Today is World Water Day and as much as we like to think that this precious natural resource is unlimited, access to clean water remains a daily hardship for countless rural communities around the world and, as global warming continues to live up to its warning signs, many urban centres around the world have now, too, experienced just how scarce and precious a commodity water truly is. So, while the world commemorates this all too important day, it is a global reminder to all of us that in fact, every day should be World Water Day.
The breathtakingly beautiful city of Cape Town, in South Africa, made headlines around the world this year as the Western Cape province continues to face one of the worst droughts in its history. Further northeast, the province of KwaZulu-Natal also experienced an arduous four-year drought that recently came to a glorious end – click here to read about the long-awaited rains that recently brought indescribable joy to the people, land and wildlife of &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve.
One thing about hardships is that they inspire innovation, promote togetherness and highlight what truly matters: survival, community care and spirit, and a determination to succeed. You know what they say, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and Cape Town has proudly displayed its true colours and proved that hard times really do bring out the best in people. Thanks to the creative and resourceful ways that Cape Town’s locals, consumers, businesses and guests alike are saving water, it is very much business as usual in Cape Town and our award-winning Mother City continues to delight travellers from across the globe.
There’s no denying that water is our earth’s most precious resource and although more than 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, 96.5% percent of this vast water supply is contained within our oceans as salt water. The remaining water is found in freshwater lakes, glaciers and ice caps. Only a mere 1% of the earth’s water is reachable and suitable for human consumption, making it a very limited resource.
And no matter our race, religion, colour, gender or nationality, we all need water to survive and given the sobering effects of climate change and Mother Nature’s wildly unpredictable weather patterns, water conservation is more important now than ever. Simple, everyday changes can indeed have a significant and lasting impact and we can all benefit from becoming more water wise. Remember, every drop counts, no matter where you live (or travel).
So what can we learn from people around the world that have been faced with water scarcity? Well in Cape Town, a few small steps made an enormous difference to the large-scale water-saving efforts. Where possible, water from agricultural areas was reallocated to urban areas; water inflow and pressure was reduced; taps have been shut off in airports and shopping centres and waterless hand sanitiser dispensers installed; and businesses and locals alike are using rainwater tanks, boreholes, greywater systems, water-saving showerheads, as well as buckets in the shower to collect water before it heats up to temperature.
Grey water is being used to wash cars and water gardens, less water-intensive cleaning methods are being adhered to and every local business is doing its own part to encourage consumers to conserve water in unique, inventive ways, many of which we can all adopt in our own households too.
Even the world-class restaurants and cafés are making a meaningful difference by adopting meat-free Mondays, designing water-savvy menus, using water conscious cooking methods (such as boiling instead of steaming, replacing beef with game, venison and veggie/vegan options, and reducing the amount of pasta dishes) and encouraging people to bring reusable travel mugs for their takeaway coffees. There is even a popular campaign challenging the city’s most renowned chefs to design their own irresistible and totally waterless meals – and you can watch them preparing these delicious dishes online.
Luxury hotels and boutique properties have also incorporated small, unobtrusive measures that continue to save water, but that doesn’t impact on or detract from the luxury experience. From installing water-saving showerheads and removing bathtub plugs, to encouraging guests to reuse towels and linen during a short stay and minimise air-con usage on days when it’s not necessary … every bit really does help.
At &Beyond, while we acknowledge that our business is built on luxury travel, we remain committed to the use of renewable resources; this extends not only to the use of energy but also to water. We aim to reduce the use of plastic across our operations through our water bottling plant initiative: we bottle our own purified water in recyclable glass bottles at each lodge, and at some central offices, to further reduce the impact and usage of plastic.
The first glass water bottling plant was implemented at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in 2016 and, since then, we have successfully implemented and duplicated this project across nearly 50% of our lodges. Our aim is for 100% of our lodges to have their own glass bottling plants and to reduce the number of plastic bottles used in the group by 90% by 2020.
Click here to browse our &Beyond Impact Review and read more about our 2020 goals.
So, on World Water Day, and indeed every day, think when you turn on that tap and try and save water wherever you can. Remember the old adage, “if you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.” It’s up to all of us to work together for a sustainable solution for the future of our planet … and while we’re at it, let’s all do a little rain dance for everyone around the world that is faced with water scarcity. Bring on the rain!
Click here to read all about how we are making a difference to the planet, today and every day.