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Murera Lodge goes 'green'

REAL ESTATE
By | December 23rd 2010

BY FERDINAND MWONGELA

Set on the outer slopes of the Nyambene Ranges, about six hours drive from Nairobi is Murera Springs Eco Lodge right next to Meru National Park. I had heard that the lodge is built from recycled Tetrapak cartons and I was eager to see for myself.

Murera is the name of the area the lodge is located. It boasts of a small shopping centre a few hundred metres away from where the earth road meets the tarmack road to Meru National Park.

This place is extraordinarily quiet, especially for someone used to the dizzying noise of Nairobi. One gets afraid of talking for fear of ruining the serene calm. The welcoming staff offered us cooling glasses of fruit juice before directing us to our cottages, which are made from boards made from Tetrapak cartons. The netting and tents were quite cosy. A first look around my cottage showed that the lodge was really committed to being ecologically friendly. Solar power lights up the entire lodge. Our host, Kerstin Skog Nord, says they wanted to make everything at the lodge eco-friendly.

She saiys she hoped the lodge would make an impact, however small, on the conservation efforts of the Murera community.

Although the lodge is almost at the edge of the park, there is no fear of large mammals flattening down the lodge, but exciting sightings of bush babies and monkeys promise guests a great game experience.

Recycling lessons

The front view of Murera Springs Eco Lodge. [PHOTOS: MARTIN MUKANGU / STANDARD]

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The quietness of the evening was shattered by the persistent choir of insects and small animals in the nearby shrubs. Later during dinner, Kerstin’s passion for environmental conservation and awareness was unmistakable, exploring ways of making the lodge more eco-friendly and sensitise the Murera community on the same.

Morning came fast, but it was quite cold with the rain steadily drizzling. Had we not agreed to get up early I would have just turned over and tucked my head deeper under the covers., but the lodge staff were being taught how to store the used cartons by Tetrapak’s Communication’s and Environmental Manager Wanjiku Mugo and I wanted to listen in.

The simplicity of the operation to recycle the used Tetrapak cartons to useable boards is quite astonishing. According to Wanjiku Mugo, the process involves cutting the Tetrapak cartons into small pieces and compressing them between two hot panels.

The recycling company is however independent from Tetrapak.

Sorting trash

The process of getting these Tetrapak cartons to the recycler is much more difficult for an individual user and especially with our garbage collection system where all the garbage is mixed.

Often, people have to sift through garbage to get the cartons. At the same time, many are not aware of the availability of a recycling company so they tend to throw them away.

Wanjiku demonstrated how to drain all contents from the carton and flatten them to take up less space while at the same time avoiding the odour when the remaining contents go bad.

However, recycling is still a phenomena that is yet to catch up in Kenya, made even more difficult by the fact that very few sort their trash before putting it out.

So any willing recycler would have to go through glass, plastics, food waste and a horde of other trash to get the cartons.

A lot more needs to be done to make the collection of recyclable material more convenient for the users so that they do not feel like they are going out of their way or being inconvenienced.

Soon it was time to leave for Nairobi’s hustle and bustle, reluctantly leaving behind this paradise, a natural cathedral in the woods.

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