Assuming you’ve already committed to forming a sustainable company culture, filtered your new applicants for their interest in sustainability, and gotten started on researching sustainable issues, you’re all set to take action. It’s all about change!
How to get started? If you’ve got a large company, you may want to appoint an existing staff member (or hire a new one) to be responsible for the company’s sustainable management. This should be a person that’s both knowledgeable and passionate about eco issues.This person should also have excellent people skills, since the position will involve educating both staff and guests about sustainability and how to green up every possible aspect of the hotel, its offices, and the guest’s experience.
You’ll also want to appoint someone from each area to work closely with this person to come up with ideas to make each department more sustainable, and then to help implement and supervise changes. Again, these should be people that are passionate about sustainability (though not necessarily knowledgeable in the area; they can learn), and this group may or may not be comprised of the head or manager of each department. In any case, this should be a highly collaborative effort, involving anyone and everyone who is interested in participating, no matter what their position in the company. Hierarchy is not important here: we can (and should) all work toward greenifying our workplace and our lives.
If you’ve got a small company, or if you’d rather get started little by little, then this is something you can put together as a group. Hopefully by now some of your team members have watched some of the movies you’ve recommended or read one or more of the books. (Again, this should not be obligatory. It’s not homework. If you force it on them, they’ll hate it.)
Meet up with different areas–administration, F&B, rooms division (both front desk and housekeeping), maintenance/landscaping, spa, etc.–and brainstorm with them for ideas on how to make each aspect of the company more sustainable. Be sure to bring in a handful of ideas for each area to help you get started.
Some examples (this will be a quick list, since I intend to go into each item with more detail in future posts):
- Make it company policy (and include it in the company email signatures) to only print what is absolutely necessary. Always think twice before hitting CTRL + P. When you do have to print, use both sides of the page.
- Does your office use disposable cups for coffee? Encourage staff to each bring a mug from home, or invest in a set of mugs for everyone.
- Connect all electrical devices to power strips, and turn them off before leaving the office each evening.
- Purchase food from local farmers and providers.
- Use only in-season fruit, with as few exceptions to the rule as possible.
- Purchase only organic fruit and veggies, whenever possible.
- Work in conjunction with Landscaping to develop not only a compost bin but also a fruit and vegetable garden to produce fresh organic produce for the guests.
Rooms division (both front desk and housekeeping)
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs or LEDs.
- Install low-flow shower heads and toilets in all bathrooms.
- Install a door-key-card–controlled electricity system, where guests remove their card when they leave and the whole room automatically “turns off.” (This is akin to having a giant power strip for the entire room.)
- Install wall dispensers for shampoo/conditioner/shower gel/lotion rather than individual bottles.
- Always use lead-free paints.
- Make use of only native plant species in the landscaping.
- Use organic/non-toxic methods for pest control.
- Work in conjunction with F&B to develop not only a compost bin but also a fruit and vegetable garden to produce fresh organic produce for the guests.
Spa (if your hotel has one; many suggestions from other areas can be applied here and vice versa)
- Use of organic cotton or hemp bathrobes and towels.
- Use natural ingredients such as fruit, nuts, and seeds rather than commercial products for facials and treatments.
- Use of organic massage oil in treatments.
Now that you’ve got your list together, you need to classify items for implementation. Start with quick, easy changes that are easy to make. Then make the changes that require only a small investment or those that will produce the greatest savings. Save the larger projects for last, but do be sure to put a deadline for completion (and a team member responsible for their implementation) so they don’t get forgotten.
It’s important to inform your entire team about each change, explaining why it was made and how it will help sustainability. You can do this with a quick meeting to inform staff. You can also set up a large bulletin board in the staff lunch room to share eco updates and photos of changes. Better yet, you can put this bulletin board near your front desk so guests can learn about each eco effort.
Set up a page within your website where you can share the same updates and photos. Your guests will appreciate each change you make to help the environment, especially if you share personalized stories about which staff member contributed which idea.
Especially at the beginning, I’d resist the temptation to send out a quick email to inform of the changes. Your hotel’s path to sustainability is something that should be more of a social event; with everyone sharing in on the process. Email can be impersonal and, of course, it’s easy to delete without reading through it.
Keep in mind that we can always be greener, so this brainstorming-and-implementation process should be ongoing. It’s not something that we do once and then we’re set. Plan to repeat the process after a couple of months, or after all of your changes from Phase 2 (small investment-greatest savings) are completed.
Have fun (this is important), and let me know how it goes!