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30 practical ways to make your hotel more eco-friendly

If you run an accommodation business, be it a hotel, guesthouse, resort or other types of facilities, making your business more sustainable is a good choice. Nowadays many people are consciously trying to make eco-friendly choices when it comes to their hotel stay. These days, it’s crucial for your hotel to adopt more eco-friendly practices so your business can stay competitive, attract more travelers, save money, and do its part to protect the planet.

Here are some tips and suggestions to make your hotel business greener and more sustainable.

Green Housekeeping

1. Stop changing towels and bed linens every day for the same guest.

There’s absolutely no need to be changing them daily. No one changes them that frequently back home, therefore there’s no real need to do it in the hotels.

Many hotels around the world change the towels and bed linens once every 3 days or upon request of a guest. If you do laundry less frequently, you save water, energy, use less detergent, and obviously spend less money. Some hotels change towels and bed linen on request.

Photo by Man Pan on Unsplash

Leave clear instructions to your guests on what they should do if they want to get clean towels. For example:

  • Ask your guests to hang towels up on the towel rack if they’re going to use them again, and leave them on the floor or in a special basket if they want them to be washed.

  • Ask your guests to put a sign that says “Put this on your bed if you want to have the sheets changed”.

Don’t overstock the rooms with towels. In most cases, guests will not use all of them, however, the hotel staff will have to change them when preparing a room for new customers. You can leave a note asking guests to request more towels if they need them. Or have the spare towels in the top of the wardrobe, so if they’re still there folded the same, they stay.

2. Install built-in refillable shampoo and soap dispensers in a bathroom.

Instead of providing little individual shampoos every day, you can have a refillable dispenser for shampoo, conditioner and other complimentary things.

You can get pretty reusable glass bottles, which will also help your bathrooms look more luxury. Just make sure that refillable dispensers are fixed, so no one takes them.

This change will not only reduce plastic waste, but it will also help to cut the costs down!

Many people often take the little shampoo/conditioner bottles with them even if they’re not used. Also buying products like shampoo/soap/conditioner in bulk will greatly reduce costs in comparison to buying single-use products.

Alternatively, you can stop stocking up the rooms with small bottles and instead just put a little sign saying to call down if guests need anything. Many people travel with their own shower essentials, but they still use or take the complimentary bottles just because they are there.

As to the little bars of soap, choose the options wrapped in paper or in a cardboard box. Also instead of throwing away the used soap bars, send everything to the charities that melt and sterilize the leftover soap and give it to those in need.

3. Use more eco-friendly cleaning products.

Purchase natural cleaning products such as Seventh Generation, Ecover and If You Care. If you run a small hotel or a guesthouse, you can also start making your own natural DYI cleaning products.

Equip your cleaning personnel with rags instead of paper towels and reusable (washable) dusters.

4. No paper seat on the toilet.

Do you really need to use it to prove that the toilet was cleaned?

5. Provide fewer amenities in rooms.

Leave a note asking guests to call down for the toiletries (shampoo, toothbrush, shower cap) instead of putting them in the room.

And when you provide toiletries, give the eco-friendly versions. For example, bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one.

It’s also important, to reduce the amount of plastic wrapping. Go for non-wrapped sewing kits/earbuds/cotton makeup remover pads/shower caps in rooms. Have them available at reception and provided upon request.

6. Add recycling and/or compost bins in every room.

Encourage guests to recycle by providing those options in the room.

You can offer 3 types of bins in the room: for landfill, recycling, and for food waste (composting) instead of one bin for everything. Colour code them so it’s easy to figure out. Usually, it’s black, blue and green.

The content from the compost bins can be used for landscaping on your property.

7. Naked trash bins. Stop using plastic liners in trash cans. Look into recycled paper bags, ones that are pretty thin to use as trash can liners. Or better stop using any liners altogether and just wash the trash cans out.

If you can’t refuse the liners yet, then train the housekeeping staff to condense bags of trash rather than just pulling every trash bag out that has a little bit of trash in it.

And absolutely do not throw out trash can liners each day with one item in it, but collect all trash in 1 big bag.

Fix the water situation

8. Real water glasses and ceramic coffee mugs in the room. Honestly, stop using disposable cups. Just think how much waste it generates every day. How much money do you spend on buying disposable Styrofoam or paper cups every month?

Invest in good glasses and ceramic mugs once and keep reusing them forever. You may be worried that this will increase the cleaning time. But it will take a maximum of a couple of minutes to wash the cups, which will not affect the total workload.

As from the perspective of a guest, it’s much nicer to use real glasses. It feels more like home when you can have a cup of tea or coffee from a ceramic mug. Plus it makes the room look more expensive.

One more important point, don’t wrap clean glasses in plastic. It’s absolutely unnecessary. Just train the cleaning personnel to wash the glasses every day.

9. Say no to plastic water bottles. Single-use plastic water bottles are a really big contributor to plastic pollution. If you want to make your hotel more eco-friendly, you should stop providing water in plastic.

What you can do instead:

  • Put glass bottles with water in every room

  • If you have mini-fridges in the rooms, put a jug with fresh water in the fridge.

  • Put a water dispenser in a lobby or even on every floor, so the guests can refill their own water bottle.

Make food experience in your hotel more eco-friendly

10. Cloth napkins. It’s time to stop using paper towels and tissues and replace them with cloth napkins in kitchenettes and in the restaurant. After use just wash them together with the towels and linens.

