Climate change is presenting challenges that affect us all as we try to make more active choices that are better for the planet. Changing the habits acquired over a lifetime is no easy task and often it’s hard to know where to begin.
We all need to start somewhere though, and for those in the hotel industry there are so many opportunities to act as leaders in the green movement taking place across the world. You’ve likely heard the adage that ‘you can’t do everything but everyone can do something’. As a hotelier it’s important to focus on the ‘something’ you can do to reduce your impact on the environment. It may not seem like a lot but together we can bring about real change.
Running a hotel can mean a lot of wastage in many areas with food, water and energy being the main offenders. Let’s take a closer look at the problems and some potential solutions.
It will come as no surprise to any property owner to know that money is trickling out of the seams of their building in the form of lost energy. The first thing to do however, is to figure out the why, where and how this energy is being lost in order to start tackling the problem. There are a few ways you can approach this, either by
- appointing an energy manager to highlight potential areas for improvement.
- engaging with staff to identify problem areas and having regular brainstorming and feedback sessions.
- creating guest awareness and support.
These ‘first steps’ are a possibility for even the smallest businesses to adopt as they are inexpensive and relatively easy to get off the ground. What they will do is provide you with an overview of your individual situation and depending on your budget and circumstances you can choose which improvements to get started with.
Some changes may include some simple adaptations like
- replacing light bulbs to energy efficient ones.
- the use of automatic conserve sockets which power off electricity when a device is not in use or a room is unoccupied.
- the adoption of solar panel technology to reduce energy consumption.
- using a Building Management System to control heating.
‘you can’t do everything but everyone can do something’
A leaking toilet can lose up to 750 litres of water per day and two screw taps can dispense up to 30 litres of water a minute when fully opened. This gives us some idea of the sheer volume of water that can be lost when not monitored.
People tend to shower longer when staying at hotels, keeping the water running when shampooing or brushing their teeth. As you still want to make the stay for your guests pleasurable, the key here is to find a solution that your guest might not even notice.
For example, you could employ the use of flow restrictors for the shower. You can find these in many different ”sizes” which means you can restrict a lot or just a little water. Remember – a little goes a long way if used for every shower!
Another very affordable way to save water is to leave a note next to the sink that will remind your guests to be cautious with the water we have and not to waste it while thanking them for their cooperation.
And while we are talking about changes you can make in the bathroom, here’s another idea for you – eco products!
Natural eco friendly products don’t contain the dangerous chemicals found in their harmful alternatives. Try switching shampoo, conditioner, soap, and toothpaste to eco-friendly ones and wait for the all great feedback you’re guaranteed to get from your guests. Another forward thinking move would be to change from miniature bottles of toiletries to wall mounted, refillable dispensaries. Not only is this far more cost effective, it’s much kinder to the environment.
40% is the figure touted by many agencies as the percentage of food wasted in the hotel industry. So how do you both reduce food wastage and go green while increasing your bottom line? Well why not start by trying these suggestions?
- Have an audit. Work with staff to determine what food is most often thrown out and reduce the amount ordered.
- Repurpose excess food. For example, incorporate leftovers from lunch into the dinner menu. Offer your guests doggy bags. Donate leftovers to charities and save on the costs of removing food from the premises. In many areas these organisations will arrange collection services.
- Many hotels are using their grounds to produce their own food. It’s not an option for everyone but if space and circumstances permit you will not only save on costs, you will attract the kind of guests who are looking for the best experience from both an environmental and a health perspective – organic food!
These changes won’t happen overnight but if you start today it won’t be long before the benefits start to show. You’ll certainly save on costs by incorporating some of these measures but you’ll also have the added satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping our planet, and what can possibly be more important than that?