The dollars and sense of going green

  • Community
  • Saturday, 01 Jan 2011

RUNNING an eco-friendly resort makes “perfect business sense”, an environmentalist and entrepreneur says.

By 2030, businesses that are not green will not be able to survive, The Frangipani Langkawi Resort and Spa owner Anthony Wong said.

“In the next 20 years, our natural resources will be gone and you will be out of business if you don’t practise sustainability,” he said.

“You can make money if you are eco-friendly because tourists these days are willing to pay more to help conserve Mother Nature,” he said.

Wong, who is also the managing director of Asian Overland Services (AOS), a tourism and hospitality group of companies specialising in eco-tourism activities, said it would cost more in the initial stages to run a green hotel but it would be cheaper in the long run.

“Your initial investment may be about 20% more and you’ll need more staff but at the end of the day, the profits justify the effort and you are doing your part to help save the environment,” he explained.

“Langkawi has about 90,000 inhabitants and 2.5 million visitors yearly – the main benefactors are the locals because 90% of the population depends on the tourism industry to survive,” he added.

Recycling and energy-saving are practised at Wong’s resort at Pantai Tengah.

He relies on the wetland system to treat sewage and waste water.

The water treatment system uses plants to turn stinky, dirty sewage into clean water,” he said.

“The first step is to identify the main pollutants in the water which we channel into a pond near the resort.

“Next step is to find the most suitable plants that can soak up the pollutants.

“I took three years to find the perfect combination of plants that could effectively treat the water,” he said.

Wong uses the water mimosa, thalia genicula, water hyacinth, water lily, water vetiver and water spinach at his pond.

Laboratory tests have shown that the treated water from the pond is of grade A quality.

“You can actually drink the water once it goes through the ultraviolet light and water filtering process although we only use the treated water for cleaning and watering the plants.

“At least 45% of the water used at the resort is recycled,” the Kuala Lumpur native said.

He is especially proud of his Zero Waste Eco Farm where ducks and chickens roam and organic vegetables grow.

“Those interested in learning more about how we do things here are welcome,” he said.

Other eco-friendly practices at the resort are worm composting, waste separation, solar heating and using natural sunlight and ventilation for the buildings.

Wong stresses the importance of grease traps.

“We re-use the cooking oil to make soaps and bio-diesel.

“There are old bathtubs everywhere and these are planted with organically grown vegetables and ulam,” he said.

“The frangipani flowers from our trees are dried and used to make tea and keropok (chips).”

Wong said future guests would be intrigued by a toilet made from used bottles next year.

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