You are probably already familiar with the green movement catchphrase, ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ – three actions that focus on reducing waste – achieved through saving raw materials and energy, or by reusing and recycling products. At Anurak Community Lodge, reducing our ecological footprint on the environment has always been an important factor in shaping the direction of our ecolodge, the kind of outdoor activities we offer our guests in Khao Sok and Klong Phanom national parks as well as the products we sell at our gift shop.
1. Reducing Materials and Energy
It might seem like a no-brainer, but one of the best ways to reduce waste is not to make it in the first place. Creating new products uses a lot of different materials and energy. Raw materials have to be extracted from the earth; the product then has to fabricated and transported to a point of sale. Things like plastic bags, disposable cups and cutlery take a huge amount of energy to produce and yet they are only used once, briefly, before being thrown away.
At Anurak Community Lodge, we strive to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases as much as we can by planning our shopping trips in such a way that we save energy, as well as encouraging our guests to share transportation. We avoid purchasing over-packaged goods and try to buy things in bulk – preferably in refillable or returnable containers. We also refrain from using disposable items such as plastic, Styrofoam, cardboard plates, cups, paper serviettes, tablemats, plastic cutlery and other disposable utensils. We also cut down on energy by turning off lights and electrical appliances that aren’t being used, while encouraging our guests to turn off air-conditioning when the weather is cooler.
2. Recycling and Separation
Recycling ensures goods that would otherwise be thrown away can be turned to good use elsewhere, or in some cases, used to produce new products.
At Anurak Lodge, we recycle as much as possible and encourage our staff to do the same. We ask guests to leave their empty plastic water bottles at Anurak Lodge in order to recycle them and we have a water dispenser that provides free, clean drinking water to guests who carry refillable water bottles. While we are not completely paperless, we are proactive in minimizing our paper usage with all our menus and new paper needs relying on recycled products. We have also done away with plastic straws and replaced them with reusable stainless steel and bamboo straws, which guests can also purchase at our Hornbill Restaurant. In our restaurant kitchens we also separate our waste, so that items like plastic bottles and glass can be recycled. What’s more, we donate worn towels, sheets, and tablecloths that cannot be repaired or reused to charity. Badly damaged towels and sheets are converted to cleaning rags or cloths.
3. Food Management and Storage
The amount of uneaten leftovers and spoiled produce that we as humans throw away each day is mind-boggling, with over 90 percent of it ending up in landfills or at incineration facilities. By sustainably managing our food consumption, it is possible to reduce wastage, save money and ensure that our planet’s important food resources are conserved.
At Anurak Lodge we minimize food wastage through portion control, self-service and appropriate food storage. For example, instead of wrapping food in plastic film, we store it in reusable sealed plastic containers, which stops it from spoiling and reduces unnecessary plastic waste. In addition, leftover food from our restaurant is separated and used to make compost for use in our organic garden, where we grow vegetables and herbs for the restaurant.
4. Buying and Selling Recycled Products
When buying new products, it’s important to check the labels – especially those of plastic, paper and metal items – to see if they are made from recycled materials. Certain products are also made from biodegradable materials. For example, some plastic products like straws and shopping bags.
At the Anurak Lodge gift shop, we also sell products from small local businesses, such as handicrafts made from recyclable materials, or created by ethnic groups and local entrepreneurs – especially women’s groups. We also sell organic products and products produced by associations that work to protect the environment. This approach helps to empower local businesses and services, thus generating economic stability and increasing the living standards of local communities in a sustainable way.