The camp sorts its output by organic and non-organic waste, paper, plastic, glass, and composting items. Even in such a remote location, where we do not have the resources available to recycle everything, we try as much as possible to recycle all that we can. We are also hoping to increase recycling capabilities in our area, not only to serve the camp, but the surrounding community as well.
Our camp uses a biofiltration system to allow for the treatment and reuse of wastewater from the bath, including showers and toilets. The system is comprised of a bioreactor and 5 layers set for water filtration, including a layer of California worms. As with our composting toilets, bioreactors use microorganisms to degrade pollutants biologically, and thus release water that is safe to be placed back in the soil.
The lodge houses a variety of features constructed from bamboo, fully exhibiting its extensive range of uses and capabilities. Bamboo is also sustainably grown onsite for construction purposes, and used in some rooms for structural strength. Not only is it found in beautiful outdoor retreat areas, but in walls, furniture, stunning roofs, and for sturdy structural support.
Here, several of our 14 heat pumps (one per heating / cooling zone) are housed. Connected in a loop by a circuit with water and glycol, each heat pump takes or adds heat according to its needs. Several rooms are air-conditioned throughout the year, while others are according to the season or need. The system uses heat or cold where it is surplus to send it where it is needed. “Moving” the heat is 3.5 times more economical than producing it.
As well, the access door in the floor overlooks the grease trap of the restaurant, which prevents grease from going into municipal sewers. A system checks the level of grease and then, when filled, it is pumped by a truck via a connection outside the building. In 6 years of operation, it is not even one-tenth full.
All of our water is locally-sourced from the Moho River. It is UV triple-filtered for use in our cabanas, main lodge, and garden.
Our cabanas mimic the thatch homes still built in the Toledo district of Belize. The thatch roofing helps regulate inside temperature, and provides extremely excellent insulating properties. This makes it a perfect feature for keeping rooms cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The thatch is made from a local plant called bayleaf which, if harvested at the correct time, can last up to 30 or 40 years.
Residual materials are sorted at each work station. Here, the organic ones will be composted.
Small scale solar setup outside of a local business park.
We grow food in our organic gardens, using organic fertilizers and homemade seaweed concentrate. We focus on cooking local traditional dishes, and continuously plant in order to stimulate the bird and butterfly population.
Our camp uses a composting toilet system, which requires very little water and is excellent for soil regeneration. Such a system utilizes decomposition and evaporation to process waste. What is not evaporated, we mix with wood chips. This remains an active process in which aerobic bacteria transform the waste into fertilizing soil.
Due to the important contribution of the bacteria, the final product is non-harmful and safe to use. This is why we spend a great deal of effort to ensure a hospitable and warm environment for the process, especially through our very cold weather.
This is one of the nice reusable bags we had received at a local store, after legislation regulating plastic use was enacted in Colombia in 2016. Due to the large amount of plastic waste ending up in surrounding water bodies, Colombia has banned all plastic bags smaller than 30×30 cm, and placed a small charge on others that can still be purchased in stores (with a plan set to increase the tax each year until 2020).
By the middle of 2018, this initiative had served to decrease plastic bag consumption by 35%, and raised around $4 million in taxes [see articles below]. Success from these efforts is spurring other similar initiatives and will hopefully continue to drive progress toward mitigating damage from plastic moving on.
More on Colombia’s Plastic Initiatives:
We actively unite sustainable ventures with artful creation around many areas of our reserve. These are some of our bottle walls, which not only serve to repurpose glass bottles, but offer a beautiful array of colors to the rooms when reflecting the incoming natural light.
The lodge exhibits a variety of clever construction and building methods. In addition to the guest suites, much of the site areas and buildings are creatively housed within reused shipping containers- though you would never be able to tell from the beautifully designed interiors.
Again, the use of blue jean pants as insulation material is also characteristic of the unique construction. This lodge has created a truly enchanting, admirable, and serene space for all who come to visit.
These solar canopies for parking lots not only help to provide electricity, but offer shade, rooftop protection, an efficient use of the substantial area allocated for parking space, and the option to introduce and power electric vehicle charging stations directly where they are needed.
On one of our roofs, we maintain this rooftop garden. Not only does it allow for a more efficient use of space, but it also serves to help cool the roof in the summer, as rooftop gardens can provide better insulation than standard tar or gravel use, and help to remove heat from the air.