This post was written by Faye Lessler, and originally appears on her blog Sustaining Life.
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As more and more people around the world gain access and economic ability to explore, the global travel and tourism industries are booming. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, “the travel and tourism sector grew 4.6%” in 2017, it’s 7th consecutive year of growth. As the industry expands and more and more people wander the globe, the impact of all that travel increases as well. With billions of people traveling the world each year there comes the cost of carbon output, water usage, pollution, and waste. While it may not be the largest contributor to climate change – and it can certainly be difficult to combat when going up against global corporations whose products rely on single-use plastics – waste is one aspect of travel that can be minimized by travelers and hosts alike. Hara House in Northern India is doing just that by building India’s first zero-waste guesthouse, with a side of social good.
Founders of Hara House, Manoj Gour and Jazzmine Lawton Raine, are both passionate about travel, tourism, sustainability, and social entrepreneurship. They’ve managed to combine their separate skillsets to build something that hits all four notes in the Hara House guesthouse and the Hara Innovation Fund. Hara House is located in Bikaner, Rajasthan, India and will be tackling the global waste problem by practicing zero-waste initiatives at their guest house while simultaneously educating guests to do the same in their own lives and working with other local businesses to help them move closer to zero-waste status, too.
Not only is Hara House furnished with upcycled and reused goods, they also refrain from using any kind of single-use plastics, provide reusable tote bags for all guests, encourage tracking and conserving water usage with meters in the shower rooms, source food locally and without packaging, compost all food waste, and rely on cow poop and solar energy to power the property. This is just the beginning of Hara House’s zero-waste and sustainability initiatives which they intend to expand as their business grows.
On top of making a positive environmental impact, Hara House is committed to providing resources and opportunities for the local community in Bikaner as well. Through the Hara Innovation Fund, they will invest in educational and environmental action projects as well as provide resources for their own community hub and workspace. They are already working with Educare India and Doodlage and plan to expand their support system by putting 20% of all room and tour booking profits towards the Hara Innovation Fund.
I was inspired to learn of this ambitious undertaking that has taken a global trend (often reserved for those with privilege) and turned it into a force for good. I couldn’t wait to hear more about it so I caught up with one of the founders, Jazzmine Lawton Raine, to get the story behind Hara House and hear about their plans, hopes, and worries for the future of the business.
SL: You and Manoj have very different backgrounds – how did the two of you meet and what made you decide to begin working together?