In my opinion sustainable tourism/practices, if done correctly and efficiently, will both benefit the environment and a company or individual. Although today, we are still trying to accomplish the previous with as much at hand as possible. Ideally, sustainability will come hand in hand with positive environmental outcomes and social and economic benefits.
However, some practices are more beneficial (in both instances) than others. Take recycling paper for example: the margin in producing new paper vs. recycling is much lower so incentives are likely lower. Aluminum cans on the other hand are much more cost effective to recycle, bringing higher benefits to both the producer (by reusing material) and for the environment (aluminum has a longer decomposition time).
Out of all the practices I have seen, Bio Gas has really caught hold of my attention because it has great benefits for both sides. I had heard of the idea, but never actually saw and understood how a bio gas plant worked until I came to Marari Pearl in Kerala, India. Basically, manure or human waste (up to 30kg per day) is mixed with water and transferred into an underground “fixed dome” (in this case) where it ferments using anaerobic digestion. Methane gas is released and collected by a hose that leads to, in most cases a kitchen. The gas is then used for cooking etc.
The byproduct after anaerobic digestion is a substance rich in nitrogen and phosphorus. This substance is a great fertilizer and is used to power the resort’s edible gardens.
Now we have gone full circle. Starting with “farm to table”, where the guest eats from the edible gardens which have been cooked by the very same methane gas and ending with the byproduct which fertilizes the fruits and vegetables. This is where we start to realize the full impact that a bio-gas plant can have. It is the key ingredient in being self sufficient and sustainable while having huge benefits for the company and the land.
For now, Marari Pearl is still in its pre-opening stages and currently uses the methane as part of the fuel for the staff kitchen. However, more use is expected in the months to come!