By Alex Gaggioli
There is a growing demand for sustainability in travel. Travelers are worried about the negative impact a travel business might have on the environment and, for many, sustainability has become a decisive factor when choosing the next destination. That is why hotels should try to become more eco-friendly to attract this type of green traveler.
But what does it mean to be sustainable in the hotel industry? In this snippet of The Turndown Podcast by Cloudbeds, Julie Cheetham, Founding Member and Managing Director of Weeva, defines sustainability in hotels. In her opinion, business sustainability should go beyond green initiatives.
Although sustainability can be defined as the commercial balance and should include other aspects besides green initiatives, this article will focus on some initiatives’ financial and economic impacts that will help your property reduce costs, stop wasting resources, and be more eco-friendly.
6 ways to make your hotel more sustainable
As a hotelier, you’re familiar with the high costs of utilities. Wasteful water, electricity, and labor practices can drive your operational costs up. By nature, hotels and other properties are wasteful. Sheets, towels, and little toiletries are only used a few times before being washed or discarded. Rooms are often kept cold in the summer and warm in the winter, all of which use a lot of energy. But, there are plenty of things your property can do to lessen the effect of your property on the environment.
Tip #1: Towel and sheet reuse program
Towel and sheet reuse programs are the most widespread programs. Hotels are notorious for providing fresh linens every day as a courtesy. But, while it’s nice to grab a freshly cleaned towel every morning, it’s completely unnecessary. The majority of people don’t use fresh towels every day at home and don’t need them while traveling either.
It’s now common to see small placards in hotel bathrooms that alert guests of towel renewal programs. If a guest wants to reuse their towel, all they need to do is hang it up. If they would like a new towel, they can place it somewhere else. The placards usually mention how the program benefits the earth, usually in terms of how much water is saved. The amount of water saved will depend on your property’s size, but it’s likely to be somewhere in the hundreds of gallons per day range.
The program is beneficial to both the environment and your property. Less laundry results in less water consumption. It also reduces the amount of work you or your cleaning staff have to complete every day. Labor and utilities are among the two largest operational cost contributors, and this program addresses both.
Tip #2: Recycling
A recycling program seems like a no-brainer, but plenty of properties do not have recycling bins in each of their rooms. While recycling programs won’t necessarily increase your bottom line, they are crucial to any property that wants to be green. Recycling bins should be placed in every room as well as around the property.
Your staff, from front desk agents to kitchen staff, should be aware of any and all recycling initiatives. More laws and legislation are being put into place that requires businesses of a certain size to recycle. Many governments will actually fine properties that don’t recycle. For example, the state of California has steep fines in place for properties that fail to comply, as shown on CalRecycle’s website. While many other states and countries may not currently have recycling laws, it’s likely governments will adopt these practices in the future. While technology has cut down on a lot of waste from paper and other materials, hotels still produce plenty of waste that can be recycled.
Tip #3: Train your team
Your employees are crucial to the success of any green initiatives at your property. You can place recycle bins in each room and start a towel reuse program, but unless your staff follows through with these initiatives, they won’t work. Train your employees to follow green initiatives and create an environmentally conscious culture. On top of simple tasks like recycling, Global Stewards suggests you educate your staff on the following:
- Turn off lights in unoccupied areas
- Open and close windows and blinds as needed
- Check for leaky faucets, toilets, and showers
- Turn on and off hotel equipment as necessary (i.e. large fans, heaters, etc.)
- Keep an eye out for wasteful practices and offer potential solutions
With your employees on board, you’ll be able to make a real impact on your property’s carbon footprint. You’ll also reduce energy costs and materials costs with the proper training.
Tip #4: Buy recycled items and green products
Going green can be as simple as buying different products. You can purchase recycled or partially recycled linens, towels, toilet paper, paper towels, stationery, and other paper products as opposed to 100% new products. If recycled goods are too expensive in comparison to new products, you can focus on making sure that the paper was sustainably sourced.
There is an endless assortment of green cleaning supplies you can use to create a more sustainable operation. With a little bit of research, you can quickly find out the best and cheapest way to source environmentally-friendly products. Because the sustainable movement has gained traction, there are suppliers who would be more than happy to help you find the best solution. A quick Google search for “green office supplies” produces thousands of results.
Tip #5: Reduce water consumption
Your guests’ water consumption is largely influenced by your property’s infrastructure. Wasteful showers, toilets, and sinks could make wasteful practices even more impactful. Consider swapping out old, wasteful systems in exchange for new, more sustainable ones. While replacing anything major at your property is expensive, it can help reduce utilities. If you’re located in the United States, there are several different tax benefits to going green, which you can read about here.
Depending on where you live, cities and states also have rebates for replacing specific apparatus, whether it be toilets, shower heads, or faucets. Check with your local state, city, and national offices to determine if there are rebates available.
Tip #6: Get green certified
One way to tackle all of these tips is to obtain a green certification. There are many different green certifications available that are specific to hotels and others that are more general. In a previous post, we made a list of nine different eco-friendly certifications that are great for properties of any type.
Each of them requires you to meet certain criteria to obtain your green certifications. Most of them also require a site visit and an annual fee. If you’re interested in taking your sustainability practices to the next level, we highly suggest checking it out.
There are countless things you can do to make your property sustainable, both big and small. Not only will these tips help your property become more environmentally friendly, but they will also help save you money. Utilities, labor, and operational costs are the largest cost contributors for most hotels, and being sustainable often helps address all three. Tackling energy and general waste is no easy feat, but every little effort is a step in the right direction.