How can the hospitality industry be more sustainable?
Sustainability is a topic that is very important to me. My dream is for future generations to have the same, if not better, opportunities and experiences than I would have had. This dream can only be reached if every individual, and more importantly, every industry does their part when it comes to long term sustainability. The hospitality industry, in particular, is one of these industries that has the ability to impact sustainability in some of the most positive ways. Any contribution to sustainability has a huge impact in the long-term. According to Travel Agent Central, 87% of global travellers want to travel sustainably, which means staying at eco-friendly accommodation (Newsdesk, 2018).
Water usage is a huge factor in running any business especially a hotel, there can be more water wastage than usage if employees and guests are not careful. Implementing water champions or low-pressure taps will help reduce the water wastage and not only save cost but help in furthering sustainable practices. Jack Harich explains how a sustainable world is one in which the three pillars of sustainability; social, environmental, and economic, are unified. Weakness in any one pillar causes weakness in the others and can determine the overall sustainability of the system. For me, sustainability is ensuring that future generations experience the same luxury and resources as the present generation. For this to be attainable, there should be ways in which we can use less water, electricity, and other natural resources within our industry. Ultimately, the end goal of sustainability is ensuring that both present and future generations have the same available resources.
Figure 1: (Thwink, 2014)
While I feel sustainability is necessary for all industries, I find myself passionate about fixing the sustainability practices in hospitality, especially as the luxury sector tends to utilise resources at the expense of sustainability.
However, there are many ways in which the hospitality industry can be sustainable and can still achieve that element of luxury. Sustainability policies and measurements should be discussed and implemented as we, the present generation, have little time in which we can make a difference. Sustainable policies are rules and guidelines in which hotels follow to ensure they are being sustainable, while sustainable measurements do the actual testing to ensure these policies are making a difference. Many of the areas that need to be examined, with regards to becoming more sustainable, ranging from our everyday operations of the hotel to corporate decision-making. For example, we can look at the usage of common utilities (water and electricity) through to how, where and why we buy our produce for the hotel. There are many ways in which sustainability can be achieved – from the simple act of only washing towels every second to the third day, through to investing in the installation of sustainability tools such as JoJo tanks for rainwater collection and using the greywater from the showers for the garden.
Places such as our student hotel, MyPond Hotel, have taken steps towards ensuring they mitigate their footprint on this earth by simply placing a sign in the bathroom stating that if the towel is on the floor, it will be washed but if it is hung up, it then it won’t be washed. This initiative helps to make guests more aware of their water usage and helps reduces wastage as towels will only be washed when needed.
Sustainability is important to guests when choosing accommodation, the most noticed act of sustainability is water sustainability. There are many ways to implement sustainable policies and practices in the hospitality industry. As said before implementing a water champion, who watches the water usage in each department and reports on it, will help improve water usage and prevent water wastage. Implementing water and energy-saving incentives for employees whereby employees will be financially rewarded if there are decreases in the usage of water and electricity will also result in buy-in from staff. According to the Water Footprint Calculator, energy-saving dishwashers use around 17 litres of water while hand washing dishes use 75.7 litres of water (GRACE Foundation, 2017). Installing low flow feature taps and low-pressure taps, instead of conventional taps will save 13.2 litres of water per minute (GRACE Foundation, 2017). Recycling and reusing help reduce the water footprint as well as buying locally sourced goods.
Therefore, it is not only good for the planet to operate sustainably, but it also invites and creates more customers who are looking for eco-friendly restaurants and accommodation. This results in a win-win situation.
Michelle Gray | LinkedIn