In these times of global environmental consciousness, many companies make a lot of noise about being "green" or "eco-friendly". In many cases this is just marketing-speak, with no real commitment from management or staff to make a difference. But in Cape Town there is an hotel which bills itself as "Africa's greenest hotel" and which truly does live up to this - Hotel Verde. This amazing hotel is located adjacent to Cape Town International Airport, in the grim and dusty industrial zone that always seems to exist next to major airports, a most unlikely place for such a forward-thinking enterprise.
The following are just some of the ways that Hotel Verde manages to maintain a carbon-neutral existence:
(1) Bottled water in disposable plastic bottles, the scourge of roadsides and rubbish dumps the world over, is not sold or provided. Instead the hotel has its own water filtration unit that works off the standard water main ; if you ask for drinking water in the restaurant they bring you a GLASS bottle (ie. reusable) of filtered water. And there's no charge for this.
(2) All toilets and urinals are flushed with "grey" water from showers and baths that has been cleansed and sterilized with ultra-violet light (no chemicals are used).
(3) Energy-efficient LED lights are used throughout the building.
(4) Rubbish is minimized by composting of kitchen waste, recycling and "upcycling" (reusing as much as possible for some other, perhaps unrelated, purpose). The goal is to achieve "zero waste to landfill".
(5) The hotel only uses suppliers within a distance of 160 kilometres, thereby supporting local industry and reducing the carbon footprint required for delivery. Only responsible suppliers are used and all packaging is returned to the supplier after goods have been unpacked.
(6) All items like butter, jam and suger in the restaurant are served in reusable glass containers rather than disposable plastic sachets.
(7) The garden around the hotel is entirely indigeneous, and all irrigation is done with "grey" water or rain water.
(8) There are a number of beehives on the property which the hotel uses to pollinate the garden (and, in future, to produce honey for the restaurant).
(9) The swimming pool is naturally filtered and cleaned by indigenous water plants ; no salt, acid or toxic chlorine is used. The water in the pool is so clear you have to look twice to realize that there is actually water there - in the picture on the right, the water extends above the brick-paved section and all the way up to the edge of the plants growing on the side! Look carefully and you'll be amazed.
(10) Rain water is captured in giant tanks and used wherever possible.
(11) Electricity for all hot water cylinders, and much of the rest of the hotel, is provided by a combination of solar panels on the roof and wind turbines (windmills).
I have not stayed overnight in Hotel Verde but I have eaten in the restaurant on two occasions, and I can confirm that this hotel really does walk the eco-friendly talk ; the staff themselves seem to have bought into this, which means that top management must also believe in the environmentally-aware ethos they espouse. All in all, what Hotel Verde have accomplished is extremely impressive, and I salute them and wish them every success in the future. So if you need to stay overnight anywhere near Cape Town International Airport, I urge you to make use of Hotel Verde - I guarantee you will be very comfortable and you'll also be helping the planet.