THE NEW PLANET-FRIENDLY PRACTICES

Eco-friendly green cartoon.

Guests are more educated than ever about pollution and sustainability. Being environmentally-friendly has now is now vital in an industry where guests can quickly Google search to see a property’s environmental initiatives. For some guests, the difference between an eco-friendly establishment and an energy-gobbling one could be the key point of difference. It’s not just good enough to just cut out plastic straws anymore, guests want to see and hear about all the intuitive eco-friendly choices accommodation providers are making.

Hotels also have to carefully apply genuine sustainability initiatives, not ones that just benefit the hotel. ‘Greenwashing’, the act of deceptively promoting the perception that an organization’s products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly, is rampant in the hospitality industry. Just recently Marriott hotels in the US were in the spotlight for a greenwashing initiative called Make a Green Choice, which incentivised guests to opt out of housekeeping, which the hotel branded as a sustainable choice. As a result, housekeepers at the Marriott properties were left working on a per-job basis, staying up all night to see if they have work in the morning.

For some guests, the difference between a genuinely eco-friendly establishment and an energy-gobbling one could be the key point of difference. It’s not just good enough to just cut out plastic straws anymore, guests want to see and hear about all the intuitive eco-friendly choices accommodation providers are making.

In saying that, sustainability is not just good for optics and being more planet-friendly, it also helps hotels save money by cutting out waste and unnecessary spending.

At mi-pad Hotel Queenstown, the hotel stripped everything back to its minimalist core to save power.

“In the rooms we don’t have paper, we don’t issue plastic, and we don’t have a minibar,” said Stephen Borcoskie of mi-pad Hotels.

The hotel estimates that by cutting out small amenity bottles, individually wrapped sachets, it reduces room waste by up to 75 percent.

Motion sensors detect when guests enter and leave rooms, turning lighting and heating in the hotel automatically on and off to cut out of wasted power. The hotel also cuts down on energy use by not operating a restaurant, one of the accommodation industry’s biggest energy users.

Camp Glenorchy near Queenstown takes it a step even further, as the property has a Zero Energy certification, meaning the site generate more energy than it needs with renewable sources. There are 585 solar photovoltaic panels subtly installed on-site, generating more energy the camp needs – enough energy to power 25 New Zealand homes.

“We’ve tried to create an experience at Camp Glenorchy that integrates the latest technology, while also delivering a warm, friendly experience to our guests,” said Debbi Brainerd, co-founder, Camp Glenorchy.

“Recycled and reclaimed materials with amazing textures and history were given preference over new ones, including material from old woolsheds from throughout the South Island and demolished buildings that fell in the Christchurch earthquakes.”

The site also collects rainwater as its main source water, with 60,000 litres stored underground for future use. On top of that, 300,000 litres of water are saved every year thanks to composting toilets instead of flushing toilets.

While campgrounds do have some opportunities to be more sustainable that wouldn’t be available in a huge city centre hotel operation, there are plenty of ways for big hotels to also cut down on their waste.
Sustainability initiatives aren’t only found in small and off-beat operations. At Cordis Auckland, for instance, the hotel has partnered with a local artisanal candle maker to recycle champagne bottles and repurpose them into candle holders and gifts.

For the last few months, Cordis Auckland’s staff have collected empty champagne bottles from the hotel’s restaurant and dining outlets, putting them aside to be sent to Auckland-based artisan candle makers, The Bubbly Project.

The team then carefully cut the bottles in half, with the labels intact, and then fill them with scented wax and wicks, converting the cut bottles into champagne candles.

“It’s lovely time of the year to give back to the community with a heartfelt initiative like this one. Cordis means ‘heart’ in Latin, and we have always looked for opportunities through our Connect programme to encourage our colleagues to participate in local initiatives that contribute to the wider community,” said Kimberly Ford, human resources director, Cordis Auckland.

Another growingly popular initiative is repurposing used soap. Scenic Hotel Group, Cordis Auckland, The George Christchurch, Novotel Auckland Airport and many other hotels and motels across the country work with companies like Beyond Skin Deep NZ and Soap Aid to collect discarded soaps to be repurposed for those in communities of need.

These simple, but meaningful initiatives help hotels cut down on waste, find a new life for used products while also saving money and promoting a green image.