If you're like me, you love staying in hotels. What's better than getting to leave your wet towels on the bathroom floor; having someone make your bed every day; finding a mint on your pillow; exploring a fridge full of miniature consumables; making coffee in the machine on your nightstand; or getting to use a door hanger that actually tells people not to bother you? Well, it turns out some of those treasured hotel-guest experiences aren't so nice for the environment. In fact, US hotels generate more than 170,000 metric tons of CO2 in a single year, and each guest contributes .01 metric tons of greenhouse gases in just one night. But the emissions aren't the only problem. Each hotel room generates over 30 pounds of waste and uses 218 gallons of water per day.
HOW TO HAVE A MORE PLANET FRIENDLY HOTEL STAY
You can conserve energy, reduce water use, cut CO2 emissions, and use fewer natural resources while still enjoying your hotel stay, however. The following tips and recommendations will show you how.
- According to David Bach, author of Go Green, Live Rich , hotel guests should participate in the linen reuse program, “which encourages guests to reuse towels and linens, [and] saves an average of 11 to 17 percent on hot water and sewer costs at each hotel.”
- Participate in the linen reuse program simply by hanging your towels up after each use.
- Call housekeeping and tell them you won't need their services during your stay to prevent the hotel from wasting water by changing and laundering your sheets and towels, wasting electricity by vacuuming, and exposing you to harsh chemicals by spraying industrial-strength disinfectant over your toothbrush.
- Save water by taking shorter showers and baths.
- Do you really need all the lamps, the empty mini-fridge, the coffee maker, the hair dryer, and all the other standard appliances plugged in during your entire stay? The easiest way to conserve energy in your hotel room is to unplug any and all electric devices when they aren't in use. Vampire Energy really does add up.
- Save even more energy by lowering the room's thermostat by 2 degrees in the winter and raising it by 2 in the summer.
- Remember to close the drapes and shut off the AC/heat before leaving the room each day.
- Bring your own toiletries so you can leave the miniature bottles of shampoo and lotion in the room, unopened.
- Your coffee maker probably comes with Styrofoam cups and you have clear plastic cups in the bathroom. Use a permanent marker to write each guest's name on these reusable items.
- Or, better yet, bring your own reusable cup and/or water bottle from home!
- Pack a few plastic grocery bags to take dirty laundry and leaky toiletry bottles home with you.
- Avoid room service and carryout to reduce food waste.
- If you have children staying with you, remember to pack their nightlight so you won't have to leave the bathroom light on at night.
- If your stay includes complimentary newspapers, give them away after you've read them or leave them in the hotel lobby for other guests to read.
- If your hotel has the option, check out using the electronic program available on your room's TV in order to reduce paper.
- Participate in your hotel's recycling program by placing recyclables in their appropriate bins.
- If your hotel lacks a recycling program (gasp!), take your newspapers, empty cans, water bottles, and various other recyclables home with you to recycle later.
- If allowable, turn off exercise equipment, the gym lights, the sauna, the whirlpool, Jacuzzi, and tennis court lights when you're finished.
- Let hotel management know, either by speaking to them directly or by writing a note, that you want to conserve during your stay.
- Contact Hotels Association at (713) 789-8889 or visit their website for current listings of green hotel members.