Plastic is fantastic as part of a smart educational initiative

by MMC
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Tourvest’s Lemala Camps & Lodges in Tanzania are the champions of ecological tourism.

Plastic is having a huge impact on tourism – and it’s not by providing the credit card payment method for a dream vacation. A lodge in Tanzania identifies multiple ways to turn hazardous waste into a force for good.

“In the face of this growing environmental threat to Africa and its people, Tourvest’s Lemala Camps & Lodges in Tanzania offers solutions that eliminate plastic for good,” says Leanne Haigh, CEO of Lemala Camps and Lodges.

The World Health Organization warns that Africa’s growing population and urbanization is leading to an increase in single-use plastic, increasing environmental pollution and health threats. Africa will exceed current levels of 5% of global plastic production if nothing is done to stem the tide of waste. Every year, more than 400 million tonnes of plastic are produced worldwide and around 19 to 23 million tonnes end up in lakes, rivers and seas.

Considering that less than 10% of the world’s plastic production is recycled, the CEO of Lemala Camps and Lodges, part of the Tourvest group, is actively seeking solutions to protect the local community, the economy and the ecosystem at wider. They confront the scourge with constructive and intelligent opportunities not only to address the waste challenge, but also to insert derivative solutions that benefit surrounding communities.

“We do not accept the status quo and work hard to get ahead of the curve,” says Judi Nwokedi, Sustainability Director at Tourvest Group. “Our initiatives represent environmental firsts in tourism and other sectors.”

Tourvest was the first in Africa to offer 100% biodegradable and plastic-free lunch boxes and to have completely eliminated plastic straws. But not all initiatives are always visible to guests: the floor of the entrance to a venue is made up of 100% recycled plastic bottles.

In an innovative move, Lemala Camps & Lodges is also removing plastic from parks and transforming it into school desks and chairs – a huge success thanks to a powerful partnership with Dunia Designs.

“Not only are we removing and reusing plastic for the common good, but we are also promoting quality education for all. We see education as a force for change, especially on the African continent,” says Nwokedi.

Sub-Saharan Africa continues to have the lowest participation rate in higher education, despite enrollment doubling globally between 2000 and 2013 in all regions of the world. Recently, the World Bank called for forward-thinking systems to reverse the trend of learning poverty in Africa. With an estimated 323 million school-age children (3-18 years) currently living in Eastern and Southern African countries, it is important to create change that matters.

Tourism is a tremendous catalyst for change because of its major reach into the heart of Africa and the industry’s ability to work closely with communities in many regions.

“Our intention at Tourvest is to harness the power of education to change lives and so this is more than usual for us. We work to bring the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to life, from helping to reduce climate change to promoting quality education, scholarships and learning opportunities on the field,” says Nwokedi.

Better education also opens the door to new avenues of growth, as more people acquire the skills, resources and capacity to explore the world and seize future opportunities. In addition, education is also a driver of awareness of climate change and the need for everyone to work towards building more sustainable solutions.

For example, the World Health Organization says plastic pollution has various negative health impacts in Africa, affecting both human populations and ecosystems. Plastic waste, especially single-use plastics and microplastics, can contaminate freshwater sources such as rivers, lakes and groundwater. This pollution can lead to the consumption of microplastics via contaminated drinking water, potentially posing risks to human health.

Tourvest’s fight against plastic pollution was recently recognized on the global stage when Lemala Lodge received notable recognition for its innovative work, winning the Best for Tackling Plastic Waste award at the recent prestigious Global Responsible Tourism Awards 2023.

“This highlights the continent’s growing influence and commitment to sustainable travel practices, and we are extremely pleased to have received this level of global recognition for the work we do to promote responsible tourism,” says Nwokedi.

“Our shared dream at Lemala is that our sustainability initiatives inspire other operators in Tanzania – and across Africa. Our hope is that they develop their own projects so that we can all really put our hands on our hearts and say that we are succeeding in making Africa a better place for this generation and for future generations, because we are only the temporary guardians of this land. » concludes Leanne Haigh, CEO of Lemala Camps and Lodges.

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