Recently I have stayed in various hotels for different reasons; from salsa dancing events to hen weekends, the last few weeks have certainly been busy. And this got me thinking about ways in which I could make some small changes to make my hotel stays more eco friendly and better for the environment.
Here are some of the changes I’ve recently been making when staying in hotels:
1. Make sure all hotel toiletries are used up, or not used at all
In hotel rooms, you’re often supplied with toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and soap. The one I stayed in last weekend (February 2019) included some travel-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner, plus a bar of soap and a shower cap. My friend who I shared the room with, and I used the bar of soap over the course of the weekend. When we came to the end of our hotel stay, we hadn’t used the bar of soap up, so I took it with me to use the rest at home. If I hadn’t have done this, it would only have ended up in landfill. This is such a waste, especially when you consider the amount of guests who may stay in a hotel over the course of a month or even a year, particularly if they’re only staying for one or two nights. Collectively, the waste really can add up.
We didn’t use the small bottles of shampoo and conditioner, and left them unopened for the next guest. Small bottles can add up to a lot of plastic waste. If I had used the shampoo and conditioner, I would have taken any leftovers home, and used up the contents completely. I would then have washed the bottles out, and reused them to put my own shampoo in for my next weekend away.
2. Pack your own towel to take with you
Most of my recent hotel stays have been for just one night. In most of the rooms I’ve stayed in recently, there have been signs around the room reminding guests that they can be more eco friendly by only requesting clean towels when they’re really needed. This got me thinking. Since a towel doesn’t need to be washed every time it is used, I took my own to my last hotel stay. I used it in the bathroom as well as at the pool. All I needed to do was to hang it in the hotel room somewhere to dry after showering, and it was ready to use again the next day while at the pool.
Just by using a towel twice instead of once, we can halve the amount of towels which need to be washed after a hotel stay. This could be much better for the environment if every hotel guest did this.
3. Take teabags home either to compost, or to put in food waste bins
Another thing that is often supplied in hotel rooms is a kettle and teabags. The teabags often (but not always) have a paper wrapping. After having a cup of tea, I put my used teabags in a small container that I took with me to the hotel, and took the wrapping home too so that nothing was sent to landfill. When I got home, I put the teabags in my food waste bin, which is collected by my local council on a weekly basis to process into biofuels. If you don’t have such a service in your area, composting is another alternative. Before putting teabags into a compost bin, I’d recommend making sure they are definitely compostable. Some teabags are, and it will usually say on the packaging if they are. Some, however, are not currently compostable as they contain some plastic.
4. Take your own flip flops when staying at a spa resort
My most recent hotel stay was at a spa resort for a hen weekend. Upon checking in, I saw a number of people wearing flip flops which were supplied by the hotel. The person in our group who had organised the hen weekend had asked us all to take our own flip flops with us. This is a great thing to do to be more eco friendly in this situation. By taking our own, it means we don’t have to take a pair which is supplied by the hotel. Often they come wrapped in plastic, and guests might wear them just once. A great eco friendly alternative!
5. Take only the food you really need at mealtimes
Many hotels have a buffet at meal times, where you can take as much or as little food as you wish. I don’t know about you, but in this situation I find I’m often tempted to put more food on my plate than I might be able to eat; after all, there is so much to choose from! By taking smaller portions and going back for a second helping where we’d like to, we can avoid sending food to landfill because there won’t be any leftovers.
6. Use only the water that you need to
As with no. 5 above, there is often the temptation to use more water than we need to because we’re staying in a hotel – perhaps because we want to make the most of our stay. For example, some of the ways we can make sure we’re not using more water than we need to are:
- use just enough water when showering;
- don’t leave the tap running when cleaning our teeth;
- use just enough water in the kettle when making a hot drink
7. Pack a refillable water bottle for drinks
This is a great one for saving money. Pack a water bottle already filled with water. Once it’s empty, it can be filled up as necessary at water fountains, or from a tap. By doing this we can avoid buying drinks in plastic bottles from shops or vending machines as well as avoiding plastic-lined cups.
8. Travel to the hotel by public transport
Choose to take public transport to the hotel where possible. Trains and buses run on a regular basis, and by using public transport we’re not contributing as much towards pollution levels. Why not utilise them as much as possible?