How hotels are addressing the climate crisis

Sustainability is no longer a 'nice to have,' in this day and age, it's essential. With the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) well underway, it's the perfect time to look at how hotels reduce their carbon footprints. Check out our findings below, along with some great examples of environmentally-friendly hotels in Europe.

Installing energy-saving technology

Did you know that 75% of hotels' environmental impacts are directly related to excessive consumption - including energy? Without a doubt, one of the most effective ways hotels can reduce their environmental impact is with energy-saving appliances, lighting and heating/cooling systems. Some hotels are even going a step further by installing solar panels and smart energy systems. These intelligent systems detect when hotel rooms are empty and switch the lights off or turn the heating off if guests open windows.

Small changes like this can make a huge difference overall.

Saving water

Most hotels now have a water management plan to limit excessive water usage and wastage in their kitchens, guest bedrooms, bathrooms, laundry rooms, gardens and swimming pools. Some ways they can save water include:

  • Using greywater systems that recycle treated wastewater for toilet flushing
  • Installing low flow technology
  • Using low water washing machines
  • Asking guests to reuse their towels if they're not dirty
  • Installing push-button showers by the swimming pool
  • Covering swimming pools to prevent water evaporation
  • Collecting rainwater for watering plants in the garden

Eliminating single-use plastic toiletries

Hotel guests have long enjoyed taking home miniature hotel toiletries. But when you consider the environmental effects of the single-use plastic they're made from, it takes much of that joy away! 91% of all plastic is not recycled, hence why many hotels worldwide are replacing mini shampoo bottles and shower gels with eco-friendly alternatives.

A fantastic example is Marriott. This major hotel chain is phasing out single-use toiletries in favour of larger, refillable bottles. By eliminating 500 million small bottles, Marriott saves the equivalent of 1.7 million pounds of plastic each year.

In addition, many hotels are ditching bottled water and installing water stations for guests to refill their jugs and reusable water bottles instead. It's another effective way to cut down on single-use plastic waste.

Waving goodbye to plastic room key cards

Some hotels have swapped their plastic room key cards to environmentally-friendly alternatives made from recycled PVC and wood fibre. Others are ditching room key cards altogether in favour of mobile key codes integrated with their hotel apps. It's more convenient for guests and is another way to stop plastic from ending up in landfills.

Encouraging hotel guests to be environmentally conscious

While hotels are making an effort to be more eco-friendly, they need to encourage guests to follow suit. You might have seen that some hotels now leave a polite card in each room reminding you to switch off the lights when you go, reuse towels and bed linen and recycle any packaging. Most guests appreciate the effort to help the environment and are happy to play their part as well.

We've also seen hotels attempt to reduce fuel emissions by renting bicycles to guests, giving them a more environmentally-friendly way to explore the local area.

Composting food waste

As you can imagine, hotels produce a lot of food waste from their restaurants (an estimated 79,000 tonnes each year). Instead of throwing it out, an increasing number of hotels are composting. Not only is this a fantastic green initiative, but it can also save hotels money on their gardening efforts. Composted waste makes fantastic organic fertiliser for plants beds and vegetable patches.

Sourcing local products and produce

Localising hotel supply chains reduces transportation, packaging, and food refrigeration required to get products and produce from A to B. It's better for the environment, and it also helps to boost the local economy.

An increasing number of hotels now offer toiletries and complementary products from small, local brands, and many also feature locally sourced produce on their menus. Sourcing locally uses less energy and creates fewer fuel emissions. Plus, guests like the opportunity to eat local produce and try out products from small, local brands. It's a win-win!

How to choose an eco-friendly green hotel

Are you looking to implement small changes to live a greener lifestyle? It's worth considering your choice of hotel on your next trip. Here are a few ways you can check how eco-friendly a hotel is:

  • Look to see if the hotel has gained certification for its eco-friendly design or green practices. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (aka LEED) is one of the best-known certifications in the hotel industry. Hotels can also receive certifications from EarthCheck, Green Key, Green Growth 2050, Forest Stewardship Council, The Rainforest Alliance and Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

  • Read their sustainability report (usually available on a hotel's website.) This report will detail the hotel's efforts to go green including, any eco-friendly design elements, carbon offsetting programmes, energy consumption, linen reuse, recycling, and other measures such as environmentally-friendly cleaning products and limiting single-use plastics.

  • Check the hotel restaurant menu. If a hotel is sourcing local produce for its restaurant menu, it's going to shout about it! Find out if the hotel has an on-site kitchen or follows a farm-to-table approach. See if the produce is sourced locally, ethically and in the case of seafood, sustainably. Another good sign is a hotel menu that features seasonal produce.

3 Environmentally-friend hotels in Europe

Hotels moving towards a more environmentally-friendly way of operating is undoubtedly a positive thing. But we appreciate that to be a truly green hotel takes more than just putting the recycling bins out and asking guests to reuse their towels. Here are three examples of European hotels going above and beyond the rest:

Svart Norway - The world's first energy-positive off-grid hotel that aims to reduce its yearly energy consumption by 85% using solar energy. According to the website, Svart Norway aims to 'inspire discerning travellers to care for the protection of nature, preservation and the importance of the pristine polar region.'

Whitepod Switzerland - If you fancy a sustainable snow holiday, the Whitepod Eco-Luxury Resort in Switzerland will tick all the boxes. This uniquely designed hotel has geodesic domes that require 30% less energy than a traditional building. What's more, there's limited transport, a wood-pellet heating system and water-saving devices on all taps. The hotel also sources food and beverages locally wherever possible.

Heckfield Place, Hampshire, UK - Not just a pretty face, this beautifully designed hotel in Hampshire boasts impressive eco-credentials. From reducing packaging to installing sustainable heating and championing natural materials, there are many ways Heckfield Place ticks environmentally conscious boxes. However, it's the hotel's biodynamic farm that tops it off. Working in harmony with the land and seasons, the team at Heckfield Place produce crops, fruit, herbs and vegetables to serve up on plates in their restaurants. Additionally, the hotels' livestock is used for dairy produce, helping to reduce emissions from transport. It's the perfect example of farm-to-plate dining.

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