14 August 2011 by Julienne du Toit

Green Dreams

Here are my requirements for my dream hotel room: a horsehair mattress, bamboo linen, a glass or cellulose bathroom tumbler, a biodegradable laundry bag, non-bleached bathroom tissue and organic soy candles.

The lighting must be low-energy LED and I’d like the air conditioner to be super-efficient and only cool down the bed area, which is where I spend most of the time when I’m in the room anyway.

While we’re on the subject, please make my shower-head a low-flow one and lets have a toilet with a water-wise flush mechanism.

The food should be organic and locally sourced. The staff should be from the surrounding community and be offered upliftment opportunities at every turn.

Also, I would like them to be wearing hard-wearing hemp aprons and uniforms grown without pesticides.

Am I asking too much? Am I too demanding? No, I don’t think so, and a woman called Lorraine Jenks doesn’t think so either.

Lorraine has been in the South African hotel business for absolute ages, and regularly badgered management about introducing green products. Of course, she was cheerfully ignored until Johannesburg was hosting the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002.

Suddenly hotel managers saw the light and Lorraine was put in charge of all kinds of things. The impossible was asked and most of it was delivered.

Since then, Lorraine has moved on and has started 2 complementary industries called Hotelstuff and Greenstuff.

The former is an online directory of suppliers to the hospitality trade and not of direct interest here. Greenstuff is the same thing, but as the name indicates, is a list of green or eco-friendly suppliers.

At a hospitality expo recently, Greenstuff created an entirely ‘green’ hotel room - roughly what I described above, I suppose, minus the staff and the food.

Cheeringly, although Lorraine knows there’s still a long way to go, the signs are good. Recently demand for Greenstuff has grown by 5 000%. In a recession like this, that’s remarkable.

So I have high expectations in sleeping in a sustainably harvested horsehair bed some time soon.

Category: Responsible Tourism

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