Although we get a bad rap, Millennials are behind a lot of the good changes slowly taking place around the world. One of many things being molded by millennial desires is the hospitality industry. As our appetite for technology and experience-based travel has changed the amenities hotels offer, so has our demand for corporate social responsibility put the onus on hoteliers to implement environmentally friendly initiatives — that is, to “green” their hotels.
According to a 2017 study from Booking.com, 65% of global travelers seek out eco-friendly lodging. That said, it’s not always possible (or affordable) to stay in green hotels. So, what’s an eco-friendly traveler to do? Well, even if the hotel you’re staying in isn’t eco-friendly, you still have a lot of control over your environmental impact. Here are five tips to keep your hotel stay as green as possible.
At home, do you wash your bath towels after just one use? How often do you wash your sheets? Though it’s tempting to crawl into fresh sheets every night and dry yourself with fresh, fluffy towels every morning, there’s really no need for the hotel to waste water washing things more frequently than you wash them at home — which really only needs to be done once a week. Hang your towels on the towel racks or over the shower rail to dry and reuse your sheets — the Earth will thank you for it.
Many hotel chains offer a towel reuse option. Ask when checking in about how to signal you’ll reuse your towels — often, hanging them up is the only action required.
Do Not Disturb
Speaking of reusing towels and sheets, how exactly do you go about stopping housekeeping from doing their job? It’s easy! Simply hang the “do not disturb” sign on your door for your entire stay and they’ll pass by your room while on their rounds. Not only will this prevent them from wasting water by changing your sheets and towels unnecessarily, but it will also keep them from needlessly consuming electricity by vacuuming. If you really want your room tidied, do it yourself. Making your bed and putting things in order is a great way to start your morning, even when on vacation!
Bring Your Own Toiletries
A lot of plastics go into creating those tiny bottles of shampoo and conditioner — and it’s really not necessary. Instead of using these amenities, bring your own shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. When checking in or out, ask the hotel what they do with half-used toiletries. If their answer is that they throw them out, encourage them to give instead to charities such as Clean the World.
While you’re inquiring about toiletries, ask if the hotel has a recycling program. If not, urge them to start one — it’s an essential part of building a circular economy. Meanwhile, gather your recyclable waste and pack it out with you.
Keep Up Your “At Home” Green Habits
Keep your showers short and be sure to shut the water off while brushing your teeth. Open or close your drapes to help reduce the need for heating, air conditioning, and lighting. When you leave the room for the day, turn off the television, lights, and heating/air-conditioning.
Even if you can’t pick a green place to stay when traveling, you can at the very least make choices that limit electricity, water, and plastic waste. Although it behooves us to encourage as many hotels as possible to jump on the eco-friendly train, truly responsible traveling begins with travelers themselves. Happy trails!
Originally published on October 5, 2018, this article was updated in October 2021.