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4 Ways to Make Your Hotel Greener

Travelers are looking for sustainable places to stay, so here’s how you can win their business.

From energy efficiency to sustainable furnishings, there are many ways (big and small) to make your hotel more sustainable.

“Sustainable hotels are businesses that significantly reduce their environmental impact through green best-practices in maintenance, services, logistics, products, and supplies,” travel solutions company CVENT states. “The core elements revolve around reducing waste, saving energy, and cutting down on water usage.”

Here are four ways to make your hotel more sustainable and to attract guests who prefer to spend their money with eco-friendly businesses:

1. Cut down on plastic

One of the ways hotels traditionally pile up plastic waste: the use of single use plastic water bottles. You can easily cut down on the amount of plastic waste your hotel generates by offering a way for guests to refill their reusable water bottles with filtered drinking water, CVENT recommends. Many hotels are also phasing out the use of plastic straws, replacing them with bamboo, paper or even natural items like lemongrass, according to EHL Insights. Another idea: swap plastic key cards for access codes or keyless entry systems.

2. Use green products

You can use your hotel’s purchasing power to buy green cleaning products, energy-efficient light bulbs, organic or natural personal care products for guest rooms and even locally grown and organic food for your restaurant and breakfast bar. Speaking of your food service: ditch products packaged in plastic, such as individual yogurt, creamers or cream cheese, in favor of more sustainable options. Note: avoid “faux green” products, CVENT warns: “When making purchases of things like sustainable room soaps, cleaning products, and organic foods be sure to research the provider’s reputation to make sure they are legit and not just using self-declared ‘certified’ or ‘100-percent organic’ without proof.”

3. Reduce hotel food waste

Food waste is a big problem in households and businesses, and food that gets tossed in the trash can harm the environment. “Food that ends up in landfill … is actually worse than other types of waste as it rots and produces leachate and methane, worse than CO2 in the short term,” hospitality solutions company Operto states.

You can combat food waste in a number of ways. Consider serving smaller portions or offering half portions or small plates on your restaurant menu so guests can choose the portion size that fits their appetite. Use a high-tech food management system to help you track your needs, purchase food and use it with minimal waste. Finally, consider donating edible food and composting food waste properly.

For example: JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa implemented a “circular economy food system” that includes a worm farm with 80,000 worms that help to process food scraps from the hotel, which uses the compost to grow greens and herbs for a “farm-to-table culinary experience for guests.”

4. Save water and energy

An average hotel can use nearly 400 gallons of water per room per day, according to the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance. The good news is there are many ways hotels can save substantial amounts of water and energy without sacrificing great guest service. For example, hotels can save water by: using water-efficient appliances, and installing water-saving faucets, showers and toilets. Hotels can save energy by using energy-efficient appliances and “smart” HVAC systems and thermostats with occupancy sensors.

Hoteliers can take small steps to become more eco-friendly while being careful to avoid making exaggerated claims or “greenwashing” their efforts. Even small steps toward sustainability help, and are sure to be noticed by eco-conscious guests.