Best of the Maldives: Bottle Walls – Makunudu

Makunudu - bottle walls 2

Makunudu has its own “green” wall for its beach massage pavilion. The design isn’t just a creative re-use of the troublesome plastic water bottles, but also the semi-opacity infused the space with a muted and dappled light in the daytime. This innovation is just one of several clever uses of bottles so I have decided to add a “Bottles” category tag with this post.

Makunudu - bottle walls

Best of the Maldives: Eco-Garden Plots – Kurumba

Kurumba - bottle garden 1

What better use for a bottle than an S.O.S. message? How about an S.O.S. for the entire planet? Starting with creating a sustainable gardening plot? Kurumba used old beer bottles to build an array of gardening plots on the island giving new eco-friendly meaning to the word “bottling plant”. I guess the “S.O.S.” message in their bottles stands for “Sustainable Old Steins”. Not to mention that they have literally created the infamous song…

A hundred bottles of beer in the wall, a hundred bottles of beer…

Kurumba - bottle garden 2

Best of the Maldives: Eco-Pathways – Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo

Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo walkway liners

When the world gives you lemons…make lemonade.

When the world gives you lemonade bottles…make eco-friendly walkway.

One of the more creative solutions to the earth-friendly plastic bottle disposal issue in the Maldives is Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo’s walkways. They have coated their discarded plastic bottles with a layer of natural looking cement and used the result cylinders to make an extensive set of walkway liners.


Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo eco pathways

Best of the Maldives: Recycling – Kurumba

Kurumba recycling 2
Lori and Jason Kruse, Kurumba GM, with ground glass

With my emphasis on discovery it took some big stuff to lure back to Kurumba for the third time when there were so many unseen resorts to hit. But I must say that the detour was worth it with quite possibly the most inspiring “Best of the Maldives” discovery of the entire trip.

To date, most resort eco-initiatives have fallen into the following categories…

But as anyone who has ridden by Thilafushi will attest, the sheer volume of waste and rubbish is a massive challenge for the country. Most resorts are looking at packaging and waste reduction initiatives. But Kurumba is leading the way with a strikingly comprehensive recycling programme.

And investments they are. First, Kurumba has shelled out some serious capital to get some advanced machinery to process the waste. But more so than that, Kurumba is experimenting with these gadgets and tuning them and the processes around them to get the most out of them.

  • Bottles – Ground down and used in cement
  • Coconut Husks – Ground down into “choir” which is used to make ropes and a range of building materials. Also, using coconut husks to fuel their BBQs. They found out that the husks burn hotter than the charcoal used previously so they have had to adjust their cooking.
  • Green Waste – Shedder composter which mixes heat+air+bacteria for accelerated decomposition. Material basically broken down in 3 hours and then let sit for 40 days (it was supposed to be 10 days, but experimentation has shown 40 to be ideal for the best soil creation). Going through 1700 kgs of kitchen waste per day.
  • Styrofoam – Shedder to make filler for things like beanbags. Not working properly, but still experimenting to get it right.

Kurumba is sharing its expertise with other resorts now and hopes to pioneer a drive to zero waste in the Maldives. If successful, Thilafushi could itself be relegated to the dustbin of history.


Kurumba plastic recycling

Plastic and Styrofoam recycling


Kurumba recycling

Green waste mulching


Kurumba recycling 5

Green waste accelerated composting


Kurumba coconut recycling

Shredded coconut husks

Best of the Maldives: Bottled Water – Kuramathi

Kuramathi bottled water

If you prefer to imbibe rather than immerse in Maldivian aqueous refreshment, then Kuramathi has developed the tipple for you…

Kuramathi Water. This clean, potable water made on the island emanates from a Classic Crystal purification system, ensuring the highest levels of quality and standards. The finished product is a glass bottle containing fresh drinking water. The bottle comes in two sizes, 500ml and 1 litre, and is a complimentary amenity for guests staying on Full Board. The bottles are also replenished from the guest’s stock every day. Reusing glass bottles is a milestone for Kuramathi, making our carbon footprint smaller as it would save the usage of about 300,000 plastic bottles discarded every year. To provide our guests with a memoir of Kuramathi, the bottles will be sold at the bars for very reasonable prices. One other interesting aspect about this water is that they are bottled in two forms; as still and sparkling waters.”

Perfectly timed launch coinciding with the Maldives’ ‘Always Natural’ campaign.

Among the old-timer Maldives aficionados, there is a bit of nostalgia for the ‘no shoes, no news’ simplicity of old school Maldivian simple paradise. One of the details of that nearly by-gone era that my wife Lori and I miss are the battered ‘re-used’ soda bottles. With the ecological mantra of “Reduce-Reuse-Recycle”, the re-used bottles were actually more environmentally progressive than the current practice of recycling. They had a sea-glass charm covered with the patina of many quenched thirsts. They also had sturdy heft to them for durability, but also making drinking from the bottle like holding a sculpted glass mug.  But, Kuramathi now takes it a reuse a step further adding locally produced beverage.