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Environmental Innkeeping

September 23, 2000

by Kit Cassingham

There are several environmental issues surrounding the hospitality industry that innkeepers can tend to with their policies and actions. Environmental awareness is the first step in taking action. Environmental education is key to getting your guests online with your policies. Current environmental issues, various environmental problems, and several environmental protection ideas are shared in this article.

Have you ever wondered about B&B innkeeping and waste? I'll tell you that my environmental heart was tugged at daily by the amount of waste I perceived in running my B&B. Now, I managed an inn 12 years ago and technology has come a long way since then, but there were still a few things I could do even "back then" to help minimize waste.

What kind of waste is there in a B&B? Water, electricity, gas, paper/cans/bottles, and food -- for starters. I easily managed the food waste problem, but the others were a challenge for a variety of reasons. I find innkeeping to be a balancing act, and the act of balancing environmental issues with hospitality is important. To me it's a balancing act because I want my guests to not feel constrained during their stay with me but I also don't want to feel anxious about wasting resources. Let's look at each item separately.

Water.
Where's the waste potential there? Showers, sinks, toilets, dishes, laundry, yards -- to name a few. Flow restrictors in the bathrooms and kitchen allow water to seem ample without draining it down the pipes. Water conservation is yet another good argument for commercial dishwashers and washing machines. You can get lots of work done with minimal use of water. But, if you decide on home-style machines then look for water conserving features. My best answer for conserving water in the yard is to plant a xeriscaped garden and to mulch. What a xeric garden means to you is that the plants you use around the grounds are native to your area, or to areas with similar weather patterns, and won't use more water than occurs naturally. Of course leaks can steal lots of water too - so repair toilets, faucets, pipes, and anything that isn't doing its job to conserve water. You will save water and money!

Electricity.
Electric use is one that people see even more than water use. I'm glad to see that there are more options available today than when I was an innkeeper. I suspect you are using lots of these ideas already, but let me review just a few options that will help you cut down your electric bill. Light bulbs have come a long way in their short history. You know have the option of compact fluorescent bulbs that will fit in most light fixtures you have around the inn. Using 3-way bulbs in bedside lamps lets you and the guests control the usage based on the need. Various low wattage bulbs, like for night lights and yard lights, are a great idea too. Hang curtains in windows, not only for giving guests a sense of privacy but also for temperature control. Keeping the hot and cold on the appropriate side of the window is important not only for guest comfort but also for your budget and the environment. If you are constructing or renovating your house, the installation of well insul ated walls and windows is worth the extra cost because of guest comfort, budget, and the environment. Keep an eye on buying energy efficient appliances, reduce the heat on the water heater(s), and insulated your hot tubs; you'll notice the difference in your utility bills, and mother-nature will love you too.

Gas usage is much like electric usage in that insulated walls, curtains, windows, flow restrictors in showers/tubs all help reduce consumption and increase guest comfort.

Reduce, recycle, reuse -- paper, cans, glass, plastic; buy in bulk; and avoid highly packaged goods (pre-cycle) and "styrofoam'. Give priority to glass and metal containers over plastic because of the energy efficiency in both making the containers and recycling the materials.


There is so much you can do to make your inn more energy and cost efficient, comfortable for you and your guests, and to protect our environment. I hope that you are "energized" to think of even more you can do than I have covered in this newsletter. Promoting your inn as 'green' is a great marketing tool. Visit Environmentally Friendly Hotels or my Green Innkeeping page to learn more and support the environmental movement in regards to the hospitality industry.




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