June 5, 2021 (IANSlife) The past year and a half has left us with a greater appreciation and yearning for the outdoors. We are all looking forward to being out again in the open, spending a few moments in the sun, taking in the fresh air or simply enjoying what Mother Nature has to offer.
At a time like this, World Environment Day (5th June) presents the perfect opportunity to appreciate nature’s abundance, and understand what we can do, as individuals, to make our lifestyles sustainable and environment friendly.
Here are some takeaways from Airbnb Hosts who firmly believe that caring for the environment is a practice that can be embedded in everything we do, be it is in terms of big design ideas or small day-to-day things.
Build to coexist with the environment
Host Jyotsna’s first Airbnb stay, Cloud 9 at Souland Estates, was developed on her father’s 60-year old property. Her idea was to build something that would allow her to co-exist and live-in harmony, whilst keeping the surroundings intact. The stay was therefore planned and built without encroaching upon the natural environment.
Jyotsna ensured that few structures at the estates retained their quaint value and remained intact. The next unit she built, the Loft, was atop an existing coffee pulping unit. To leave the 100-year-old granary which stores paddy crop, the way it was, she built a cottage atop stilts without disturbing the natural terrain. The properties most recent construction, Perch was built on top of a mud-walled manager's quarters so as not to disturb the original ambience of the area. Needless to say, most of the building materials are such that they can be recycled and reused. Based on the practices she’s implemented into her own constructions, Jyotsna says that the best way to appreciate nature is to adapt it into your design.
First, Reduce, reuse, recycle
Hosts Rekha and Thomas who run Airbnb stay Little Flower Farms, believe that recycling can bring out the best in a space. All it requires is a little thought. For instance, they have used repainted buckets as flower pots, and re-used roof tiles to create boundaries for their vegetable garden.
They have also turned old t-shirts into macrame hangers for potted plants; misshapen hula hoops to create garden mobiles; and loose pieces of metal and spray-painted leaves to make beautiful and appealing garden accessories like wreaths and dream catchers.
“More than ease, approach your garden as an up-cycle project with a spirit of adventure,” say Rekha and Thomas.
Hosts Sannat and Shashi who run Sukoonbagh, a quaint homestay amidst an idyllic setup in Bir, Himachal Pradesh, resonate the same thoughts and believe that one can massively reduce costs by re-using old furniture rather than making something from scratch. Another plus point to doing this is the eclectic feel it provides to your house.
Grow a green thumb
Rekha and Thomas have retained their untamed backyards, taking inspiration from the surrounding forests and riverside creeks. Throughout their abode, one can find lovely, curling money plants with varieties of dracaenas and Syngoniums as well as foliage plants which are delightfully pleasing to the eye. They prefer natural surroundings to manicured layouts and even allow the interior plants to grow wild. Different varieties of pots of varying sizes, house plants that grow to similar heights, without seeming forced. Jyotsna also believes in planting fruit trees and foliage to attract more birds and wildlife thus, ensuring a cool ambience and peaceful co-existence.
Don’t throw away the future
We all know that as a practice, plastic waste should be kept to a minimum. Jyotsna ensures bulk purchases, cloth bags, and baskets are used wherever possible to limit plastic waste. Plastic water bottles are also discouraged at Souland Estate. Instead boiled, cooled and filtered water in glass bottles or refillable canisters is provided. Instead of disposable items, Jyostna prefers to use fresh banana leaves. All her cottages are equipped with porcelain and steel utensils.
Sannat believes that banning single use plastic is the need of the hour. He also strongly advocates the practice of segregating waste and puts out separate bins for wet and dry waste as well as bottles (both plastic and glass).
Create awareness and spread the word
Rekha and Thomas believe in encouraging and including their guests consciously in their green practices. It helps that guests are also increasingly aware of their carbon footprint. Guests are asked to leave no non-biodegradable waste behind. All the food served is usually homegrown. Additionally, by including visits to fruit orchards and gardens, they bring about an understanding of what it takes to have organic produce, grown in the most conscious ways. To minimise logistical and packaging waste, they sell home-grown produce and preserves to guests. They are asked to segregate waste during their stay which is duly disposed of. Biodegradable waste is composted and used as fertilizer for the homegrown vegetable patch.
Both hosts consciously wish to leave their guests with wonderful memories of living in natural environments. They believe time away in a conserved, restored and inspiring landscape, hopefully, is a memory guests will carry back with them. It is their desire to give guests a taste of living on a pristine landscape and to help them see their natural world in a different light. They hope these memories and ideas turn into actions and gestures which over time turn into a larger effort towards conservation.
World Environment Day is a day of reckoning – a day to consider when one can consider how to make the world a better place to live in and how their small actions can make a difference.
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