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Lova Lava Land Environmental Statement

We are ALWAYS trying to be greener and figure out how to add amenities in a cost effective and eco-friendly way. We recently filled out this eco-questionaire - and hope to add many more green alternatives to our operations and resort in the future!

1. Do you have an environmental and/or social sustainability policy?
Yes, See our philosophy and green accommodation pages.

2. Do you have an Environmental Management System?
Yes, See our philosophy and green accommodation pages.

Energy

3. Do you use any renewable energy?
If yes, what approximate percentage and please describe.

Yes, since we are a 100% off-grid property, all our energy sources are and always will be, renewable. Our resort is now run 100% by solar power (with our solar PV system mounted on top of and inside a recycled VW bus, named Rufus the Rainbow Bus). We hope to also add wind power in the near future.

4. Please describe any energy saving devices in use, energy saving programs you have, and how guests/visitors can participate.

Through on-site tutorials, we encourage guests to take an active role in their energy use and come to a new realization about personal energy use and conservation. We have a “Conservation Alert System” that is activated if our power system is low (which can happen in the unusual situation of 3-4 cloudy days in a row or if guests are over-consuming power). When we go into “Conservation Alert” we ask all guests to avoid unnecessary use of power until the sun has a chance to recharge the system. In these situations, we also try to diagnose why the system is low on power and educate guests about why it occurred and what ‘more rustic’ back-up systems we have in place to still meet basic needs (which can be real fun).

Some of the specific systems we have in place:
1. An independent solar panel for each rental that provides night lighting. Since each rentals’ lights run independently, guests can directly realize the implications for leaving lights on (i.e. they won’t have any) AND they can see how easy it is to provide quite a bit of light off just a small panel.

2. Rainwater catchment system. All our water comes from a water catchment tank that catches and filters rainwater.

3. Partial gravity fed sink & shower. By designing our water catchment tank on a hill where the plumbing runs down to the shower and sink, we are able to minimize the need for and use of, our water pump (which takes power).

4. Our sink and shower grey water is reused for organic garden irrigation (bananas and pineapples). Guests are able to literally enjoy the ‘fruits’ produced from their shower water (which is a further incentive and realization of the importance of only using biodegradable soaps and cleaning products).

5. Guests are provided a wind-up flashlight for walking around the property at night. This truly makes one ‘work’ for any power they use!

6. Toilet flushing system. Since flushing the toilet uses water & sometimes power for the water pump, we have an “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down” flushing rule.

7. In general, the main goal of our property is to demonstrate how one can have all the comforts of home and live daily life, without using tons of energy-dependent devices.

Gardens - Organic Food - Recycling - Chemicals

5. If you have gardens, please describe any organic or chemical farming practices.

We recycle grey water to irrigate our 100% organic gardening efforts. Additionally, we have a kitchen compost system in place that guests are educated on and asked to actively participate in. This creates wonderful, free, & organic soil for our gardening (and keeps the waste out of landfills – not to mention saves gas since we have to transport trash 15 miles in order to dump it).

6. Do you have a purchasing policy - local/organic/good practice/fair trade or any other? If yes, please describe.

Yes, we actively educate guests about eco-friendly & ethical shopping practices (and strive to do the same for our purchasing). In general, if we can’t build something naturally, we try to barter or refurbish used items from neighbors that would otherwise go to a landfill. We are also strong advocates of ethical business practices (and try to point our guests in the right direction also). Unfortunately, we have run across a few unethical companies pretending to be “eco-friendly” or sell “eco-products.” We actively report & submit online reviews about these companies in order to help other people not make the same mistake – if everyone took the time to do this, a lot of bad companies would be put out of business instead of getting away with it consistently. In our Lova Lava Land Guidebook, we list the locations and times of all the local farmer’s markets and swap meets, to encourage guests to support and experience this type of shopping.

7. Please describe any composting or recycling programmes, and how, if possible, guests/visitors are encouraged to participate.

