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There are numerous lodges scattered throughout South Africa that label themselves ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘green’. But what do these terms mean?

Eco-friendly is a broad term that is bandied about quite freely, but it is often misunderstood to mean ‘sustainable’. Lodges can be both eco-friendly and sustainable at the same time, but the two adjectives refer to different aspects of environmental conscientiousness. A sustainable product is made up of a variety of items that are either completely renewable or are harvested in a way that does not pollute the environment. For example, the sustainable use of a natural resource indicates that the resource is not in short supply. Being eco-friendly applies to the use of sustainable products in ways that minimise environmental impact.

In South Africa, an organisation called Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) advises companies about the steps they need to take in order to become sustainable. FTT’s set of standards ensure better trading, working and living conditions for communities, thereby ensuring a better future for the environment.

So, what makes a lodge eco-friendly? Well, there are numerous aspects to take into account. For example, does it have an efficient recycling programme? Are bio-degradable products bought in bulk to avoid purchasing too many plastic packages; are meals prepared using locally grown produce; and have renewable energy resources such as solar heating and wind power been implemented?

At nThambo Tree Camp in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, in the Greater Kruger National Park, measures have been taken to reduce the establishment’s carbon footprint and minimise its impact on the environment. The aim of the team at nThambo is to intentionally adhere to green guidelines so that guests can stay in a camp that is energy-efficient and non-toxic.

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Currently, these are the methods that have been employed:

1. Recycling: Glass is removed from the property, taken to the nearest town and recycled there. All other garbage is separated and recycled.

2. Solar power: All the lodge’s electricity is generated off the ESKOM grid. ESKOM provides none of the electricity.

3. Grey water & waste water: Used, uncontaminated water is directed into a wetland system and is recycled from there.

4. Cleaning products: All cleaning products are eco-friendly and non-toxic.

5. Elevation of suites: Safari suites are all raised on stilts, ensuring a free flow of air. There are no air-conditioners, which use a lot of power. Instead, fans supply low-energy-use cooling.

6. Firewood: Wood that is burnt and used for fires is brought into camp. nThambo does not remove trees, bushes and sticks from the surrounding bush.

7. Non-permanent camp: nThambo is a non-permanent camp. This means that if it needs to be moved, within a year no traces will remain of there ever being a safari lodge in the location.

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If you’re curious to find out about a lodge’s imprint on its immediate surroundings, ask what environmentally friendly measures are being taken. On a more personal level, we urge you to engage in ethical consumerism. Search out and purchase ethical products or services that are made or carried out without the exploiting humans or the environment.

For more information about Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, go to www.sundestinations.co.za

Ndumu River Lodge
Carolynne Higgins

Carolynne Higgins loves life, sometimes a little bit too much, she admits freely. This quality became evident at university, where she managed nevertheless to finish her degree in English, teach herself web design & SEO, study copywriting and cartooning. She's passionate about photography, writing, sketching, design, travelling and the outdoors. Recently, she has developed an odd obsession with a lion pride in South Africa's Klaserie Nature Reserve, near Kruger. Her interests are sometimes a little bit offbeat as she doesn’t particularly care for the normal, and her 'winging it' approach to travelling has led her into some interesting situations. If something's boring, Carolynne will ensure it becomes an adventure. Her current position at Sun Destinations, a company that handles marketing, sales and reservations for a number of camps and lodges, manages to curb her not-being-able-to-sit-still problem and allows her to write about travel … and travel.