Climate change, pollution and loss of biodiversity are set to destroy the earth according to the United Nations. Humans may have caused this emergency, but still have the power to reverse it. From individuals to local and national governments, to businesses and corporations; we all need to be embedding environmental sustainability into our decision-making and our actions. Hospitality is no exception. Here are some facts by the United Nations on sustainability.
- Hospitality contributes to one percent of the global carbon emissions. The industry needs to cut its carbon emissions by 66 percent by 2030 so its growth forecast doesn’t lead to a corresponding increase in carbon emissions.
- By 2050 it is expected that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Single-use plastic is a big contributor to this (almost half of the annual plastic production). It must be eliminated.
- Water is fundamental to hotel operations. In some places, guests use more than eight times more water than the local community.
- Nearly one-third of the world’s species are currently threatened with extinction. This is a big problem for hospitality, which relies on the natural world to attract guests. The industry impacts biodiversity both directly (e.g. through land and resource use and pollution) and indirectly (e.g. through generating greenhouse gases, and actions in the supply chain).
Most hoteliers understand the importance of being sustainable. In fact, sustainable or green travel is on trend, and hoteliers who have not responded to the change are already getting left behind. The change is being led by Gen Z and millennial travellers who place great importance on preserving the environment.
Whether you’ve already joined the bandwagon of eco-conscious hotels or looking for ways to get started out on this path, here are some ways you can make a positive impact on the environment:
1) Reduce water consumption.
You will be surprised by the energy savings that come from even simple things such as reducing the shower pressure and installing leak-detecting water systems and laundry (promo reuse of towels and sheets to save water). Some other, slightly more expensive options include installing a rainwater harvesting system.
2) Use sustainable local products.
Food items, toiletries, linens and decor can all be sourced locally for immediate carbon footprint production (reduced transport costs and fuel usage) as well as the ability to highlight and support local businesses, artisans, farmers and producers who utilise eco-friendly and sustainable practices. This isn’t just an eco-friendly move in itself; it’s an effective way of grounding your business in the community, fostering tourist interest in the culture of the area and what it offers, and creating a sustainable local economy that can become a unique attraction in and of itself.
3) Become more energy efficient.
This change won’t happen overnight, but slowly make the move to become energy efficient. Invest in smart appliances, try solar-powered energy (at least in part) and use smart systems like HVAC. One that doesn’t cost anything is friendly messages around the room encouraging guests to save power. There is now a host of digital apps that help you keep on top of your energy consumption. Make technology your friend when it comes to going green.
4) Less plastic.
The problem of plastic cannot be fixed by one organisation. It takes many to make a difference. Join United Nations’ Global Plastic Initiative to start making a difference. Eliminate plastic packaging wherever possible, opt for reusable alternatives to plastic, take action to recycle plastic and invest in its composting. Even keyless entry is a way to reduce the use of plastic cards as keys and helps towards sustainability.
5) Reduce food waste.
Guests, especially at buffets, are renowned to waste food. You can reduce this through simple steps such as making your plates smaller so guests don’t overserve. One reason for guests to do that is because they don’t like to revisit the buffet table multiple times, ending up piling their plates more than intended. Encourage re-serving through table signs and friendly service.
6) Go paperless.
The days of check-ins and check-outs are over. Your website booking engine and property-managed systems can be set up to serve your guests, from booking to check-out electronically. No paper is needed!
7) Participate in carbon-neutral initiatives locally.
Be it planting trees or contributing to another climate cause. Make it your mission that for every booking, you take a green step forward.
Whether you run a rural resort, a city townhouse or an island retreat, every hotel has a vast number of opportunities to reduce its emissions, behave more sustainably and become more eco-friendly. With travellers on the lookout for green hotels, the time to change your approach is now; not just for the planet, but it is also for business.
Blog supplied by STAAH