Safely disposing of hazardous waste

Moonglow Guest House is in the fortunate position to be located in an area of Cape Town where kerbside recycling collection is offered by the City. Many households and businesses in these areas, Moonglow included, are therefore very familiar with what types of waste can be recycled – most types of plastic, paper, tin and glass among them.

Disposing of hazardous waste

However, many people still have little or no awareness of what special disposal methods some types of non-recyclable waste need, and all too often harmful (and even hazardous) waste gets thrown directly into the bin. The team at Moonglow, however, makes sure that harmful waste is not handled in a way that leads it to the landfill. Gillian drops off spent printer cartridges, batteries and lightbulbs at a collection point at her local Pick ‘n Pay. Although this takes a bit of an effort, they’ve simply made it part of their routine when they do the shopping.

Although the amounts of harmful waste produced by Moonglow (and most guesthouses) may be nominal, appropriate disposal is still extremely important because these types of waste are harmful to human health and the environment. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), for example, contain small amounts of mercury that can leach into the groundwater if a broken lightbulb ends up at the landfill. Old batteries leak acids and other chemicals that are either toxic or corrosive and are likely to make already dangerous landfill sites even more hazardous.

Like Gillian and the Moonglow team, we encourage you to collect used batteries, lightbulbs and printer cartridges and take them to the closest collection point. Many of these are found at supermarkets, which makes it easy since you can just drop them off during one of your shopping trips.

hazardous waste
Spent batteries, lightbulbs and printer cartridges are considered as hazardous waste can’t be disposed on in the normal waste or even be recycled.

A different way of building communities

Moonglow Guest House is a part of Transfrontier Parks Destinations, a group of businesses that shares a passion for ensuring that tourism operates in a way that creates long-term benefits for local communities. TFPD partners with community-owned lodges situated in transfrontier parks (as the name suggests); the positive results of these partnerships are not only voiced by those directly involved but have also been recognised through receipt of various responsible tourism awards both locally and internationally over the past few years.

Moonglow’s situation is slightly different from the other TFPD businesses, of course. Located near Simon’s Town, its ‘community’ owners – Gillian and Glynn O’Leary – are team members of the larger TFPD operations. That means a lot of their energy goes towards building stronger communities around the various TFPD lodges in the group. Moonglow has drafted a policy regarding how it contributes both to these broader TFPD initiatives as well what it does in its local vicinity. This contributes to its responsible tourism performance not only in the area of building stronger communities, but also in its responsible procurement and support for enterprise development. Some of the highlights of this policy are below:

  • Prioritising the purchase of goods and services from the local area and community-owned businesses / projects, such as Vezokhule sewing cooperative and Red Cedar natural rooibos products
  • Providing additional market access for goods produced by communities around the TFPD lodges by offering them for sale to its guests; an example is the Kalahari salt produced by San communities
  • Providing in-kind support to other TFPD lodges by advising on how locally produced crafts can be used as décor and design in the lodges (or adapted to do so)

Where to from here?

We recorded existing responsible practices at the Moonglow Guest House during the first site visit. This helped us establish a baseline which we then used to draft a responsible tourism action plan for the business, basically ideas of what more the business can do to operate responsibly. We will also use the baseline to compare the success of the action plan.

You can read the full results of the initial sustainability evaluation here. However, here are other pictures of the good work Moonglow Guest House is doing.

Responsible tourism at Moonglow Guest House
The dishwasher has a setting to save both water and electricity.
Responsible tourism at Moonglow Guest House
Signage asks guests to save water and tells them how to do it.
Responsible tourism at Moonglow Guest House
As much as possible, laundry is air dried.
Responsible tourism at Moonglow Guest House
Solar jars are used during load shedding,
Responsible tourism at Moonglow Guest House
A bottle of water is placed in each cistern to reduce its volume
Responsible tourism at Moonglow Guest House
Guest amenities are provided in refillable bottles