July 31, 2018
Although there are several laws in place to support environmental health and longevity like the Clean Water Act, Nuclear Waste Policy Act and Endangered Species Act, sustainability initiatives are largely dependent on the efforts of individual people and companies.
Hospitality is one industry that has stepped up its “green game” in support of Mother Earth across several facets. Nearly every brand has created and executed initiatives to reduce its negative impact on the environment while proactively taking steps to help reverse the damage already done. For example, Hilton announced earlier this year to cut its environmental footprint in half by 2030. From reducing water consumption and waste, to using eco-friendly products, to planting trees and advocating for local, organic, in-season produce in their restaurants (some even growing their own), hotels are making substantial changes to create a better, cleaner world for everyone.
First of all, hotels around the world have started slashing the amount of water used in their facilities. Encouraging guests to reuse their sheets and towels on multi-day stays, installing low-flow faucets and showerheads, and utilizing toilet tank fill diverters that save three quarters of a gallon of water per flush, are just a few of the initiatives being implemented. IHG has established a Green Engage program that allows its properties to track and measure its water and utility consumption and carbon footprint.
Some hotels are even re-landscaping their flowerbeds with native foliage and succulents which require less water. Planting on rooftops is another green trend being embraced by hotels. Aside from it looking pretty, this effort lowers energy bills, improves air quality and helps manage rainwater. A few years ago, The Four Seasons brand took a monumental extra step and conceived a Ten Million Trees Initiative in celebration of their 50th Anniversary, planting the ten million trees in the thirty-four countries where its hotels are located.
The hospitality industry has also taken significant strides to cut down on waste. Many have started donating outdated items to local shelters, installing shampoo/conditioner/soap dispensers in showers instead of supplying individual plastic bottles, composting and donating applicable food to farms or charities, and even offering refillable water bottles in place of the traditional plastic ones. Paper waste has dwindled by having menus and brochures available digitally, printing double-sided on recycled paper when necessary, and having recycling bins easily accessible.
Using eco-friendly products in the guest rooms have also become common practice in many hotels. Cleaning products that are harsher on the environment, as well as employees and guests, have been swapped for environmentally conscious options. Furthermore, these products are often purchased in bulk to reduce superfluous packaging. One standout, Bio Green Crystals, a biodegradable, non-toxic, zero-waste cleaning product, is being used in many top properties like Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco and even donates some of its proceeds to charity.
Some hotels, like the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia and Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia, have taken this a step further and offer guests gift cards each day they forego housekeeping service during their stay.
Many hotels have transitioned their traditional incandescents light bulbs for compact fluorescent ones, cutting their energy use. Other energy saving initiatives include the installation of motion-sensored thermostats and high-efficiency natural energy boilers as well as adopting key cards made from paper, wood, or bioplastic which is not only more sustainable, but less energy intensive to manufacture as well.
Studies have shown guests are much more likely to stay at properties that have a strong environmental focus, one source finding 68% of tourists prefer eco-friendly hotels over hotels without green initiatives, further encouraging these positive, eco-friendly endeavors at properties all over the world. As the failing health of our world becomes more and more apparent, the call for action in creating green initiatives and alternatives becomes critical. Hotels are one of the leading industries setting the example for other companies to take the first of many steps to answer the call and decrease their environmental footprint.
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