Our Green Ethos
It’s not just about being trendy and saving money. Being Green is an ethos – a way of life we all need to adapt to and embrace. We’ve done quite a bit since we bought the place in early 2015 and there’s still a more to do.
From the outset 8 years ago, Mackaya Bella Guest House has been conceptualized as a green orientated establishment. We continually strive to offer our guests not only a relaxing and enjoyable stay, but at the same time, to take as little out of the environment as possible whilst putting as much back in, leaving a minimal sized footprint. We have attempted this is several ways:
Solar assisted geysers: With an abundance of sunshine almost year round in KZN, we are perfectly situated to take advantage of solar assisted geysers. These geysers only allow grid electricity to be applied during peak usage times and when and if it does, the water has been kept to a usable temperature, ensuring electricity flow is kept to a minimum.
LED energy saving devices: Out with the old and in with the new. We are on a quest to upgrade the establishment from the older style of electrical devices, such as TVs and lights that guzzle electricity, to the newer and lighter mode of LED’s. It’s a lengthy and expensive transition, but we are already seeing the difference in savings, plus the piece of mind that this will ultimately make a difference in our overall consumption of power.
Recycling: This is where we talk dirty! We split all our glass, plastic, tin and paper and ensure that it goes to the correct recycling channels. We also collect all of our organic off cuts (be it vegetable & fruit peelings, leftover meals, mowed grass, fallen leaves etc) and process it into a liquid folia plant fertilizer. This is a project that we are very proud of, as although basic, we are able to harvest this valuable commodity and put it straight back into our garden, which is always flourishing and abundant and at the same time uses very little water to maintain.
In the office we keep all scrap paper to print on the reverse side and any old, electronic equipment is donated to the Electric Cemetary – where it’s broken down then recycled and donated to worthy charities.
Load shedding and black outs: A South African favourite! Always inconvenient and frustrating, it has now spawned a whole new demand on alternate power sources, most of which are very costly. Some end up being just as harmful to the environment and place similar strain on the power grid, although indirectly. Generators are a fine example. Although power is supplied during an outage, the demand on fuel is increased, then there is the high noise pollution, plus the added carbon emission from the exhaust, not to mention the high cost of the equipment. At Mackaya Bella, we rather choose to find something else to do when our computers and TV’s are not working and with our LED emergency lights in each room plus our Solar geysers, minimal inconvenience is experienced and tranquility remains intact.
Education and changing mindsets: Part of our ongoing commitment to reducing our carbon footprint is by educating those around us. By training staff to turn off lights/TV’s/Air Conditioners, using grey water for the gardens, reporting dripping taps, using gas ovens instead of electric, keeping organic matter for recycling etc, they not only help our guest house to become more energy efficient, but the ladies take this information home with them and hopefully educate their communities. Guests are also asked to keep water usage to a minimum with Water Saving signs in each room, asking not to wash towels every day unless absolutely necessary and keeping shower times to a minimum.
Products: Bare Essentials is our main supplier and they provide us with locally designed and manufactured (low carbon footprint) products and environmentally-friendly biodegradable cleaning products that conform to international standards. They are paraben free, predominantly organic and not tested on animals.
Water from Air
We’ve just purchased a wonderful new machine that makes Water from Air! Yes, you read that correctly. Water from Air captures the moisture from the humidity present in the atmosphere and uses this to produce drinking water. Because the Water from Air unit works by harvesting the humidity in the air, it also acts as an effective dehumidifier to keep us healthy and improve the performance of other home appliances. To ensure that the water produced is of the highest quality, Water from Air utilises multiple filtration technology.
Water from Air provides a sustainable, low cost, safe, clean and reliable water supply with a low environmental impact – a great alternative to established water sourcing and bottling plants.
With the amount of renewable water in the earth’s atmosphere ( water vapour), estimated to be around 12,504 cubic kilometres, there is certainly an unlimited source of water to harvest from. According to NASA, “some 495,000 cubic kilometres of it are cycled through the atmosphere every year. It is as if the entire amount of water in the air were removed and replenished nearly 40 times a year.”
According to a study by the Pacific Institute in California, as well as numerous other reputable sources, it requires the equivalent of 1.5Kwh of energy to supply a litre of bottled water. Whereas, Water from Air requires 0.33Kwh of energy to produce a litre of Water from Air. That’s a reduction of 78% in energy use. And best of all – it’s a South African company based here in Durban. Gotta love that!
Indigenous gardens: When Mackaya Bella was established, an indigenous garden theme was chosen. Due to carefully chosen plants, the garden always has something in bloom year round and requires very little water to sustain it. With the Province frequently experiencing near drought conditions, we are happy to say we use very little water on its upkeep.
Rain water harvesting and irrigation: A rain water harvesting system has been installed in order to make water available to the gardens through a micro mist jet irrigation system. These systems are by far more efficient than the old hose & sprinkler methods and ours are fed by water collected from the heavens above. It’s an ongoing project, so as time goes on we hope to increase our holding capacity from the present 3200lt to well over 5000lt. We have also started to collect our grey water, from sinks and showers. At the moment it’s quite primitive – we stand in big, shallow buckets inside the shower and then carry the water out to our Jojo tank. Don’t worry – it’s only us and our staffs shower water, not guests – yet this saves us about 100litres a day.