For many people sustainable practices are embedded in their daily activities; we consciously recycle, compost and look for ways to conserve our use of water and energy both at home and at work. Traveling, whether for leisure or business, doesn’t mean we have to leave these green practices at home. By thinking of your hotel room as an extension of your home, it’s easy to make a positive impact no matter where you are. Travel Green!
In the Guest Room
Lighting: If you’re in the room during the day, open to the curtains to take advantage of natural light instead of turning on multiple light sources.
Air conditioning & heating: Make sure the windows/balcony doors are closed if the air/heating system is on. Or alternatively, shut off the air or heat if you prefer to have the windows open.
Towel & Linen Reuse Programs: Many hotels provide guests, either at check-in or via signage in the room, with the option to reuse their towels and linens during their stay rather than having them changed daily. By taking advantage of these programs you help reduce the number of loads of laundry a hotel generates daily which contributes to both water and energy savings.
Recycling: Many hotels now place recycling bins in their guest rooms and meeting rooms. Make full use of it by placing items such as newspapers, paper, plastics, cans and glass in it rather than in the garbage bin. If the hotel does not have a recycling bin in the room, inquire with housekeeping or management about their recycling policies. In some cases hotels that don’t have bins in the rooms still separate the recyclables from the trash in the back-of-house area.
Water Conservation: When brushing your teeth or washing/shaving your face shut the tap off or fill the sink to avoid leaving the water running. Keeping your showers short not only saves water but also saves energy (used to heat the water). A 10-minute shower can use up to 20 gallons/75 litres of water (low flow showerheads will use less).
Leaving the Guest Room
Many newer facilities, and recently renovated ones, have installed automated systems that adjust the lights and/or heating/cooling systems depending on whether the room is occupied or vacant. For those that don’t feature this technology you can contribute in the following manner:
- Turn off all lights and electronics when you leave the room
- Turn the air conditioning/heating down or off and close the windows
- During the hot summer months, close the drapes during the day to help keep the room cool
- Take advantage of the linen/towel reuse program
- Check that sink and tub faucets are tightly shut off to avoid water loss from dripping taps
While away on business or holidays, explore options other than cabs or car rentals for getting around the area.
Local Transit: Consider the option of using the local transit system for getting to and from meetings or exploring the area.
Bike Rentals: A bicycle can be a fun, fit and eco-friendly way to see the local sights.
Shuttle Services: Some hotels offer a shuttle service to help their guests get to and from major points within the city/region.
Carpooling: If you do need to rent a car or take a cab, try carpooling especially if traveling with coworkers.
At the End of Your Stay
Make the effort to provide feedback to the hotel you’re staying with. Feedback cards are generally available in the rooms, from the front desk or through the hotel’s website. Sharing your thoughts and ideas with respect to their sustainable practices will help management gain insight as to which of their initiatives work, what doesn’t and what they may want to consider in their short and long-term planning.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
As a guest in a hotel or meeting venue there are the easy-to-recognize signs of a facility’s effort to initiate sustainability into their operations. Paperless check-outs, the presence of recycling bins, in-room signage, etc. are easy to spot and take advantage of.
But guests aren’t always privy to the activities that take place back-of-house. From purchasing policies, to manual waste sorting, to lighting enhancements, water/waste conservation practices, etc. there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. If you’re not seeing