Hotels & Accommodations
The United States has 54,000+ hotels and motels. This industry, not known for its green or socially responsible practices, is largely supported by business travel, which contributes an estimated $37 billion per year. Many hotels do not pay a living wage to their workers and waste huge amounts of food that could be donated to local shelters or food banks. Catering to transient clientele, hotels use staggering amounts of chemicals to clean rooms and water to launder sheets and towels. Hotels are also disproportionately large distributors of disposable products and containers made from non-recycled content: single-use toiletries, disposable food-serving containers (e.g. Styrofoam), disposable eating utensils, etc.
There are several steps you can take to support environmentally sustainable and socially responsible lodgings. The first is to stay in a recognized/certified green and socially responsible hotel or motel. Below is a link to hotels that have been certified by Greenseal to meet certain practice requirements. Many non-certified establishments also maintain high social and sustainability standards. Consider phoning or faxing ahead to ask about a hotel’s approach to these issues. This questionnaire assembled by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) gives helpful suggestions of what to ask.
Consider these tips to help ensure that your stay in a hotel or motel has a lower impact on the environment and justly supports the people who take care of you during your stay:
- Reuse towels: If you are staying for multiple days, hang up your towels to dry after showering.
- Bring your own toiletries instead of using the disposable options provided by some hotels.
- Turn the lights off when leaving your hotel room.
- Give feedback to your hotel with the Green Hotel Initiative Guest Request Card.