Monday, 30 March 2020

UPCYCLING PLASTIC BOTTLES- PET

We have already made a couple of posts on this subject but here we are just going to add a couple more ways that we have found to re-use PET plastic bottles. It's short and sweet.

Obviously it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that ANY container, made out of ANY material can be useful as a bucket or a raised plant pot, no explanation needed, look how successful the plant nurseries are on the roadsides.



Other ways one can use PET bottles? It depends on the size. In many parts of the world the 1 litre PET bottles are being stuffed with waste/and or Sand so that they can be used as building blocks.

At the Sands we don't have waste PET but after collecting from other hotels and restaurants we have enough 5, 10 and 20 litre bottles that we can use them in other ways. Look how much our Chickens love their laying 'boxes' made out of PET bottles.



We also use these as feeders to try to minimise the waste of Layers Mash (supplements to egg laying chickens) when the chickens scratch the layers mash from more open feeders like trays.

When these bottles are cut often the top of the bottle is not used, it just becomes waste.. or a hanging grow pot for mint (see top photo)                  





Or even raised stands to protect fruit against burrowing ground dwelling pests. (Sweet Melons)

Friday, 20 March 2020

THE MARINE EDUCATION CENTRE- Environmental Education and Awareness


In late 2018 The Sands at Nomad finished renovations on an old boat house turning it into a conservation education and awareness location called the Marine Education Centre (MEC).

Located next to the Sand's recycling centre, a short five minute walk from the Hotel reception through the Corral Rag forest. The centre is open to visitors daily from 3 to 5pm


The MEC has now become the home and operating location for three different conservation, education and research organisations all focusing on bringing awareness to visitors on the plight of the oceans the planet the wildlife within.. and how this effects us and our future generations.(Towards sustainability)



The Conservation Education Society  was created as a way to educate and make aware both local and international students on issues such as marine wildlife, ecosystems and conservation. Throughout 2019, 554 students and 71 teachers visited the MEC on ‘ecotours’ which allowed them to take part in specifically designed education programs, from which, it is hoped they taken away knowledge which may help both their own and their (our) planets future. As further support initatives the conservation education society also has provided educational packages for five of the local schools in the area and also provides awareness education for international students. For more info please visit-  www.ceskenya.org


The Diani Turtle Watch was originally started in Diani in 2012 by it’s Watamu based parent organization Local Ocean Conservation. DTW was started with the aim of protecting and creating awareness as to the plight of sea turtles and as an organization seeking to find solutions to the present day problems turtles face when nesting. Around the world, sea turtles are being forced to lay their eggs in bad nesting locations due to beachside development, beach erosion, and nest security from people. For more info on this organisation please visit-  https://localocean.com


The Olive Ridley Project began working in Kenya through a partnership with The Sands at Nomad and the Marine Education Center.  This Project has begun the first turtle ID database in Kenya which had, at the end of November 2019 and from 1663 sightings, identified and databased 401 sea turtles of which 365 were Green turtles and 36 were Hawksbill turtles. The data collected from this and other projects are useful as key indicators of marine ecosystem health. The Sands at Nomad has, for another year, agreed to sponsor and support the Olive Ridley Project throughout 2020. For more info on this please visit www.theoliveridleyproject.org


·      In the coming year there are plans for the MEC to do marine awareness workshops with some of the local boat operators so giving them knowledge on how to manage visitors as well as understand reasons and best-practice on how to preserve the ocean and interact with marine life. 

BELOW ARE SOME BASIC MARINE PROTECTION RULES

It's for the environment and people's livelihoods, please care.

      Don't touch corral
Don't stand on corral
Don't buy sea shells
Don't throw trash into the Ocean.
Don't remove Starfish from the water (they die and they are VERY important for eating sea urchins)
Keep engine rev's low in shallow water.
No Jetski's over corral gardens.
Anchor in Sandy areas do not throw Anchors into corral.
Don't fish in Fish maternity and breeding areas.
Don't buy undersized sea food (sustainable procurement)


Friday, 13 March 2020

RECYCLING CANDLE WAX

Here at the Sands at Nomad we try where possible to stay away from Paraffin based candles as, one, these candles are a by-product of oil refining and two, the burning of Paraffin candle wax releases small amounts of carcinogenic fumes. Where possible try to buy beeswax or rechargeable LED flickering 'candles'.

Old Candles
However, like most hotels we do have a few candles in use and sadly bees wax candles are hard to find and very expensive.

So what happens to the toxic wax when thrown away? Well, like most things 'out-of-sight out-of-mind' it ends up in a landfill.

