Sustainability is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, especially among the travel and tourism industry. In recent years, the fear of over tourism has caused travelers and industry leaders alike to be more conscientious about the carbon footprint they’re leaving behind. As a result, hotels are making greater strides to go green(er) than in the past. Not only do they want to do their part in protecting the planet, they also want to be on the cutting-edge of what today’s travelers seek out when booking a hotel.
A recent National Geographic survey revealed 42% of U.S. travelers were willing to prioritize sustainable travel in the future.1 As a result, leaders in the hotel industry are making it easier to filter out hotels based on their sustainability efforts. For example, TripAdvisor has set up its GreenLeaders Program to showcase sustainable hotel practices to allow conscientious travelers to research accordingly.2
Hotels that have already made eco-friendly practices part of their regular strategy are ahead of the curve, although those just starting to implement have plenty of opportunities to do so. Here are 10 of the best sustainable hotel ideas leaders can implement into their current operations and culture that will help protect the planet and maintain full capacity.
1. Eliminate Plastic Water Bottles
One of the easiest and best environmentally friendly practices for hotels is eliminating plastic water bottles. Most hotels typically offer their guests in-room water bottles for free or for purchase, which is costly to the operations and carbon footprint of the hotel.
With the majority of travelers carrying reusable water bottles and more airports making the switch to recyclable bottled water in their stores, the switch aligns with this new plastic-free way of travel. Adding a FloWater Touchless Water Dispenser at reception, in the gym, and other high-traffic areas of the hotel allows guests to fill up their reusable water bottles for free with unlimited, clean, crisp water.
It’s extra beneficial for hotels that offer extended stays to be equipped with in-room kitchens. Guests can use FloWater for their cooking and drinking needs throughout the duration of their stay. This is a valuable perk versus paying for single-use water bottles and/or resorting to drinking water from the tap. Plus, if more guests knew about what chemicals are in plastic water bottles, they’d probably be more hesitant to reach for one.
2. Set Up Recycling Stations
One of the most commonly seen eco-friendly hotel ideas is recycling. Nearly 50-60% of hotel waste is recyclable, including newspapers, aluminum cans, office paper, and many other items that are part of everyday operations.3
Making stations readily available and convenient for guests and staff supports the habit of separating trash from items that can be recycled. Supply in-room recycling bins and set up stations in high-traffic areas like the lobby, near the pool/gym area, and for kitchen staff.
3. Encourage Guests to Reuse Towels
Water conservation is an important eco-friendly best practice as well. Encouraging guests to reuse towels is a small request that has become one of the best sustainability ideas for hotels. Alerting guests with a note about a hotel’s specific green initiatives will help make guests feel like part of the solution.
By offering the option of either reusing towels or placing ones they want to be replaced on the floor causes guests to rethink how often they require towel replenishments. In the same vein, the request to have rooms serviced every two or three days versus a daily service cuts down on water usage as well. This is particularly helpful when bed sheets don’t need to be replaced on such a regular basis during a hotel guest’s stay.
Research shows a 150-room hotel can conserve approximately 6,000 gallons of water per month on a towel and linen reuse program. That adds up to an impressive 72,000 gallons of water a year, which is an impactful step toward sustainability.4
4. Offer Local Shuttles
Offering local shuttles and alternative modes of transportation, such as free bicycle rentals, is one of the best environmentally friendly practices for hotels. It offers convenience for guests, while also conserving gas for those who may otherwise rent a car or call a rideshare to get to areas close by.
Additionally, providing access to a downloadable neighborhood map gives guests insight into walkable attractions and restaurants, as well as nearby public transportation, all of which help to cut down on gas emissions.
5. Supply Electric Car Charging Stations
As more people begin to use electric or hybrid cars, having access to electric car charging stations is important. It provides convenience to guests which could factor into their choice of hotel. Additionally, hotels can earn credit towards receiving LEED or GreenPoint rated certification by installing EV charging stations.
Furthermore, certain government agencies offer rebates for EV charging stations as a way to incentivize the use of electric cars. Though as the number of stations increases, these rebate programs likely won’t last forever but may cover around 50%-80% of total costs which hotels can currently take advantage of.5
6. Install Eco-Friendly Thermostats
Ease-of-use technology has made it easier for eco-friendly hotel ideas to become consumer best practices. Millions of people are familiar with and have installed smart thermostats in their own homes, which makes adjusting to them in their hotel rooms simple.
