Thai boutique hotel with new environmental solutions

Creating the Biochar at 137 Pillars House

Creating the Biochar at 137 Pillars House

A boutique hotel in Thailand has been working on some unusual environmental solutions to deal with food waste and mosquitos.

137 Pillars House Chiang Mai is working with WarmHeart Environment to operate two incinerators and set up a composting area for the hotel. The initiative means the hotel can responsibly manage its organic waste by burning it at high temperature to produce “Biochar” (charcoal) as well as using kitchen vegetable, fruit and salad waste as part of their composting.

WarmHeart Environment is a grassroots organisation working for sustainable farming and the substantial reduction in smoke and harmful particles in the air which happens as a result of crop clearing by burning. Around the world field burning creates 330,000 tons of black carbon annually – the 2nd biggest contributor to global warming – and huge quantities of methane and NOx, greenhouse gases 25 and 298 times respectively more warming than CO2. It is estimated that in Thailand it costs the tourist industry two billion baht each month during the burning season.

WarmHeart develops new, inexpensive biochar technology and biochar fertilisers for poor farmers. Biochar is added to the soil and increases the fertility and PH of the soil, enabling increased agricultural productivity and protection against some foliar and soil-borne diseases. It reduces pressure on forests and can endure in the soil for thousands of years.

WarmHeart believe that making biochar removes three tons CO2 from the atmosphere for every ton of biochar produced; when the biochar is added to fields as a soil amendment, that carbon is permanently sequestered.

Working on environmental solutions

Working on environmental solutions

In addition, the hotel has found a new and more environmentally friendly way to deal with mosquitos. 137 Pillars House is working with Mosquito Lady Consulting to use environmentally responsible measures and products to control and eradicate mosquitos which are found in tropical climates and throughout the region.

Staff at the property undertook training and learned about the breeding habits of mosquitos and why fogging with insecticides doesn't work. Fogging only kills adult mosquitoes but does nothing to eradicate the breeding grounds. It’s also unhealthy for people and mosquitos are becoming resistant to the chemicals.

A core team with representatives from all departments worked with Trudy ‘the Mosquito Lady’ and acted as mosquito detectives covering every square inch of the property.  They removed all visible sources where water can accumulate including tackling areas within resort palms and trees by filling any holes with sand. They added fish to all ponds and wells, covered some areas with netting, and ensured the pump and pool rooms were as dry as possible.

Each area now completes a daily report and the mosquito management team do an in depth weekly analysis with needed actions.

Mosquito Lady says: “Our mission is to eliminate the toxic environmental effects of pesticides used in failed attempts to manage mosquito populations; by designing more effective and environmentally responsible control measures.

The new system aims for:

  • Substantial cost savings by eliminating the need for chemical pesticide fogging and spraying
  • Superior long term mosquito control
  • Improved guest experience by reducing pesticide exposure and decreasing the number of mosquito bites
  • Improved guest experience by eliminating the noise and white cloud associated with fogging
  • Improved health of the fish populations, the reef and marine environment surrounding the resort. (Many of the neurotoxin pesticides commonly used also kill fish)
  • Reduced long term exposure of resort staff to toxic pesticides
  • Increased health of the local ecosystem including natural predators of mosquitoes

General Manager Anne Arrowsmith is inviting other Chiang Mai Hotels to join the programme for wider benefits throughout the local community for both guests, visitors and residents of Chiang Mai.

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