11. NO straws. This is one of the first things you should do in order to make your hotel more eco-friendly. Stop purchasing single-use straws, especially plastic ones. Paper straws are a better alternative, however, they are still disposable and require a lot of paper to be made. So best to stop using straws completely or switch to reusable metal or bamboo options. In any case, you need to have a few reusable straws for people with disabilities.

12. No single-serve, individually wrapped butter/margarine/ketchup/sauce/mayo/honey/jam at breakfast. Stop providing those little plastic pots.

  • Jam, butter and honey can be placed in a large dish with a lid, ideally, see-through. Provide little bowls for guests to take what they want.

  • Ketchup, mayo and other sauces can be provided in glass bottles. You can keep a set on every table or on a serving table where everyone can take what he wants.

  • Put jugs with fresh milk on the table, instead of offering those tiny creamers packed in plastic.

13. Offer real coffee and a coffee press, loose tea and a tea strainer. The amount of packaging involved in instant tea and coffee is prohibitive! Use reusable glass canisters for new coffee grounds and tea in the rooms instead of single-use sachets.

14. Provide real plates, cups and cutlery. While the use of disposables makes cleaning easier, it’s the only advantage of it.

First of all, real plates and silverware at breakfast, make it feel homier. Plus, subconsciously, when people see disposable plates they think of poor-quality take away food, which may spoil their whole experience.

And of course, you save money when you stop buying plates and cutleries every month.

15. Eco-friendly take-away. For the environment, it’s best not to do takeaways at all.

For example, in the restaurant, you can have a sign saying something along the lines:

We choose to support the environment and do not provide single-use take away products. Please sit and enjoy your coffee here.

This move will clearly state that you care about the environment and will make your branded identity stronger.

If a takeaway has to be available, then go for paper cups for coffee and biodegradable food containers made of yam or corn starch.

Small but important changes

16. Get rid of disposable slippers. Same as with the complimentary toiletries in small bottles, in many cases, people used them not because they need them but because they are there.

Get rid of the bathrobe as well, and offer it upon request. This will help to reduce the frequency of washings.

17. Provide a reusable bag for laundry. Return the bag to the room, once the laundry is done. No more plastic bags.

18. Make changes in the mini-bar. Lots of snacks wrapped in plastic can be switched out with fancier treats on a plate or more zero waste-friendly options.

19. Do you offer dry cleaning? If so, instead of returning each piece of clothing hung in plastic, you can either fold all in a pretty basket or cluster all clothes into one plastic cover instead of each one having its own.

20. Reusable shopping bag available in a room to borrow. This doesn’t affect the sustainability of your hotel directly. But it helps your guests to make their shopping a bit greener.

21. Reuse key cards. Collect the key cards and reuse them. Have an easy drop jar or slot by the exit of the hotel door to drop them into.

22. Email invoices. Send a bill to an email address instead of automatically printing it. Or at least give such an option to your guests and let them decide.

Advanced changes for a green hotel

23. Switch to eco-friendly fluorescent lights to reduce electricity use. Change all the lights in the hotel to energy-saving bulbs. They have the lowest carbon footprint, as they last 5-20 times longer than conventional bulbs.

24. Keep the heating and air-conditioning turned off when the rooms are unoccupied! Very often hotel personal keep AC and heating on in all rooms, even when there are no guests. And then it’s either freezing or boiling hot in the room when the guests arrive. Imagine how much energy is wasted. Educate your staff to turn off the lights and heating/air conditioning when the rooms are unoccupied.

25. Put water savers on all taps and showers. This will help to reduce water consumption. You can find special showerheads that use less water but still maintain pressure. The guests will not notice a difference.

26. Install the system that turns off the light in the room automatically. Many hotels use the keycard system as a way to reduce electricity usage. When a guest enters the room he needs to insert the card into a special slot on the wall for the light to be activated. When the guest leaves the room he takes the key out and the lights turn off. This automatically shuts off TV, lights, and appliances.

27. Conduct an audit of your hotel. There are special organizations that conduct waste/energy/cost audit and give recommendations for improvement. The advantage is that they give recommendations specific to your region, taking into account local regulations and available resources.

Some other things to add

28. Give coupons for skipping housekeeping. People love getting discounts and freebies. Offer your guests a coupon for free breakfast or purchase at your coffee shop if they skip a day of housekeeping in the room.

What some people say about such an initiative in the hotels:

A real winner for me was a $5 voucher for the bar/coffee shop each day I skipped housekeeping. Needless to say each day I visited bar/coffeeshop and spent much more than $5. Win-win.

29. Motivate your guests to use green transportation options. Provide walking maps, information about public transportation or rent out bicycles to your guests. Motivate your guests to explore the area in a more ecological way instead of getting taxis everywhere.

30. Sign about a green policy of the hotel. Make sure to place signs in the rooms and/or in the lobby explaining why the hotel chooses to do something different to help the planet. Guests will feel good about the hotel and about themselves for staying in such a place.

Also, still many people don’t know anything about eco-living. They may learn something new when reading your signs, and it may get them thinking about changing their own habits and lifestyle.

Once you made your hotel operations eco-friendly, it’s time to look outside! Making your outdoor area green and eco-friendly is equally important.


Source NBC News

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