By installing eco-friendly thermostats in guestrooms and other areas throughout the hotel, it reduces the amount of unnecessary energy consumption. Guests still have control over the temperature in their room when they’re present. However, many smart systems now have sensor features that detect occupancy in a room. It changes the temperature or run time when guests leave.
Other smart thermostats have remote adjustment capabilities and auto settings that adapt to the current climate, all of which can also improve energy savings. Data shows implementing smart thermostats can help reduce a hotel’s total energy bill by approximately 20%, which is powerful headway into an environmentally friendly establishment and cost-effective by saving tens of thousands of dollars every year.6
7. Update Biodegradable Options
In addition to recycling opportunities, many hotels are switching to using biodegradable materials for their kitchens, offices, and in-room supplies. Everything from restaurant cutlery to paper products used throughout the hotel is being switched over to biodegradable brands that use renewable or recyclable resources to create their products.
The accessibility and affordability of sustainable brands are encouraging hotel operators to consider their options when following environmentally friendly practices within their properties. Finding quality utensils and materials that can be naturally broken down cuts down on waste and leaves behind a smaller carbon footprint.
8. Plant a Rooftop Garden
A rooftop garden makes a beautiful and sustainable addition to a hotel’s property. Regardless of where it’s located, it can serve as a source of fresh herbs and produce for the onsite restaurant. Plus, it adds aesthetic value to eco-conscious travelers. Curating food and drink offerings by using ingredients from a hotel garden makes the experience feel special for the property and intentional for the environment.
9. Reduce Food Waste
As with water conservation, reducing food waste is of huge importance to improving hotel sustainability. Hotels can install separate bins for waste, recycling, and composting, while also partnering with local resources to donate extra food to homeless shelters, food banks, or other communities in need. Additionally, seasonal and accurate inventory helps to manage the amount of food and ingredients needed to support different levels of service throughout the year.
10. Source Local
Sourcing local is a great way to support the community and highlight city and/or state tourism and attract a wider audience. When people travel, they like to explore offerings they may not have access to or be able to experience at home. Also, sourcing from local vendors cuts down on the transportation costs and packaging materials needed, which can have a huge impact on reducing overall gas emissions and plastic waste.
Supporting a Sustainable Future in Hospitality
These are a few of the best sustainable hotel ideas to get the ball rolling on implementing eco-friendly practices for your own operations. By first assessing areas where you can start small and continue to grow, it can make the switch to more eco-friendly operations easier and more accessible. What may start as a novel amenity may soon become part of the fabric of your hotel.
With travelers today making thoughtful choices based on a company’s values in addition to cost and convenience, it’s important for industry leaders to make sure they’re aligned with what guests want. The first initiative hotels can take is implementing clean hotel water dispensers for their guests, as well as staff. Starting with a sustainable solution like FloWater can be the first step in a full environmentally friendly plan. Since the Refill Stations are designed to transform tap water into delicious, purified water, installation and maintenance is especially easy. Plus, your guests won’t have to ask, “Is hotel tap water safe to drink?” because they will have access to clean water around the clock.
Furthermore, this sustainable design provides a convenience to guests they’ll appreciate and eventually come to expect. The touchless, rapid-fill dispensing process makes it appealing for people on the go who want to stay hydrated. It also adds a competitive advantage as well as instantly reduces the amount of plastic use needed for a hotel to operate. For the sake of sustainability and exceeding guest expectations, FloWater fits every need.
- Cvent. Sustainable Hotel Ideas: 25 Ways to Go Green. https://www.cvent.com/en/blog/hospitality/eco-friendly-hotel-ideas
- National Geographic. For travelers, sustainability is a word-but there are many definitions of it. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/what-sustainable-tourism-means
- Wastecare Corporation. Waste Recycling Considerations and Equipment for Hotels, Resorts & Motels. https://www.wastecare.com/Waste-Recycling-Equipment-Applications/Hotels-Waste-Recycling.htm
- Stanford Magazine. Reusing Hotel Towels: Nitty-gritty. https://stanfordmag.org/contents/reusing-hotel-towels-nitty-gritty
- CleanTechnica. Isn’t It Time For All Hotels To Start Including Electric Vehicle Charging Stations? https://cleantechnica.com/2021/07/23/isnt-it-time-for-all-hotels-to-start-including-electric-vehicle-charging-stations/
- Great Lakes Supply. Energy Management Thermostats for Hotels. https://glsco.com/2017/03/06/energy-management-thermostats-for-hotels/
- Aware Impact. 30 Practical Ways to Make a Hotel More Eco-Friendly. http://www.globalstewards.org/green-hotel.htm