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Responsible Tourism

Community programs

The Green Elephant strives to be an active member in our community and aids the development of personal skills and programs.
We have supported in the past and continue to support:

Observatory Improvement District (ObsID)

We sit on the safety committee of ObsID and contribute to the neighbourhood safety program. We communicate via the neighbourhood watch radio and the Green Elephant 24-hour reception keeps an eye out for suspicious activity and reports it to the neighbourhood watch.

Oasis Recycling

All recyclable waste produced at Green Elephant is collected by Oasis Recycling. Oasis’ recycling centre provides employment and income for intellectually disabled men and women.

The Haven

The Haven is a night shelter adults living on the street. We contribute sporadically to The Haven and sell lunch vouchers at The Green Elephant reception.

Fountain House

Fountain House is a program that helps mentally-challenged people get into mainstream employment. Green Elephant was involved in Fountain House under the management of Robin.

Staff education & training

At Green Elephant we understand that educating and training our staff is important for morale and good service. In the past we helped with the following education:

  • Rina – secretarial course
  • Sophia – Masincedane Training Centre
  • Wendy – junior school
  • Fatima – high school
  • Solomon – junior school
  • Pat – cooking course
  • Mavis – sewing course
  • Carne – driving lessons
  • Nyasha – tour guide qualification

In 2013, Nyasha is involved in a learnership for a management qualification.


The Green Elephant is committed to impact positively on the society we live in. This necessarily involves supporting different charities, organisations and staff in need.

Theatre Arts Admin Collective

May 2012
We sponsored accommodation for aspiring young artists from Johannesburg. We also sponsored toward transporting kids from the Gugulethu and Langa townships to come to the Wesley Street Church Theatre as part of the Children’s Theatre Program.

Pat’s Shack

Pat Mbutuma has been working at Green Elephant Backpackers since we opened our doors in 1994. Ma Pat needs a space to call home so the Green Elephant team has been actively investigating the best housing options for her new grounds in Khayelitsha. We are collaborating with Ikhayalami, a not-for-profit organisation whose aim is to help upgrade informal settlements affordably. We’re trying to raise R10 000 for her and with help will hopefully succeed.

Farai’s kidney failure

2013 was not a good year for Green Elephant staff member, Farai, who discovered she had kidney failure. Green Elephant subscribed Farai and is currently sponsoring her monthly medical aid contributions. We’ve also helped her with general healthcare and sponsored trips home to Zimbabwe to visit her family.

Clothes collections

The staff collect clothes from guests that get donated to township organizations.

Environmental plan

We are committed to low impact and sustainable tourism to preserve our natural beauty for the next generations. This is what we are doing at the Green Elephant Backpackers to achieve this:

  • We use a solar water heating system that preheats our existing electrical geyser.
  • An energy-efficient hot water boiler is used instead of a kettle for tea and coffee.
  • Cooking is done on gas which reduces the energy wasted on heating metal plates.
  • Our lighting includes as much natural light as possible.
  • Where electric light is used, energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs are installed.
  • Insulation sheets are in the roof to reduce heat loss in winter.
  • Glass doors partially enclose the balcony upstairs to keep it warmer in winter.
  • Water pipes are insulated in the walls.
  • We recycle as much of our waste as possible. All recyclables are collected by Oasis Recycling.
  • We store the grey water from the washing machines and recycle it into toilets for flushing.
  • The beer at the bar is ordered either in refundable bottles or recyclable cans.
  • We reuse packaging as plant pots.
  • Organic waste is put either in our worm farm or compost bins.
  • Low flow shower heads are installed. These save water and electricity.
  • Dishes are washed in a dishwasher. Dishwashers are a far more energy efficient way to wash cutlery and crockery. It uses as little water as possible and does not run the water down the drain to wash one item!
  • Rain water is directed into a 2500 litre storage tank. This water is used to water the garden or to top up the swimming pool.
  • Howard cycles to work when he can.
  • All the staff are educated in on how to sustainability principles.