Do you love to serve and make someone’s day brighter? Help them see the world while experiencing the highest level of comfort? Then you’re well suited for the hospitality industry. It's one of the biggest Industries in the world, with a revenue of over $198 billion. Lots of money isn’t it? People constantly traveling and staying in hotels would do that.

But what about the annual waste revenue of the hospitality industry? After all, people traveling tend to litter and we use resources more when we feel like they aren’t items that don’t cost us more by overusing them since we aren’t paying for them. Not my circus, not my monkeys right? Aka the problem with complimentary items.

Long story short, the hospitality industry produces a lot of waste. 289,700 tonnes approximately. It’s not great for our planet. And that means it’s not great for the people living on our planet.

So how do we treat this problem? While many might say that it’s not simple to provide a great and hygienic travel experience that’s financially viable while being low-waste, we do have a few suggestions. And guess what? Hotels in Sri Lanka have already successfully implemented these as proven by the experiences of climate influencer Sonika Bashin.

So what are our suggestions for hotels looking to cut out waste, specifically plastic waste, this plastic-free July? Let’s get right into it.

1. Replace plastic garbage bags with eco-friendly options

Garbage bags are a must-have for hotels and homes. While it is a given that eco-conscious hotels will have separate bins for wet, dry, and recyclable waste as well as compost bins, the plastic bags in the dustbins can easily be replaced with biodegradable options such as paper bags or recycled plastic bags. It is however important to ensure that the paper bags are made from sustainably sourced paper and aren’t lined with plastic or else they might cause equal, if not more harm, than plastic bags.

 2. Provide bamboo toothbrushes and toiletries

Apart from garbage bags, you know what hotels provide us with that uses a lot of plastic? Toilet supplies. From soaps to toothbrushes, these days everything is made of plastic. And the worst part is that it doesn’t need to be. After all, we don’t expect hotel supplies to last forever. They’re for the use of guests who stay a few days. Why use a material like plastic then?

From paper-wrapped soap bars to liquid soaps in glass dispensers, they’re a lot of disposable and nondisposable options that hotels can provide us with. On a recent trip to Bangalore, I stayed in ITC which has been awarded for its sustainable efforts. You know what was a small thing that left a big impression on me? The hotel provided us with bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic ones. If we compost them after use, these could reduce some of the plastic waste caused by lawaris toothbrushes as climate activists Trashysisters like to call them.

OBP has another suggestion to offer when it comes to replacing disposals in the hospitality industry. Instead of providing virgin cotton for makeup remover, why not provide reusable cotton rounds that can be washed after guests leave? Since they’re reusable they have a much lower environmental impact than virgin cotton which is a water-intensive crop.

3. Provide jute laundry bags

Hotels provide laundry bags for those guests who want to have their clothes cleaned. It’s part of the experience. You don’t have to lift a finger on vacation and all that. But why provide cotton or worse plastic bags which both have a significant environmental impact when you can provide jute bags? There are biodegradable and can be washed after each use.

4. Teal Bamboo Towels

Hotels live to provide their guests with the feeling of luxury. And bamboo towels which get softened with each wash are a great way to do that in the opinions of the team at OBP. Bamboo cotton towels have a ton of other benefits too. Bamboo fiber is less water-intensive than cotton, making it a more eco-friendly option. It’s also hypoallergenic, antibacterial, and antifungal which are all good qualities to be found in a towel right?

5. Hemp Pulla Footwear

Hemp is a true wonder in environmental terms. It nourishes the soil of grows in and traps CO2. Plus hemp pulla footwear draw from ancient Indian traditions to be therapeutic. They help relax tired feet. Wouldn’t it be great to offer your guests ancient wisdom and rest?

6. Customized copper water bottles

Why use plastic water bottles to greet guests when you can have custom copper water bottles? The benefits of copper water bottles are unknown to none. Plus bottles with cute quotes that are different for each room would be so aesthetic wouldn’t it? Talk about making your guest feel special. Or you can use the bottles to promote the ideology of your hotel chain with a quick quote.

7. Tea and coffee

Sonika Bashin has spoken about this at length but we will keep it short. Tea bags have a plastic coating. This means you’re eating microplastics every time you dip and make tea. An easy solution to reduce this plastic intake and reduce the plastic waste caused by tea and coffee wrappers is to keep loose tea powder and coffee powder in air-tight containers. Easy, no?

What do you think? Are you working in the hospitality industry? Or do you love to travel? Either way, you probably can give us some insight into our ideas. Throw them at us in the comments. Let’s grow more sustainable together.

July 03, 2023 — Our Better Planet

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