By Megan Wild
In recent history, hotels have been accused of damaging the environment, and sometimes with good reason. The rise of mass tourism and cheap flights in the 1970s prioritized quantity over quality. And many once-pristine beach towns were transformed into polluted concrete jungles almost overnight. However, things are changing fast.
Sustainable eco-tourism is on the rise in many parts of the world, and even large hotel chains are now doing their bit for the environment. It makes sense for them too: Today’s customers care more about their impact on nature than ever before. And many environmentally-friendly policies actually save money for hotel owners. Here are a few ways the hotel industry is catching up when it comes to sustainable environmental practices.
There are many less obvious ways to save water. Hotels can install low-flow toilets that use around six liters per flush and can improve pool maintenance to make sure there are no leaks. Sprinkling lawns in the evening rather than in the middle of the day also reduces water consumption.
It’s also increasingly frowned-upon to use separate plastic shampoo containers for every stay – more hotels are using refillable containers for shampoo and other bathroom necessities. Another creative option to tackle a hotel’s trash problem: The Maho Bay Camp in the U.S. Virgin Islands has a Trash to Treasures recycling program that repurposes some of the hotel’s trash to make beautiful craft items.
Food is another huge part of the waste problem -- in fact, most of the waste in hotels come from food. Luckily, food is one thing that’s easy to reduce or recycle. Food waste can be used as compost and even turned into an energy source, while leftovers are easily donated to local food banks. Even restaurants in hotels are doing their bit by promoting locally-sourced ingredients.
Using solar power and wind energy is a key way to achieve this. Solar is particularly promising, especially when you consider that so many hotels are located in places with large amounts of sunshine. Powering your hotel will be a lot cheaper than paying local electricity rates or even using generators. Dubai is even set to open its first fully-solar-powered hotel!
One important thing to keep in mind, however, is that hotel equipment such as floor scrubbers need regular maintenance. Old and dirty machinery uses up more power than properly-serviced equipment. Improperly serviced equipment also leaves a hotel looking less-than-sparkling clean, which is something that visitors notice instantly. A few good companies out there can ensure that such equipment operates at optimal efficiency, allowing hotels to stay clean and sustainable in the long-term.
Image credit: Pexels
Megan Wild is an advocate of commercial and residential sustainability. She has written for a variety of publications including Engineering, Construction Equipment Guide, and RISMedia. When she's not tracking the latest energy trends, you can find her outside enjoying the great outdoors. Follow her on Twitter @Megan_Wild.