Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) is a non-profit organisation that promotes responsible tourism in southern Africa and beyond. The aim of FTT is to make tourism more sustainable by ensuring that the people who contribute their land, resources, labour and knowledge to tourism are the ones who reap the benefits. This is done by growing awareness about responsible tourism to travellers; assisting tourism businesses to operate more sustainably; and by facilitating a Fair Trade Tourism certification programme across southern Africa.
Tourism businesses that adhere to the FTT standard use the FTT label as a way of signifying their commitment to fair and responsible tourism. This includes fair wages and working conditions, fair purchasing and operations, equitable distribution of benefits and respect for human rights, culture and the environment. All staff receive sustainability induction training where they learn about good environmental practices, which apply not only to reducing their environmental impact in the workplace, but can also be applied in their homes and communities. Staff are encouraged to come up with ideas on improving the business as well as projects in the community. Employment opportunities are given to the local community as a first priority and subsequent training not only includes job-related skills training but also includes personal development such as; personal budgeting / savings, relationships and conflict resolution, and wellness training including HIV/AIDS through Life Line, conducted in Zulu. Three Trees is actively involved in the local community. The Lodge fundraises through the Three Tree Social Community Fund, R20 per guest per night is donated to this fund to benefit local schools and provide mentorship to entrepreneurs in the village.
A feeding programme has been set up at the pre-school, providing children with vitamin enriched porridge on a daily basis. The outside play area at the school is also maintained by Three Trees. The recent addition of a jungle gym, which was donated by previous guests, greatly increased attendance to the school. A computer room, with internet access has been installed at the high school. Present projects include the installation of water & a secure fencing area around the school to develop a permaculture garden and Environmental Learning Centre for the children and their community.
In order to reduce our overall environmental footprint, Three Trees have comprehensive procedures and systems in place to reduce energy, water usage and to manage waste responsibly. We use energy-saving light bulbs throughout the lodge, insulate our walls and ceilings and purchase appliances and equipment with energy saving in mind. A solar cooker & Wonder Bag are used in the kitchen to further reduce consumption. A monthly electricity monitoring chart is posted in the kitchen, which helps everyone to keep a tab on energy usage trends. All our geysers are fitted with solar tubes to make use of heat provided by the sun. A very thorough recycling programme ensures that not only paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and tins are recycled, but also printer cartridges, old stationery, soap and candle wax are re-used in various forms and then recycled. Tea bags are sun-dried, laced with paraffin & used as firelighters. Cereal & biscuit boxes, toilet rolls and magazines are taken to the community preschool for use in their art classes. All garden and kitchen waste is composted or fed to earthworms, chickens & pigs. Monthly roster in place to dose all septic tanks with bio salts. Water in the jugs in rooms & tables are fresh from our aquifer, which is 120m (430ft) deep. We ask our guests not leave the taps running while they are brushing their teeth or shaving and not to run the water to wait for it to heat. Towels & sheets are put under the basin if guests want them washed during their stay. All our showers are fitted with low flow heads.
We have rain water collection tanks at the garage. This water is used for washing the guests vehicles before departure. All the plants in our garden are indigenous & therefore use minimal water. All cleaning chemicals are biodegradable & diluted on site. Fresh produce is mostly obtained from the local farmers co operative in Bergville. Great care and research has gone into sourcing produce from small business owners located in the area. We have our own vegetable & herb garden which is used daily in preparation for guest meals. Compost & vermi-compost is made on site & used to nourish the garden. Only organic pesticides (garlic & canola oil) are used in the garden. We have also tried to use foods in the kitchen with reduced preservatives, additives & colourants, purchasing only South African made products, where possible. Replacement linen & furnishings are bought locally in South Africa from South African designers.