Treading Lightly: Our Sustainable Initiatives
Our collective concern about global warming and the threat to our natural environment is increasing. We understand that it is up to all of us to play an active role in the protection of our environment, as well as improve the living conditions for everyone. This heightened awareness of the earth’s crisis is spilling over into the way we run our homes, our businesses, and of course, how we travel.
At Cape Grace, we ensure that we do our best to minimise wastage, reduce our consumption and contribute to a greener, sustainable future for our immediate community and beyond.
Cape Grace has also been a member of The Heritage Environmental Management Company (H.E.M.C) since 2010. Our partnership with them provides effective environmental management and certification solutions, designed to reduce and limit the impact of operations on the environment. Part of the heritage program also involves participating in an annual audit whereby a grading score is issued. Cape Grace recently scored Platinum status in the 2018 audit. As such, our guests can rest easy, knowing that they are supporting a company who truly prioritises sustainability throughout every aspect of our business.
What does that look like practically? We have focused our efforts on various initiatives, steered by our Green Grace Committee – a crew of staff members dedicated to implementing and monitoring these key tasks.
In a water-scarce location, we understand that it is crucial that we do our best to conserve our natural resource. We have been implementing supportive measures to protect this precious commodity since 2016. Some of our key initiatives include the use of hand sanitizers, low-flow showerheads and aerators. Water-wise plants are visible throughout the hotel and greywater is used to irrigate gardens. Bath plugs have also been removed, and our pool is insulated to reduce evaporation by up to 70%. .
We are thrilled to report that we have seen a 35% decrease in our water consumption over the past two years. While we celebrate the fact that the drought has lifted, we have not changed our initiatives to save water. Our water awareness stickers have remained in rooms, our guests still receive hand sanitizers and bath plugs are only issued on request. By having kept to our initiatives we have managed to reduce our water consumption on a continuous basis without compromising on our guest experience.
Within the hotel itself, we only make use of LED lights and encourage the use of natural light as far as possible in the hotel and office areas. There is daily monitoring and corrective actions in place to reduce electrical usage.
We also have an onsite waste sorting area and believe sorting at the source is the best way to increase recycling and limit the amount of waste going to landfills. We have furthered this initiative by placing recycling bins in office areas, for staff to separate dry and wet waste.
Combatting single-use plastic is high on our agenda. We have already changed our straws and guest toothbrushes to more environmentally-friendly products, but are actively pursuing plastic reduction in all areas of our operations.
Our produce is fresh, ethically-sourced, and locally-farmed. Our chefs love getting creative with seafood, as it reflects a large part of our South African culinary heritage. We also know that the seafood choices we make impact food security, our marine ecosystem, and the livelihoods of many fishing communities. That is why we have made the choice to eat green – following the SASSI (Southern Africa Sustainable Seafood Initiative) guide to inform our ‘catch of the day’ selection. These are the most sustainable choices from the healthiest and most well-managed fish populations – and absolutely delicious too!.
Community and participation
We understand that being truly involved in actively helping to protect our environment means participating in broader debates, discussions, and events. As such, our Green Grace Committee also participates in environmental awareness initiatives such as World Mountain Day, Heritage Day, Penguin Day, Clean-up SA, and Recycle Week (23-29 September this year)– where our team looks forward to cleaning up local beaches in acknowledgement of this day.
Investing in people
While we maintain world-class standards of hospitality, we do this by inspiring radical journeys of personal and professional growth in our staff. We choose to employ and hire for attitude, encouraging and supporting our staff to take steps to grow each and every day.
Thandiswa Sitofile from our Front Office can attest to this. Thandi grew up in a rural area and started working as a waste sorter for a company that contracted to Cape Grace. ‘The company requested me to come to Cape Grace to stand in for an ex-colleague. That was the first time I’d ever seen or heard of a hotel.’ She was approached by one of our in-house chefs who saw her potential and encouraged her to apply for a job in housekeeping, where she was appointed to Cape Grace as a room attendant in 2004. Thandi craved more and worked closely with our HR team to develop her skills and opportunities, taking courses and landing promotions. We are proud to say that she is now one of our two outstanding Front Office Supervisors.
Her story is just a small snapshot of a broader picture of growth and giving back. We look forward to increasing our number of projects, broadening our reach and investment into the environment as well as communities that surround us.
Blog post by Tarah Darge