Green on the Go: Hotel Tips
Getting away usually means spending time in a hotel. A hotel stay, even close to home, can feel like a luxurious getaway from the stresses of everyday life. Don't let the fact that hotels typically use enormous amounts of energy and water to keep their guests comfortable: there are ways to use much less of both, and create less waste as well.
The Green Hotel Movement
Most major hotel chains, and many smaller ones, are taking steps to lighten their environmental impact. An average-sized hotel with 100 rooms can see monthly electricity bills top $25,000. It's obviously a benefit to hotels to do everything possible to reduce this energy use. Lower power bills equal less energy-related pollution being generated.
Some of the more visible steps taken by hotels to reduce energy usage are: installing compact fluorescent lighting in rooms and hallways; installing low-flow toilets and showerheads; the use of recycled paper products and reusable toiletries (like shampoo) to reduce single-use plastic container waste. These, and many other 'behind the scenes' energy saving programs are dramatically lowering energy usage in hotels.
Be a Responsible Hotel Guest
Hotels should obviously be encouraged to continue their efforts in energy reduction, but what can you as a hotel guest do to help? The most important thing to do is to live in your hotel room like you do at home: efficiently. Studies have shown that the majority of frequent guests in hotels let their normal 'green routines' slip at least a little when on the road.
Some of the eco 'no-nos' that hotel guests confess to are leaving lights on when out of their room, taking excessively long and/or hot showers, and opening a new shampoo bottle with every shower. When we figure that the energy used in a hotel room comes as part of the cost of the room, we tend to use more. But a hotel stay can be just as relaxing and luxurious as it's always been, while taking some simple steps to make the stay more eco-friendly.
- Towel/Linen Usage: Hotels was lots of towels, and lots of bed linens. Obviously, great care must be taken to keep towels and linens clean and safe for their guests. If you're staying longer than one night in a hotel, you can reduce the amount of water and energy your room uses by using towels more than once, and by refusing daily bed linen changes. You don't change your bedsheets every day (we're assuming), so why do it in a hotel?
- Lower Energy Use When You're Out: When you step out of your hotel, don't leave the lights and TV on! A huge amount of a hotel's overall energy usage is powering lights, TVs, and other electrical devices in empty rooms. Again, you turn things off at home when you're gone, do the same in the hotel.
- Avoid Single-Use Cups & Toiletries: Most hotels offer single-use shampoos and conditioners. These create lots of plastic waste: bring your own reusable/refillable travel toiletries. The same goes for drinking cups. Bring your own reusable drinking bottles or, if the hotel supplies them, washable glasses.
Do Research When Booking a Hotel
The greenest way to stay in a hotel is to combine your own personal green habits with a hotel that is going above and beyond to lighten their environmental impacts with green practices (using recycled and reusable materials, installing energy-efficient lighting/appliances/laundry, etc.)
If you stay in a hotel that is making a point of bringing their environmental practices to your attention, thank the management for their efforts. Letting them know that their environmental policies are a reason for your stay will motivate them to continue pursuing eco-friendly practices.
When looking at hotels, there are groups and associations that can help you locate the greenest options. Some of these are:
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