Hello! I am Tim, live from EcoCamp Patagonia the 1st geodesic hotel on the planet We are here in one of the most beautiful places on Earth Torres del Paine National Park in Southern Chile and believe me, places as beautiful and wild as here are also very fragile EcoCamp was born in 2001 but it’s not the few tiny domes with no electricity it was at the beginning anymore Now it’s more like an alternative hotel or “Ecolodge” with 33 domes for the guests that’s cosy but that also became pretty well-known around the world for its commitment to sustainable travel Wait! What’s sustainable? You may define it as a way to develop while caring for the future of the planet and the people but at EcoCamp we like to be a bit more specific and we talk about the 4C’s With the 4C’s EcoCamp is commited to caring for environment conservation, embracing local culture, supporting the local community, and being a viable business that also cares for the planet You wanna know how? Because like us the founders of EcoCamp Yerko Ivelic, Nani Astorga and Javier Lopez love nature, they’ve been working hard to use its resources in a renewable way About 75% of the energy here is provided by water Up to 20% is provided by the sun and less than 5% is generated by a nonrenewable source of energy like fossil fuels We do have a gas generator but we use it only in case of emergency EcoCamp has a water intake on a nearby river and this water eventually enters a micro-hydro turbine at 10 liters per second With the 4 turbines we have in our Energy Room we can deliver up to 3500 Watts per hour Then we use an inverter to switch from 24 Volts DC in the battery bank to 220 AC, the standard voltage in Chile As for the photovoltaic panels they do a pretty cool job in Summer with up to 17 hours of daylight a day They’re also connected to the battery bank and collect the extra energy needed to power the whole hotel including the energy intensive fridges in the kitchen There are also solar panels connected to thermosifons that act like a boiler to heat up the showers That’s a good way to spare a big amount of gas every year Careful though! Having a renewable source of energy doesn’t mean we can live like kings Hairdryers and electric water heaters are not allowed and Patagonian winds are the best hairdryers anyway As a matter of fact, using only one hairdryer would be equivalent to 75% of the energy available at EcoCamp And we work hard to save energy Domes are great for that because with their huge windows they capture lots of natural light In fact domes are just great You know why? No concrete was used to build them so we can remove them without leaving any footprint Actually all of them were built on wooden platforms and they’re connected by wooden walkways so we don’t disrupt the local fauna and cause erosion and they’re green which fits quite well in this insane landscape, don’t you think? For insulation we use Fisiterm basically a layer of polyester fibers It maintains the heat pretty well even at night but when it’s cold outside and believe me it happens in the mountains we heat the domes with woodfire like in the Suite Domes and eventually propane gas like in the Superior domes I know this may not sound very eco-friendly but we’re improving and are currently working with pellet stoves in our Community Domes which uses recycled wood and have a lower footprint Nothing is sustainable without a careful use of water and much more than energy water here, one of the purest in the world must remain as pure as possible as it flows through EcoCamp and the main issue when it comes to water in National Parks is the toilets Here each Suite and Superior Dome which have private bathroom has its own composting toilet Same thing in the shared bathroom used for the Standard Domes where you’ll find 6 composting chambers not to mention the solar panels we use to ventilate them The bactery that processes the compost is mixed every day with woodchips then it’s kept heated to keep the compost process active At the end of the season compost is used for soil regeneration See? Poo can be good for the environment At EcoCamp we understood it and moved one step forward This is the biofiltration dome where black waters that come from the Staff area are purified and given back to nature Waters first go through a filtration system where largest inorganic solids are retained Then earthworms do their job in this tank where the bacteria they produce through their castings or worm poo works hard to dissolve the contaminants Water is then filtered through a system of layers including sawdust and gravel before ending its way into nature You could even drink it! As for solid waste, again it serves for soil regeneration Greywater, like the water that comes from the kitchen is treated separately and filtered to remove contaminants like oil But because we want to make sure water is clean EcoCamp provides biodegradable products to everyone here The other huge issue in National Parks is waste EcoCamp works hard to separate its waste and the team is trained to do so There are still lots of efforts to do in Patagonia and the non-organic waste must travel at least 300 kilometers to be treated in Punta Arenas But we recycle whatever we can, from cardboard and plastics to glass and batteries Organic waste is collected to produce compost that’s used for the soil And we want to use it to grow vegetables, when our greenhouse is ready Sustainable food is a very fun part of EcoCamp Good news is that the cuisine staff has been working hard to give birth to a delicious Chilean Fusion food Same thing in the bar, with unexpected Patagonian cocktails Both our Chef and Mixologist use local products they simply find in the surroundings But you can’t get what you want in Patagonia and that’s a great opportunity to support the locals In Puerto Natales, 2 hours away from EcoCamp there are some passionate farmers who do a great job growing organic fruits and vegetables EcoCamp supports a couple of family-businesses working with delicious products so you can’t say your food is not fresh, even if you’re in the middle of nowhere Actually Puerto Natales is home to lots of families supported by EcoCamp people who do the laundry service without using any dryer, meaning they’re more eco-friendly or sell us bread for the lunchbox, fish and meat, for instance But the commitment to the community doesn’t stop here EcoCamp supports a nearby school while inviting local students so they can learn about the sustainability of the place By the way EcoCamp also invites children from a children’s home every year so they can discover some new stuff in a place they always find very fun Anything that’s local is good For that reason every month EcoCamp invites local handcrafters so that travelers can get to know their work and eventually buy their products That’s a way to enhance commerce on a local scale and we also sell local handicrafts in our gift shop dome The company also gets involved in bigger community projects EcoCamp supports inclusive tourism and partnered with an organization called Wheel the World to allow disabled travelers to explore the trails of Torres del Paine National Park The wheelchair is at EcoCamp and we want to use it as regularly as possible EcoCamp also supports inclusive tourism for blind travelers and that’s only the beginning Actually we like to get involved with partners who have a cause we consider important EcoCamp partners with Torres del Paine Legacy Fund an organization that supports projects in the park like trail restoration or recycling We have lots of people amongst our staff who regularly volunteer with them for the wellbeing of the park and we propose travelers to donate We also partner with AMA an organization that aims to grow baby Lenga trees to replant them after a couple of devastating fires Because we believe acting together makes a much bigger impact We want travelers to feel connected at EcoCamp that’s why we do not provide WiFi and promote digital detox That’s a cool way to see how happy they are when they connect to each other and enjoy the beauty of the place And we like to teach them some eco-tips so hopefully they can have an impact when they go back home too You see EcoCamp works hard to reduce all its emissions but we can’t go to zero yet And we know how global warming has a huge impact on Patagonia’s climate and glaciers and jeopardizes the future of Torres del Paine So we offset all the CO2 we generate Vehicles’ gas, propane for water heating and kitchen’s oven even the CO2 we generate in our Santiago and Puerto Natales offices is calculated each year and offsetted You can also help the planet while offsetting your own flight to Patagonia I hope you learnt something cool and if you’ve got questions you know who to ask