Your ultimate guide to sustainable travel in Southeast Asia
Have a fun and feel-good holiday at these hotels, shops and restaurants that take sustainability seriously.
- December 2019
As sustainability marches into the mainstream, travellers are demanding more eco-friendly options. Jump on the bandwagon with this list of hotels, shops and restaurants in Southeast Asia that are committed to reducing the amount of waste they produce.
The Hideout, Koh Yao Noi
Accessible via boat from Phuket, this rustic resort opens in new window on the lush island of Koh Yao Noi is as eco-conscious as they come. For instance, disused fabrics such as old bed linens and bathrobes are repurposed as cleaning cloths. The kitchen also turns leftovers into homemade jams, syrups and tonics. Earlier this year, the resort launched The Hideout Trash Adventure Project, which rewards guests who opt to collect trash on the island with cocktails.
Akyra TAS, Sukhumvit, Bangkok
This chic spot opens in new window was purportedly the first city hotel in Asia to ban single-use plastic when it opened in May 2018. Here, guests are offered stainless steel water bottles upon check-in, which they can refill throughout their stay. Bathroom amenities are stored in locally manufactured celadon dispensers, while all bin bags are biodegradable.
Alila Seminyak, Bali
In November 2018, all four of Alila’s Bali properties, including Alila Seminyak opens in new window, achieved zero waste to landfill — a notable achievement for a major hotel chain. This was attained largely thanks to an on-site Integrated Sustainable Resource Recovery Facility (iSuRRF) — a laboratory where waste such as plastics and ceramics is either recycled, transformed into green building materials or converted into crude oil.
Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
This upscale resort opens in new window has been flying the flag for sustainability ever since it opened in 2012, making it one of the zero-waste pioneers in the hotel industry. “Since day one, we have only used bamboo straws for our drinks. We also refill glass drinking bottles in-house and all excess food waste from our restaurants is composted and donated to local farmers,” says general manager Donald Wong.
The Little Clothing Shop, Kuala Lumpur
This fashion label opens in new window and e-tailer uses just about every centimetre of fabric when crafting its creations, thanks to an ingenious production method. Pattern pieces of each garment are drafted to fit together like a jigsaw before being cut by hand, thereby minimising textile waste to no more than two grams of excess material per final product.
Launched in 2016, lifestyle brand Rehyphen opens in new window gives discarded cassettes and videotapes a new lease of life. “50 million tons of electronic waste was generated in 2018, and only 20 percent of it was recycled. We decided to approach the problem creatively by weaving the polyester film from cassettes and videotapes into a durable material to make tote bags, coasters and clutches,” says founder JJ Chuan, who sells her creations at her etsy store opens in new window.
Good Krama, Phnom Penh
Good Krama opens in new window buys dead stock fabric from local garment factories and fashions them into timeless pieces, ranging from tank tops to jumpsuits and jackets. It also works with handwoven materials such as krama (hence the name), a sturdy traditional Cambodian garment; as well as silk from the Takeo province.
Address: #5, 12302, St 244, Phnom Penh
goodkrama.com opens in new window
OWL Bulk Store, Penang
Here opens in new window, you’ll find pretty much all the lifestyle items you’ll need to be an eco-warrior: from metal straws and bamboo toothbrushes to wooden utensils and reusable mugs. Food-wise, take your pick from nuts, grains and even nostalgic snacks like fancy gem biscuits.
Helmed by two young chefs, this intimate 16-seater restaurant opens in new window celebrates overstocked, over-ripened and misshapen fruits and vegetables — essentially, “imperfect” produce that would otherwise be consigned to the bin. These are paired with other ingredients (such as sustainably sourced seafood, native greens and secondary cuts of meat) to create elegant dishes such as a chipotle-berry glazed Wagyu chuck tender with vegetable jus and roasted cauliflower.
Indonesia’s first-ever zero-waste restaurant opens in new window is constructed almost entirely from scrap materials: furniture is crafted from foam offcuts and recycled wood, while the terrazzo-style floor is flecked with broken glasses and plates. Candles are derived from leftover vegetable oil, and drinking glasses are made from old beer bottles.
Sustainability, farm-to-table, zero-waste … these terms aren’t thrown around casually at Haoma opens in new window. They inform and shape every aspect of this Neo-Indian fine dining restaurant, from small things like insisting that their vegetable suppliers use reusable cotton bags to building an integrated farming system at the back of the restaurant. “We make pellets from food waste and water from the kitchen is purified to raise fish. The water that’s now fertilised with fish waste is used to hydroponically grow over 30 herbs that we would otherwise need to import to Bangkok,” says chef-owner Deepanker Khosla.
John Anthony, Hong Kong
This restaurant’s opens in new window cocktail menu keeps waste to a minimum, with fruit husks repurposed as garnishes and leftover lemons used to make falernum, a type of Caribbean liqueur. Its decor is equally eco-friendly — menus and candle holders are made from upcycled paper and plastic, while chairs and tables are locally produced instead of imported to keep its carbon footprint to a minimum. Even staff uniforms are fashioned from recycled fabrics.