The hotel industry is full of waste, from destroying coral reefs and nature reserves to build golf courses, to huge hotel chains that waste plastic and food, and use non-biodegradable toiletries, often wrapped in plastic. You can always not wash the towels every few days as instructed by most hotels, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
- Use plastic-free shower curtains (made from cotton) and avoid wasteful disposables like plastic shower caps. Choose miniature toiletries that are locally-made, biodegradable and in miniature travel versions (like SOP from Norfolk). See tips for a greener morning shower.
- If you really want to make a difference, then stay at small boutique hotels that use zero waste principles, or alternatively rent a holiday cottage where you have more control over the waste generated by your hotel stay. See how to rethink the package tourist industry.
- Choose zero waste bathroom tissue, made from recycled paper or bamboo, and wrapped in paper packaging. There are good brands available on subscription, which work out cheaper and are just as good.
- Most hotels offer miniature soaps. Choose brands that are free from palm oil and beef fat, and wrapped in paper. Quite a few of the eco brands offer miniature versions, for guest and hotel use. Yorkshire’s Friendly Soap offers miniature guest soaps in packs of 24 (avoid essential oils for pregnancy/nursing and medical conditions). This also doubles as a shampoo bar, to save waste and money.
- Switch to biodegradable cleaning and laundry brands, and compostable cleaning cloths.
- Sell or donate furniture that is no longer needed or buy secondhand. And when decorating, choose eco-friendly paints that don’t off-gas.
- Offer tea and coffee in reusable jars, rather than single-use sachets. Always choose tea bags that do not use nylon string (so can be composted after use) and replace single-use milk sachets and sugar with real products in jars and cups. Offer a few biscuits in a glass jar from a packet, rather than single-use in plastic sachets.
- If you offer guest slippers, choose biodegradable jute ones that compost after use, and remove plastic sachets. Choose organic cotton towels and sheets, and see if you could launder them yourself for small hotels, which eliminates the need for plastic wrap on delivery.
- Choose biodegradable bin liners, for each guest stay. Replace soaps with refillable dispensers. Use real napkins and food wraps if making sandwiches for guests out on walks for the day.
- Switch to green energy. If you can’t afford a solar panel, then choose a supplier than generates less waste, and operates a feed-in tariff to help you earn money from energy generated.
- Set up a large-scale compost bin, to reduce food waste. Keep fresh compost away from pets (if you grow your own food/herbs or have visiting dogs, see how to make gardens safe for pets).
- Choose reusable coffee filters and also choose filtered tap water, over bottles. Invest in a blender/juicer to make your own drinks from fresh fruits and vegetables.
Switch suppliers to use plant-based foods and if you serve animal foods, choose local free-range brands, but always offer a good selection of plant-based foods and desserts too. If you offer weddings and catered events, invest in some biodegradable plates and cups, and get rid of single-use plastic straws and cutlery. Avoid feeding vegan meats with visiting dogs, due to toxic ingredients like garlic, onion and mushrooms.