SIEM REAP (Khmer Times) – The year 2014 was the Earth’s hottest on record since 1880. With Cambodia feeling the effects of increasingly erratic weather, some city hotels are joining Shinta Mani Club Hotel to enact eco-friendly practices popular among Western tourists.
New activities include reducing garbage output by 50% by turning it into compost, replacing plastic straws with bamboo ones, and ceasing to use plastic bags for deliveries.
Although unclear what impact this will have on the climate, Cambodia is considered to be among the most vulnerable countries to climate change, according to credit ratings agency S&P. They measured 116 countries in May 2014 as part of a vulnerability index. The Kingdom came in dead last at 116.
This year, Siem Reap hotels Maison557 and Amansara announced that they are composting 100% of their compostable waste. Shinta Mani responded by raising its compost percentage to 60% and began encouraging other businesses to follow.
Georges Rhumerie, Mad Monkey Hostel, Chanrey Tree Restaurant, Khmer Cuisine, and Sokha Boutique Resort, Restaurant and Spa have all committed to making the switch from plastic to bamboo straws, and from plastic to linen bags for all deliveries.
Heritage Suites Hotel and Shinta Mani tout their use of reusable linen bags made by Husk Cambodia – a not-for-profit NGO that creates jobs in rural Treak and Kompheim villages.
But some guests are not convinced that reusable bamboo straws are hygienic. Shinta Mani has fielded numerous inquiries about the straws, so much so that they decided to publish their answer online.
“Our bamboo straws are being washed in our dish washing machine, and follow the same hygiene standards and procedures as our plates, cutlery and glassware,” the hotel wrote on its Facebook page,
They cite other high-end hotels — Dusit Maldives, Amansara and SongSaa Resort — as satisfied users.
Shinta Mani also encourages the use of biodegradable, oven-safe food delivery boxes. They are produced by Paper Green Leaf from natural plant fibers. To further spread the word, Shinta Mani will host a get-together Wednesday afternoon for businesses and suppliers interested in reducing waste in Siem Reap.
Vendors selling reusable products will be present to talk to interested local businesses. Others will demonstrate processes for converting food waste. French expatriate Patrick Vincent will also show interested parties his composting process.
Richard Vicheth, Shinta Mani’s front house manager, says working with eco-friendly initiatives has helped him understand why plastic is a detriment to his country. He hopes the information he and his coworkers share with their friends and family will one day help clean up Cambodia for his children.
“My village [Puok] is full of plastic,” he said. “Every time I go home, I talk about this problem with my parents. My father is an English teacher, and he has added some lessons about this plastic problem to his class. Change starts with one person.”
Christian de Boer, Shinta Mani’s general manager, says he is happy about Khmer businesses getting involved. “We need to create awareness and get everyone involved,” said Mr. de Boer, a native of Holland. “It’s their country.”
If Cambodia is badly affected by climate change, Mr. de Boer says he can go home. For Cambodians, however, this is home.
As a newcomer to Siem Reap, the Little Red Fox Espresso Café is also eager to take part. The manager has pledged to stop using Styrofoam and plastic. They are working on supplying reusable cup carriers for takeaway drink orders.
“We’re happy to say that one of our goals within the first [eight] months of us opening was to lead by example and show the team our responsibility in sustaining a clean environment and minimizing waste,” the café published in their online pledge. “Their aim is to be green by the end of 2015! A great proud movement to be a part of!”