Are you making a difference or just adding to the trash?

Over the last few months, and especially the past few weeks, sustainability and saving our planet has been a huge focus worldwide. We have seen Greta Thunberg talking to UN leaders and no matter what you think about her, it’s clear she has a lot of passion and wants to make a difference. She has even made Times Magazine’s list of 15 women who will change the world.




While the hospitality industry has seen awareness growing around this topic for some time, we are now seeing brands really starting to take action. From small changes, such as keeping bee hives like Breaffy House Hotel is doing, to creating positions specifically aimed at implementing green changes like Connacht Hospitality, going green is no longer seen as optional.

Which leaves us with the questions: Where do you even start to find about what you can do? And what might the advantages be?

What is sustainable tourism development?

"Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities" - UN World Travel Organisation

Tips for green sustainability

With Cedar Manor’s “Green Hotel” credentials and knowing how important sustainability is to owner Jonathan Kaye and his whole team, he was my first port of call on this subject. He has shared his top tips on where hotels looking to be sustainable can start. (Thanks, Jonathan!)

  1. Recycle everything. Use your local waste company for advice on achieving zero waste to landfill.

  2. Restrict water use. Get butts (or tanks) for your gardens and restrictors for your taps and showers. There are many eco shower heads and taps now available that restrict water flow. Dual flush is also essential on the loos.

  3. Have a switch-off policy for electricity. Install LED lights in all areas with motion sensors or timers in public areas so they are only on when they need to be.

“One LED bulb would last as long as 20 incandescent bulbs, making the cost of each over 20,000 hours: £5.40 for the LED, and £25.80 for the filament bulbs.” — Simply LED

  1. Consider renewable energy. Look at whether you can either buy or rent a solar or wind solution for your property, for example.

  2. Educate your staff and guests. At Cedar Manor there is a Green Charter for both.

  3. Choose local and seasonal food. When it comes to your food offering, find the best local produce, keep it in season, refuse plastic packaging and return packaging to the wholesalers.

  4. Double glazing and insulation is important. Heating consumes a lot of energy, so ensure your property is well-insulated to minimise energy use.

  5. Be conscious about materials and transport costs. All the furniture at Cedar Manor is made within 3 miles of the hotel using FSC woods, with carpets and underlay made locally too. When painting, ensure that you only use lead-free paints.

  1. Encourage staff and guests to give back to the community. Cedar Manor recommends that their team get involved in charitable projects and also operates Visitor Giving (asking guests to make a small donation to local charities).

  2. Walk, don’t drive. We ask our staff to walk to work and leave their cars at home wherever possible.

  3. Reduce paper use. Only print what’s essential and use press readers instead of daily papers and magazines.

These are all really achievable practices to start putting in place at properties and will no doubt have a positive impact on the planet.

Useful resources for taking the next step

If you are already implementing many of these at your property, there are some great resources and companies online for further guidance.

The Considerate Group is a specialist company that focuses on the hospitality sector and related industries looking to operate more responsibly. Since I’m a bit of a 50 Shades fan myself, the title of their video “50 Shades of Green” caught my eye. I had a chat with them about it and recommend that you check out the video, which explains “how caring about the environment can be sexy - and luxury can be ecological.”

Green Tourism helps businesses improve sustainability and can offer advice on subjects from reducing energy levels to promoting biodiversity.

TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders Programme showcases properties that are going green and is also worth checking out when you need some inspiration. The properties are ranked according to four different badges from Bronze to Platinum. There are minimum requirements that you’d need to meet to get a badge, but with more travellers looking for green properties, this could be a great way to introduce yourself to potential guests, and even inspire your marketing team with new ideas and strategies.

Every little bit helps

In the long run, going green saves you money. Even if you just change the light bulbs to LEDs, you will use less electricity and have to change them less often. According to Simply LED, “One LED bulb would last as long as 20 incandescent bulbs, making the cost of each over 20,000 hours: £5.40 for the LED, and £25.80 for the filament bulbs.” Who can argue with that kind of saving?

Not only does GuestRevu enable hoteliers to get rid of comment cards by making the whole feedback process for guests paperless, but allowing unlimited users means that our digital reports can be accessed online rather than printed and shared, so much less paper is wasted!

During October 2019, we also donated 5% of our setup fee to Marine Conservation Society, which is a UK charity who are helping to ensure that our oceans are healthy and pollution free.

With “travel’s responsibility to the world” being the theme at the 2019 Skift Global Forum held in New York, it is clear that there is more need now than ever to do what we can. Though industry leaders agree that they still need to work out the specifics, we can all start by doing our part to make hospitality and travel more sustainable. If everyone does a little, that will amount to a whole lot being done.

I hope this sheds some light on where and how you can start. Please let us know what you’re doing to make a difference as it may just help the sustainable revolution or inspire others to do their part :)