Green Hotel Amenities on the Rise
By Michelle Millar Assistant Professor Hospitality Management, University of San Francisco | May 13, 2012
As hotels continue to add green services and practices to their operations, hotels guests are taking note. In fact, more than ever, travelers consider themselves environmentally conscious and are seeking hotel products that meet their personal values about protecting the environment. A hotel that provides green services to guests is in line with those same values. Green services may include linen re-use practices, eco-friendly activities, or extensive recycling policies, to name a few. Another growing part of that equation, however, is green amenities in the guest bathroom. Green amenities are now on the top of many hotels' green to-do list.
While guests expect certain amenities in their hotel rooms, more and more of them are also demanding that the amenities are green. Amenities include those little extras that hotels provide, but green amenities are created with a focus on some aspect of protecting the environment, or, at the very least, causing less harm to the environment. Hotels are meeting the demand for green amenities by providing linen and towel reuse policies, which have become the norm for most hotels; recycling bins in the guest room, compact fluorescent or LED lighting, and low-flow water fixtures. Other green services might include food that is purchased locally, or local activities that are geared towards the environment. In addition, what is becoming more prominent in hotel rooms today, are other in-room amenities that are meant to both reduce waste, and minimize the negative impact they may have on the environment.
When traveling, hotel guests like and expect amenities in their rooms, especially those that sit on the bathroom vanity. Travelers have come to expect them even when staying at budget hotels. At the very minimum they expect a bar of soap. At the other extreme, when staying at luxury properties, they expect luxury bathroom amenities, including shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, mouthwash, sewing kits, shower caps, and more. The problem with such amenities, however, is that they can create a lot of waste. More waste not only adds to the ever-growing landfills, but it translates to higher trash removal costs, and also makes it difficult for hotels to meet green standards they may have set for themselves.
Partially used bottles of shampoo, or partially used bars of soap, cannot be redistributed to guests and therefore are thrown away. To help avoid the amount of waste going into the landfill, hotels may choose to donate leftover soaps and shampoos. In some instances, hotels can donate these unused products to companies that will sterilize and distribute them to homeless shelters, or send them to other parts of the world to those that are in need of such amenities. For example, Clean the World accepts partially used bars of soap that they then sterilize and send to communities around the world. They recently shipped over 10,000 pounds of soap to Stop Hunger Now, who will include the soap bars in hygiene packets sent to Kenya and other countries. However, that is only possible if there are resources in a hotel's community that can provide those services. So, the partially used items get thrown away, thus adding to the waste stream. What is a hotel to do?