At The Sands we have been stockpiling our 'waste' candle wax for four months now. We don't have much but we have enough to try to do something with it.. like recycle it.

Melted outside due to fumes







We have heated up a large saucepan on a cooker (the second round on a fire outdoors), thrown the cast-off candles and left over wax into the saucepan, let it all melt, removed the left over old wicks, bugs, sand, matches and leaves until we have a saucepan of melted wax. 

It is VERY important to note that if you are cooking on a live flame.. wax and wax vapour is flammable so only use low flame gas or coals once the flame has died down and remember.. melted wax is hot!

We brought some normal cotton twine, fixed it down the middle of some 'repurposed' glass jars from the restaurant waste, we then poured the molten wax into the jars letting it cool and solidify.



Once solid and contracted we top up the jar and tadaaa.. a new candle made from waste wax which most hotels would send away and try to forget the damage done.

Recycled candles in Jars and up-cycled 'waste' bottles

Thursday, 5 March 2020

ORGANIC FARMING- PERMACULTURE TECHNIQUES- MULTIPLE USES OF THINGS

Sometime ago we posted about the benefits of having a pond (or more than one) in and around your farm, to Re-cap, it attracts and holds natural pest control species like frogs, toads, dragonfly, birds etc and it also provides a water source for your other natural controllers like hedgehogs, lizards and the likes.


Aquatic plants help to clean and oxygenate the water
Well here we will be talking about one of the links between ponds and composting...

Early on we found that we had some problems in the pond as the water was getting murky and full of algae which, to anyone who knows will then cause a de-oxygenation of the water which leads to a die off of your fish and other aquatic organisms. (some of the farm pest controllers)

What we did to remedy the dark, murky and not nice pond water was to add aquatic plant species like reeds and even (some people are going to hate this) a form of water Hyacinth like the one that invades dams and lakes all over East Africa. Yes it is an invasive that, if not managed, can completely destroy water bodies. (NB) -Do not put this plant in a pond or dam that is not going to be managed and completely remove it from ponds that will be left unmanaged.



Recently there was some chat about organisations in western Kenya (Kisumu) using Hyacinth removed off Lake Victoria to build compost.

So..we have a problem with the pond water being dirty and deoxygenated, we need aquatic plants to help clean and oxygenate the water so that the ecosystem is complete.. but the Hyacinth is an invasive that needs managing from time to time (removing some).. but we hear it has a use... building compost!!

Yesterday we did our first trials of an experiment we are sure will be a success. Thanks to the Hyacinth we put in two months ago the pond water is now clear all the way to the bottom, the nutrients are cleaned out by the Hyacinth and other plants, the water is oxygenated, the Fish and Tadpoles are happy. 

So as the Hyacinth 'invades' and takes up too much of the surface area of the pond (leading to less surface to water oxygenation) we removed around 30% of the Hyacith and put it into the day's compost pile with the fruit and veg from the Sands Kitchen plus dry matter. (See making compost as it is an art in itself).

In terms of multiple uses, we have used the Hyacinth to clean and oxygenate the pond on the farm leading to a heathy environment for our semi-aquatic pest control methods.. and we then control the Hyacinth by turning it into compost. (it could probably do well as a mulch also, just an idea)

Imagine the water is VERY full of Ammonia and Nitrates.. this is now in the Hyacinth we are making  into compost for our farm.

Adding Hyacinth to the new compost pile

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

JOURNEY TOWARDS 'LOW' WASTE- PAPER AND CARDBOARD RECYCLING

In our last post about this subject we published some results from our waste production data from last year. We were proud of it but also recognised that we still have far to go. Ok, well as of today a little less far.

Weighing the paper produced. The recyclable bin bags will be reused 
This morning, after having been separating, weighing and recording our production of 'waste' paper, cardboard, magazines for the last couple of weeks (on top of our normal separation efforts) we sent two hundred and seven kilograms of paper products off to be recycled! This basically means that, since 18 days ago we have not burned or sent to the landfill 207 kilograms of 'waste'.

The best thing about this is that we are being paid by the collector per kilo. It's not much but it is something that comes back from 'waste'. It comes to about Ksh 1,600.. it's something.



The next step is to try to get the other hotels in Diani and Tiwi on board so that we can all fill a truck once a week.. they have to be separating their waste first though.

In case you as the reader are interested in joining this paper recycling initiative please note that paper should be separated per type and it cannot be oily, wet or have food stuffs on it.

If you are interested to hear more on how we can come together to lower our collective waste and impact contact Atti at sustainability@thesandskenya.com


Monday, 17 February 2020

ORGANIC FARMING- Why have raised beds?

