The Challenge of Running an Eco-Friendly Hotel
If you’re trying to live an eco-friendly life home at home, you know it can be challenging to always choose earth-friendly products in eco-responsible packaging, recycle, and avoid wasting resources. For hotels, these challenges are magnified, When we travel, we don’t leave our green attitudes behind, but many of us focus first and foremost on other things, like our business meetings or our vacations, and what we primarily expect of a hotel is comfort and convenience if not a bit of luxury. Hotels know this, want to satisfy their customers, and so until recently many haven’t much emphasis on being Earth-friendly.
Fortunately, that’s changing as the world becomes more eco-responsible and we increasingly expect businesses to satisfy our desires but be eco-friendly as well. From budget facilities to 5-star palaces, hotels are finding ways to take care of their customers but go green as well.
How to Run an Eco-Friendly Hotel
Grouped by category, the following practices and eco-friendly products provide something of a blueprint for operating an Earth-friendly hotel.
The Eco-Friendly Hotel: Basic Conservation
- Energy conservation. Environmentally-friendly hotels are taking a comprehensive approach to reduce energy consumption without detracting from the experiences they provide for their guests. This eco-responsible strategy involves improvements to the kitchen equipment, lighting systems, boilers, and automated energy management.
- Water conservation. More efficient equipment and practices reduce the waste of water. Low-flow faucets and showerheads and towel and linen reuse programs are steps in the right direction, and the choice of eco-friendly chemicals for cleaning and treating water can reduce waste in bathrooms, spas, pools, laundries, and kitchens as well.
The Eco-Friendly Hotel: Products and Packaging
- To be Earth-friendly, a hotel must use furniture that promotes sustainability. Happily, the industry is now creating materials to fill this need. A prime example is Densicor®, a waterproof, fire-retardant substance from Ecofixtures that both looks and feels like wood and can be used for vanity bases, cabinets, desks, end tables, and hotel furniture in general.
- Room keys. Traditionally, room keys have been made of a plastic manufactured via a toxic, environmentally damaging process. Paper, wood, and bioplastic alternatives are turning out to be equally durable while providing a more eco-responsible alternative.
- Cleaning products. Cleaning products that contain petrochemical derivatives and chlorine bleach are bad for the environment and even have the potential to irritate the skin. More natural products based on natural cleaners like bio-based oils perform well and are safer for those who come in contact with them.
- In the kitchen. Greater emphasis on local products and fresh, seasonal organic produce is eco-friendly and promotes healthier and more sustainable cuisine. As a bonus, it enriches guests’ appreciation of the location they’re visiting. Similarly, hormone-free meats and dairy provide for healthier menu selections.
- In the spa. Here, too, hotels are placing increasing emphasis on treatments utilizing natural, organic products, ideally, local ingredients that once again foster a greater engagement with the travel destination.
- In the bathroom. Custom formulated amenities promote the hotel brand, and if they’re made from all-natural products without preservatives and come in recyclable packaging, they’re eco-friendly as well. Bulk dispenser presentations provide another green alternative in certain hotels.
- The move away from bottled water. We all need water, but bottled water with its wasteful packaging is not a particularly eco-responsible way of providing it. Accordingly, hotels are opting for alternative ways to provide water for travelers and meeting attendees. These green alternatives include complimentary refillable bottles and filtered water dispensers in convenient locations.
The Eco-Friendly Hotel: Recycling and Waste Reduction
- Basic recycling. Though some domestic hotels have yet to implement it fully, recycling for items like beverage containers and paper has become the standard in the hotel industry.
- Paper and other disposables. Earth-friendly hotels are seeking ways to reduce the use of paper and other material that gets thrown away in considerable quantities.
- Studies have shown that hotels with food waste composting programs divert as much as 40-50% of the waste that would otherwise end up in landfills.
The takeaway from all this is that there’s a great deal hotels can do to reduce their carbon footprints and promote sustainability without detracting from the enjoyment of their guests, and as we all become increasingly concerned about environmental issues, we can expect more and more of them to adopt eco-friendly practices.