As already noted, we have an in-depth Lova Lava Land Guidebook in each rental that describes all our systems and explains how guests can learn more and actively participate. In addition, we have posted exact instructions in the communal kitchen of how to participate in our kitchen compost and recycling system (cans, bottles, plastic). We provide Tupperware containers, plates, silverware, & cups so that guests can use these instead of buying disposable products. Guests are asked to participate in these programs and to think actively about each piece of trash they contribute to the “landfill trash can” – “Would there have been any way to avoid creating this piece of trash that cannot be composted or recycled?”

8. Approximately, what percentage of cleaning products used are chemical, and what percentage bio degradable; please describe.

Our ongoing cleaning uses 100% biodegradable products. We did make the decision to use limited chemical products during the building of the resort for sustainability reasons (for example, having to protect outside wood with a chemical so that it wouldn’t rot away or get termites and have to be replaced in the very near future). When we do use chemicals in building, we first exhaust biodegradable options and are very glad to see more and more eco-friendly options appearing in stores lately!

Water

9. Please describe your water supply, and any water conservation programmes, and how, if possible, guests/visitors are encouraged to participate.

As also mentioned in the energy section (since they are directly related):
1. Being 100% off-grid, we use a rainwater catchment system. All our water comes from a water catchment tank that catches and filters rainwater. During times of low rain, we are forced to order & ship in water – so it’s very important that guests practice water conservation in order to avoid this. We try to update guests as to the latest rainfall statistics so they can volunteer to lower their water consumption if our tank is low.

2. The plumbing system is designed with a partial-gravity fed sink & shower. By designing our water catchment tank on a hill where the plumbing runs down to the shower and sink, the pressure is mostly generated by gravity (and is good!).

3. Our sink and shower grey water is reused for organic garden irrigation (bananas and pineapples). Guests are able to literally enjoy the ‘fruits’ produced from their shower water (which is a further incentive and realization of the importance of only using biodegradable soaps and cleaning products).

4. Toilet flushing system. Since flushing the toilet uses water & sometimes power for the water pump, we have an “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down” flushing rule.

5. We ask guests to only run the shower when they are actually under it (turn it on/off as they are cleaning) and the same for the kitchen sink/washing dishes.

10. Please describe your water purification and waste water treatment systems.

Unlike a lot of water catchment tanks in the area, we have installed an extensive water filtration and UV system, to make our water safe for not only showering and cleaning, but also drinking! The filtration system runs off our solar power. Specifically, there is a: a) carbon filter, b) sediment filter, and c) UV filter run on 12V.

Flora & Fauna Conservation / Preservation

11. Describe any flora or fauna conservation/projects you are involved in and how you encourage your guests to participate?

There is an island-wide problem with an invasive species called “Fountain Grass.” This grass spreads extremely rapidly and grows easier in the lava than other native species (taking away the opportunity for native species to thrive). We’ve ‘waged war’ on this grass throughout our 3 acres, and across neighbour properties. We do not use chemicals to kill it, but pull it up by the root. Often we encourage guests to help out and provide a free upgrade or free nights if they put in so many hours helping to pull this grass.

Outstanding Achievements

12. Please describe what you feel is your single most important eco achievement?

We feel our greatest achievement is the fact that we came from a big city life and previously has little or no knowledge of building (or even living) eco-friendly. In the span of a year, we purchased a 100% off-grid piece of lava and were able to build this property 100% off-grid, 100% solar powered by simply having the attitude that we could learn and do anything via a little web research, a little community help, and a little creativity. If we can do it, anyone can! That realization makes it even more important to try to educate others as to how easy and how comfortable an eco-life can be.

Monitoring / Feedback / Training

13. Please describe any staff and customer eco training/education programs.

Guest eco-education: contained on our website, in the extensive Lova Lava Land Eco-Resort Guidebook, and through notices we have posted around the property in proximity to the issue/system it relates to.
Staff eco-education: all staff is specifically trained in each of our systems and is required to use biodegradable products that we supply and follow the rules of our eco-systems (just as guests are).