Using raised beds is a choice one has to make for oneself. It depends on circumstances.


We use broken fridges, freezers, jaccuzis, tyres, drums, bottles, diving tanks and soon adding a boat.
This Photo was taken on the 29th of January 2020.
On the Nomad farm we use raised beds because there is little topsoil on the shallow corral, the earth there is is not very fertile and in some places it has a low PH thanks to the Neem trees shedding their leaves.

This Photo was taken 16 days after the one above. Kress, Basil and Lettuce mixed

  • Raising the beds allows the area within the bed to be treated well and looked after, creating a microclimate filled with the correct microorganisms that help with productivity. IE- It's easier to control soil biology.


  • The more the beds are off the ground the less pests there are.


  • The higher the bed the easier the management and harvesting of it. (Waist height is ideal- Not having to bend or crouch).


  • Some negative's would be that some raised beds can dry out faster than ground beds. However this can be remedied by what material is used in the raised bed.

Adding worms to a contained raised bed means the worm colony will form, aerate the soil, fertilise the bed with their castings and so hopefully create a growing space that will take little effort to keep it producing.. sustainable thinking.





Friday, 14 February 2020

ORGANIC FARMING- Challenges -'SIAFU' a risk to chicken farming

It is always good to write about some of the problems faced in organic farming, others might be able to learn without having to make the same mistakes and maybe our solutions might help others facing the same issues.. in this case SIAFU or Army Ants.


Trying to stop the main army lines coming 
A couple of weeks ago, at eleven at night a call came from the Nomad farm reporting 'Siafu' were in the hen house'. It turned out the invasion was far larger. They were everywhere, the ground around the chickens and compost piles and the growing beds was literally crawling in battle ready ants ranging from a few millimetres to 3 centimetres in size.

We arrived in time to save the hens by setting fire to cut, dry grass and scattering it around the hen house before working our ways down the main 'arteries' of ants pouring in. NB. We were fortunate that we had access to cut, dried grass as we had been preparing to use it for mulching once dried and seeds had dropped.

The hens are waiting for the bugs from the freshly turned compost piles. One of the reasons for the piles being located here. An easy design idea that makes a difference in the long run (more free range diet) but it comes with its challenges.

Invasions like this happen occasionally throughout sub-saharan Africa, usually around the time of the rains when there is plenty of creatures around for the army ants to subdue in a blanket of bites before eating.. they are fully carnivorous ants, no salad for them. On the positive side they can be considered an 'African Spring-clean'. They enter one's house on one side, clean it out of bugs, mice, snakes, rats, and off they go.

In retrospect- the Ants were aiming for the bugs and grubs in the compost piles and the hen house.. not for the hens, but because the sawdust inside had not been replaced in far too long it was full of chicken poop and all the bugs that love that stuff.. all perfect Siafu food.

The compost piles, which were located along the edge of the hen run to make tossing fruit and veg to the hens easy and also so that the compost would attract and breed lots of bugs, some of which would end up in the hen run.. to help their diets be as free range as possible.

The problem is that a colony of millions of Siafu is like a single organism that consumes all slow moving living things in their path.. and we had enticed them right into our hen house.

So solutions?...PREVENTION. 

1.  We will change the saw dust more often, especially during the rainy season.

2.  After using fire to keep them at bay at night when they were most active we then collected some used engine oil from the Generator at The Sands and 're-used' it on all the legs of the chicken house where they were climbing up. We also re-oiled the stand for the Jacuzzi 'wormary' as Siafu LOVE worms.

3.  Wood ash poured on the ground in lines around ant sensitive areas also works until the ash gets wet and then it needs reapplication.

The hen house after the night of the ants.
 The house is built out of recycled wood, the nest boxes are recycled PET  bottles.
*Interestingly, when the old oil arrived at the farm someone thought it was for pouring ONTO the lines of Siafu! NOT A GOOD PLAN as oil is toxic and farms and ground water is not where it's wanted, keep it on the posts and walls. Luckily not too much damage was done.

  • It is important to note that Siafu and their invasions are a natural phenomenon, they provide an essential service to an ecosystem balancing populations of species that can otherwise get out of hand. (Mice, Rats, Termites etc) Completely Killing the colony (as opposed to trying to prevent it's attack on certain areas) is not permaculture lifestyle and it will come back to haunt you in other ways.

UPCYCLING PLASTIC BOTTLES- PET

We have already made a couple of posts on this subject but here we are just going to add a couple more ways that we have found to re-use PE...