Is it possible to create a more sustainable hotel industry?

For many years now travelling as become a more accessible hobby to many people and millions of people travel across the world to meet their dream destinations. Whether they stay at smaller hotels or big resorts, the impact this industry has can be enormous on our environment and also on local economies!

Most of us choose hotels for our vacations due to their confortable options and, many times, due to their more luxurious offers. Normally what brings us more luxury and comfort in the hotels is also what brings a bigger ecological impact. We are talking about amenities, bottles, endless cleanings on our rooms that might not even be needed, and so on.

So is there a way to change and still have a comfortable vacation? For sure there is and the big hotel chains are already proving it is possible! During this post we will see how this industry can have such a big impact and how many hotels are already changing towards a more sustainable business.


hotels and their war on plastic

There are many ways to change a hotel impact and many times they start with small steps, that might seem small in our eyes, but can be big on our world scheme. For example an average 200 rooms hotel spends 200 000 bottles of water per month! If they stop using plastic bottled water they are saving more than 2 million bottles per year, every year! Can you imagine the impact that might have? And we are just talking about one single item!

If you follow me on Instagram you already saw some data on how much a hotel wastes in plastic and the numbers are huge and horrifying! Most of the hotels plastic waste comes from something people love: amenities! If people used to love to take the little bottles of shampoo back home, maybe that’s something that will end. On August 2019 the Marriott hotels made the commitment to start using bigger containers of these products that can be refilled and, with this measure, they hope to decrease the plastic use on 500 million bottles, 770 tons of plastic and 30% of their yearly plastic consumption! This numbers will be repeated every year once they start applying this measurement across the globe! This is a great step that I have already seen when staying at Living Asia Resort & Spa where the shampoo and body gel were placed inside ceramic containers and in Pink Coco Bali (I have a full post on this hotel and its sustainability here).

One of the departments that creates more waste in a hotel is the Food & Beverage department and the Hilton hotels, just by changing their straws are already saving 250 million plastic straws/year! Another measurement this hotel chain did was to replace the hotel key cards that are made in plastic and can’t be recycled into digital ones. By eliminating the key cards the company has already saved 40 tons of plastic waste! The digital key cards are an excellent option to avoid plastic and also a safer one regarding hygiene and many hotels started to use them after the Covid-19 pandemic.

One of the most sustainable hotel chains must be the Six Senses (they’re on my blog post on the most sustainable hotels in Portugal if you want to have a look) and they also have pledge a war on plastic: they are planning to become plastic free by 2022 and they already achieved 90% of that goal, they don’t use plastic straws or any plastic containers on their F&B department, they use refillable bottles for their amenities, they reuse their coffee pods and they even use loose teat to have the plastic on tea bags!

the fight is not only the plastic, but much much more

However, there’s much more than plastic waste that should be fought and the Six Senses Hotel Chain found an amazing way to do it, especially at their hotel in Ninh Van Bay in Vietnam where they have their Earth Lab.

This hotel chain has always tried to keep their guests in contact with their sustainability by allowing them to pick fresh vegetables from their vegetable gardens, for example, but in their Earth Lab they took it one step further! Let’s see what they implemented with this lab:

The idea to reduce waste makes it possible for guests to give their oranges peels so essential oils can be made and use in several products

  • There’s a mushroom hut where they grow their own mushrooms
  • There are chicken palaces where guests can pick their eggs for breakfast 
  • Activities for junior guests: the hotel provides activities regarding themes like recycling or composting to their younger guest
  • All guests can participate on the Lab activities
  • They work with local associations to help the local communities. For example they have a group of local women giving painting lessons and also selling their crafts
  • They work with organizations that protect the corals in Vietnam and the Langur monkeys that life on the surrounding of their resort

This Earth Lab is just one example of how hotels have the power to change. In other locations the chain helps to protect marine environments and its animals or it helps maintaining local species and areas.

it's important to change

Once a hotel is built, its owners must realize the impact they can have on their location and on a greater picture on the environment! It’s extremely important for the hotel industry to start switching to a more local and a more community way of working and to revert part of their job to the community, whether it is by hiring local people, using local suppliers or supporting any environmental projects.

The hotel industry has power to change many aspects of the climate changes that we all fight daily and we as guests can give suggestions, improve our travelling habits and share these incredible actions that are already being done, so we can inspire more businesses to become greener!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Follow me on my social media @travellingtothegreen to know more about my travels and how you can travel to the green!