as well. It is in all our interests not to kill the goose which lays our golden holiday eggs. If you love your holidays, then please show a little TLC for the community and environment around the resort you are holidaying in.
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