Christmas parties may be over but to those who have yet to hold one, a group suggests that you embrace the beauty of nature and hold “green functions” in open spaces or gardens instead of indoor events.
“In this way, energy consumption will be lessened and at the same, people can experience the beauty of natural surroundings. Instead of using gift wrappers, you can use newspaper pages (or magazine pages) and make use of eco bags so that it can be recycled. Alternative kitchen wares for papers plates and plastic utensils can be banana leaves, bamboo halves, coconut shells, wooden spoons and forks, and so on. Instead of using artificial flowers, you can make use of fruits or vegetables as substitute décor and at the same time, it can also be eaten by guests.”
This is according to Trixie So, Junior Coordinator for GrAT (Center for Appropriate Technology)-Philippines, one of the NGOs in the country which is helping private institutions thread the sustainable path. GrAT is a scientific association for research and development of Appropriate Technology which has been proposing and demonstrating practical solutions for sustainable development for developing and industrialized countries since 1986.
Spearheaded by Dr. Robert Wimmer, GrAT has many projects under its helm but among the most notable is its Zero Carbon Resorts (ZCR), a project meant to encourage SME companies in the tourism industry such as hotels, resorts and restaurants located in Palawan to switch from the use of fossil fuel to the use of renewable energy sources.
“By introducing solar energy and other green technologies, the carbon footprint of the Palawan tourism industry was significantly reduced. A demonstration building was built with renewable and local materials to showcase a number of innovations with energy efficient technologies. The ZCR Demonstration Building was built in Palawan and now serves as a learning center showcasing tangible solutions and appropriate technologies to the general public,” said So.
To date, 844 ZCR tourism companies in the Philippines have benefitted from the project and 176 in Thailand. In both countries, member SME owners and managers have improved their operations through energy and resource efficient innovations. The accumulated savings of these sample companies for the first three years of project implementation amount to P432,646,422.77, while in Thailand, 21 out of 24 members acquired savings amounting to THB 27,606,426.45.
Best performing project members were recognized internationally. During the last ASEAN Green Hotel Awards (2016-2018), seven out of the 10 awardees from the Philippines are part of the ZCR Community. These are Amarela Resort (Bohol), Amorita Resort (Bohol), Baguio Country Club (Baguio City), The Manor at Camp John Hay (Baguio City), Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort (Cebu), Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort (Palawan) and Pearl Farm (Davao del Norte).
“We believe the new way of technology development should contribute to the improvement of quality of life, yet, it should be responsible for its social and ecological consequences, at the same time,” she said.
The ZCR project also conducts energy assessments and monitoring visits. Their trained experts suggest solutions for increasing efficiency in all aspects of operations of a hotel/ resort including the management of water, energy and waste. The experts also guide the tourism establishments towards achieving resource savings while saving the environment at the same time.
So, how can one be part of a zero carbon community? One does not need to fly to Palawan to do so. One can start within.
“People are already conscious about issues like climate change. Other environmental issues are becoming global topics. Eco-awareness campaigns, seminars and conferences are being regularly conducted. What we can improve on is putting that awareness into practical action in everyday life. There are a thousand creative ways to make a difference — from bringing your own reusable shopping bag instead of buying more plastic or by taking the bicycle instead of the car,” So advised. “Share your positive experience with others. In that way, small steps can make a big difference for all of us.”