Phase one of RuralRevive will be the establishment of a laundry facility in the village of Maltahöhe with economic development opportunities through job creation and service offering diversification. Although the number of jobs will be small, they will prioritise women from the immediate vicinity, and be entended on a flexi-time basis so that personal responsbilities may also be fulfilled.
While the potential for economic opportunities for Maltahöhe are the obvious motivation for this activity, establishing a laundry there also has conservation benefits for the more sensitive desert ecosystem of the Greater Sossusvlei-NamibRand Landscape (GSNL). For each tourism operator in the GSNL region to do their own laundry, the extraction requirements from the underground water sources in the desert are significant, not to mention the energy consumed, detergent used (and disposed of), staff time needed and space required. Shifting laundry services will reduce the demand on the underground water veins of this fragile desert environment and redistribute it to areas with a more robust supply, such as Maltahöhe.
Any development initiatives in which Wolwedans is a partner must reflect the same commitment to sustainability that we embrace in our own operations. This includes the establishment of the laundry facility for RuralRevive in Maltahöhe; water, energy and waste will be managed as sustainably as possible from the outset.
Wolwedans subscribes to the concept of the “circular economy” whereby outputs (or ‘waste’) from one process or purpose are used as inputs for another. By adequately filtering the grey water output from the laundry, it can be reused as an input for another purpose such as watering agricultural crops, trees or other landscaping. It could also be plumbed into toilet cisterns so that drinking water is not used for flushing. Re-using the laundry's grey water will also compensate for the water demand from the laundry operations.
Appropriate uses for recycled grey water will be identified in the area surrounding the Maltahöhe Laundry operating site so that we can maximise the volume of grey water that can be used a second time. In addition, all detergents used for laundry services will be biodegradable to ensure that the operation’s impact is minimised and to reduce the grey water filtration and treatment requirements.
The Maltahöhe Laundry will be solar powered to demonstrate that clean, renewable energy can and should be the default option for all local development projects. All of the laundry's energy needs – from the borehole pumping its water to the 50kW solar installation that will power the 'on' switch of the energy efficient washing machines – everything will be driven by the clean, solar power that is offered to us by nature.
Waste produced by the laundry facility will be minimised, including wastewater (see above for water reuse commitments) and solid waste. Buying in bulk will reduce packaging needs and we will investigate options to ensure that "re-usable" is first choice. For example, when detergent and delivery packaging can either be returned for refilling or re-used multiple times before being recycled. This will also tie in with our on-going clean-up campaign and our "Trash2Treasure" initiative where the value of "waste" will be demonstrated and start to shift mindsets in a society that has become far too addicted to the convenience of 'disposable'.