14. Please describe any materials you have to educate your guests (brochures, posters, pamphlets, etc.)?

Lova Lava Land Eco-Resort Guidebook explains each of our “Eco-Honor Systems” and how guests can participate (with fun pictures and amusing wording). We have also posted posters around the property with further information (such as how to use our off-grid kitchen, how to conserve electricity, and how to conserve water used in the toilet). We also encourage guests to read over the information on our website, even while they are staying here (using our free wireless Internet).

15. Please describe how you monitor, maintain, and/or minimize your environmental impact?

In general, we try to build and maintain our property with the highest priority being environmental impact. Other specifics are already noted in previous questions.

16. Do you get customer feedback?
If yes, please describe how you collect the feedback, and what you do with it.

Yes, we collect guest comments on our “Coconut Guestbooks,” located in each rental and made with coconuts – not paper! Often we also get personal ‘thank you’ emails from guests after they leave and have included many of these on the “Testimonials” page on our website. In an effort to get these types of independent reviews on other websites, we recently emailed guests to volunteer to provide feedback on other, outside websites.

Local and International Community

17. What percentage of your staff are locals?

Usually 100%

18. Please describe what you do to minimize your negative impacts on the local community, and any cultural awareness, community activities or local sponsorships programmes, and any other ways you try to ensure the local community benefit from your business.

Member of the Ocean View Community Center & Kau Preservation. We often host community events and potlucks to share and educate neighbors about how to build functioning off-grid systems. Our website is also an informational source for the community – we often get emails, questions, & praise from community members about how our website has encouraged and taught them how to build eco-friendly. Depending on availability, we provide tours to locals that have found our website and wanted to see more close-up how to do things. We may turn this into a more formal program in the future since there seems to be a lot of interest in it.

19. If you have a green / eco certification label, please give details and explain:
• your reasons for joining the scheme
• The benefits you feel you receive
• Any other positive or negative points


If you do not have a green certification / label, please explain
• Your reasons for NOT joining any schemes,
• Any benefits you feel you are missing,
• Anything else.

Since we offer quality but budget accommodation, we do not have the profit margins to pay for these sorts of programs (unless they directly bring me revenue to compensate). I can only hope that potential guests look at what I am doing to realize that I am a green accommodation (which I extensively explain and prove via my own website). Since I am seeing many undeserving, larger corporations getting these certifications, I also do not want to be put in a group with such places. Additionally, there are tons of these certifications popping up – all with different ways of judging or qualifying – some of them obviously just out to make money without providing a real service to the public. This makes me very sceptical of them in general. In the current environment, I do not feel that I am missing out on anything by not joining these (but may feel differently if a good one starts that is ethical, doesn’t charge fees, and creates a beneficial community for eco-companies to interact within & help each other). This topic does interest me though so I’m interested to see how the industry works it out.

Personally, I’ve started a dialogue with guests and online to see how others feel about it. I just hope it doesn’t turn out like most similar certifications – rewarding the bigger and wealthier companies and leaving out the little guys that would need it the most (like the organic farming industry).

20. Anything else you feel is relevant or important.

Please provide as much documentary evidence as possible.
Please provide 2 references, preferably one from the local or national government tourist authority or a registered NGO (Non-profit Non Governmental Organization) locally, and the other from your certification scheme if you are in one.

Further descriptions of our eco-practices and philosophies are presented on our website. Our website picture album not only shows the finished product, but takes you through a pictorial process of how we have built each structure and system. We also have a page with guest testimonials, reviews, and other press we have received – one of them being a NGO (www.yert.com – they included us in one of their videos). We are also listed as an eco-friendly accommodation in the Lonely Planet Big Island (the writer wrote a lot of the book at our Eco-Resort on our solar power!).

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