When we hear the word Sustainable everyone seems to think its something very big. When I first heard of Sustainability…I too thought it was something very big and at first, I did not even want to be involved because it meant we must be wanting to talk about the environment and eco related issues, maybe even global warming! Do not get me wrong, not that I do not care about global warming and eco related issues, I do, just that I thought it would be another of those…serious but boring issues that people do not want to talk about, even though we know, we must talk about them because they are a threat to the human race survival.
So it got me thinking…what really is sustainability? Sustainability put in its simplest definition is “the ability or capacity of something to be maintained or sustain itself.”
Think about these words “ability to sustain itself.” Basically creating an almost never – ending life span to this something.
It is at this point, when I felt I needed to join into this conversation of sustainability, especially in areas that I could help make a change. As I read and researched more on sustainability, I realized it was necessary for me to be involved and it wasn’t just about the big things that I could do, but the little things that I could do. It was a need to think big in a small sphere….
You must be at that point where you are wondering now what is she ranting about? Here is a simple break down.
Kenya has suffered massively in the tourism industry because of security issues or political disagreements, but slowly she has learned.
In the past five years, Kenya set up a regulatory body that would regulate all tourism enterprises. Organizations such as Eco –tourism Kenya are more vibrant in eco-rating facilities and recently launched eco-rating of domestic destinations in Kenya.
Tour operators have also joined in the path to promoting sustainability in Kenya’s tourism industry.
For example, the company I work for, Uniglobe Lets Go Travel has taken key measures in becoming a future proof company. And they are one of the many tourism entities that are working towards better sustainability practices and goals.
To survive there are things that as a company and as humans, we need to have assurance of in future such as water, energy etc. However, if we are misusing these and not saving them as we are saving money for the future, what future are we looking at?
Sustainability means taking full account on current and future, on the basis of economic, social and environmental impacts, therefore it meant as a person and as a business, we needed to Sustainable inclusive for the sake of future proofing and longevity in the tourism industry.
Being one of the best practice companies in Kenya, Uniglobe Lets Go Travel agreed that they needed to go back to basics, which meant starting from the office, all the old habits had to change.
They started by changing the taps that they had, to taps that emitted less water, as well as changing our lighting system to using energy saving bulbs. They also started litter separation process where we had 3 bins, plastics (bottles), orgarnic (banana peels) and solid waste (metals, pens etc).
The next move was to deal with the paper that was used in the office, already they were purchasing ISO certified paper, but what would happen after you had printed on both sides of the paper? So they purchased a paper shredder machine, where after double side printing, instead of disposing the paper, we would shred it, pack it in sacks then take it up to Limuru (up country), where it would be used to make charcoal briquettes, which would be distributed to some local charity home and serve as fuel.
They then started conscious selling, which was already there…but not being practiced at its best. On the itineraries they were selling to clients, they now give preference to properties (hotels & lodges) that are eco-rated as well as created their own sustainability criteria form that all hotels, lodges and camps which we sell must fill in.
They then created packages that involved community based tourism such as Il Ngwesi Lodge (which is run and managed by the local community) and humanitarian projects (such as One Horizon). These all were to strengthen the link to sustainability in the tourism business.
This is just one entity in Kenya trying to position Kenya on the sustainable tourism destination map. Yes, I admit we have a long way to go, but it also means, we now have a pathway to being a preferred sustainable safari and beach destination, therefore if you are looking for a safari and beach getaway which speaks volume on conservation and sustainability, keep Kenya in mind.