Travelers often look for different things when choosing hotels. However, Forbes reports that a recent survey reveals that two out of three travelers want to stay in green hotels. Another interesting reveal from this survey is that travelers feel hotels need to do a better job of letting them know about their environmentally friendly practices.
Seeing Green when Booking Hotels
Since hotels seem to be a bit bashful when it comes to boasting about their green credentials, the responsibility shifts to your shoulders to learn what to look for if going green while traveling is a big concern for you. Granted, some green practices hotels adopt are more visible than others. Keep reading to learn a few tell-tale indicators of a greener hotel stay.
Many hotels are on board with various water conservation efforts because they not only leave a smaller carbon footprint and build goodwill with eco-conscious consumers, but it also saves them money in water and sewer bills each year. There are various methods hotels adopt to encourage the conservation of water, including many of those listed below:
- Serve water in restaurants upon request only.
- Requests that guests reuse towels in order to conserve water.
- Requests that guests do not change linens daily during their stay.
- Installing low flow toilets and showerheads.
- Using rainwater catchment systems to water gardens and plants onsite.
- Reusing grey water for gardens and landscaping.
According to Scientific American, an 150-room hotel can trim water use by 72,000 gallons each year by simply placing cards in hotel rooms asking guests to help conserve water by reusing towels.
Acquiring Sustainable Energy Sources
While hotels are large buildings and can rarely rely solely upon alternative energy sources to power the buildings, many hotels, particularly those interested in greener initiatives, are using some form of sustainable power in the form of wind, solar, or water.
This helps to keep energy costs lower throughout the year, reduces dependence on fossil fuels, and makes guests rest confident that they are going the extra mile to ensure a greener night’s sleep when away from home.
Using Biodiesel in Shuttle Buses
Shuttle buses can pack on a lot of miles in the course of an average day. Buses that burn fossil fuels pollute the planet in many ways, leaving significant carbon footprints in the refining process alone, then contributing to pollution and smog in larger cities through carbon emissions.
California’s Drive Clean website reports that switching to biodiesel does not require hotels to make significant modifications to their engines, making it an attractive and relatively easy option for hotels to implement.
Observing Green Building Practices
Sustainable building practices that utilize non-toxic building materials can greatly reduce the overall carbon footprint of hotels for years to come. These efforts are not limited to the lumber used in construction, though. It extends to the carpets installed in each room, the paints used on the walls, and even the furniture and cabinetry installed throughout the hotel.
Some of the items used in hotels that are decidedly green include:
- Recycled glass countertops in bathrooms and kitchens.
- Energy efficient LED lightbulbs.
- Non-toxic paints.
- Lumber products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
- Green flooring choices like bamboo and carpets made with natural fibers and no chemicals.
Greener building practices seek to eliminate volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which lead to poor air quality and can cause health problems among hotel guests and staff members.
Providing Latex Mattresses
In addition to providing ample support and comfort for a great night’s sleep, natural latex mattresses are also great for the planet. Natural latex is made of botanical latex created from rubber tree sap. The mattresses themselves are hypoallergenic and resistant to microbes, fungi, and dust mites.
The real kicker for many advocates of green philosophies like reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle is the fact that 100 percent natural latex mattresses are also 100 percent recyclable. Even better is that they have a lifespan that can exceed 30 years. When compared to traditional mattresses which should be replaced every seven years, we’re talking about a huge reduction of waste among hotels that use natural latex mattresses.
Recycling and Using Recycled Products
Hotels that print on recycled paper and that offer recycling for cans, plastic, and paper products on site are also appealing to consumers interested in safeguarding the planet. Another interesting way to recycle that many hotels are adopting is by composting things like coffee grounds into vegetable or flower gardens on the hotel property. Some hotels are even using vegetables grown onsite to supplement the nutritional offerings in their restaurants and to donate to local food pantries.
Also consider hotels that use recycled building materials. From recycled plastics designed to look and function like wood to recycled glass countertops in kitchens and bathrooms, hotels have many opportunities to bring recycled products into guest rooms, as well as the building and design of the hotel itself.
Green cleaning products are better for the planet and better for hotel guests who may have asthma, allergies, or sensitivity to strong chemical odors. If you’re concerned about the types of products the hotel uses to clean with, you can always ask and if a hotel you’re interested in doesn’t currently use green products for cleaning, it’s always wise to let them know the reasons why you believe they should.
They are businesses after all, and if they know they are losing business over something as simple as using the wrong types of cleaning products – especially when there are so many cost-effective and powerful green cleaning products on the market today – then they are likely to consider making changes. The more people who offer this practical and planet-friendly suggestion, the more likely a hotel is to make the switch.
Offering Green Education to Guests
From pamphlets and brochures to guests programming designed to educate about the environment like Jean Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program offered to guests of the Kapalua, Hawaii Ritz-Carlton, hotels are taking a stewardship role as ambassadors for the planet that’s not only appealing to children, but adult guests as well.
Finally, look for hotels that have Green Hotels Association memberships. This membership, while not a certification, implies that hotels are interested in taking action for the good of the planet. The association offers a wide range of ideas and opportunities for hotels to adopt greener practices for the good of their guests, their bottom lines, and the planet.
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