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How sustainable hotels contribute to a healthier environment?

Responding to environmental problems

 

There are many ways in which sustainable tourism can create a beneficial impact on natural environments, wildlife, natural resources and human health. For instance, when hotels implement measures that can safeguard the integrity of ecosystems, they do less damage to the environment. On the other hand, guests can contribute by choosing a green destination and join the responsible travel movement.

Here is a list of the most relevant eco-friendly gestures implemented by eco-friendly hotels that have a positive impact on the environment and customer experience:

1. Eco-hotels minimise energy consumption

By installing energy-saving technologies, hotels can become more eco-friendly and reduce their impact on the environment. Switching to energy-saving light bulbs, installing motion sensor lights in communal areas and ensuring all appliances are energy class A are just some minor changes that can be made.

Some of our hotels have taken a step further by generating electricity from a clean energy source like solar energy, geothermal energy, wind energy and other developed technologies.

 

Biotique La Vimea: Use of 100% renewable energy

 

2. Eco-hotels compost food waste

​Hotels can now compost tons of food waste each month into a high-quality composted organic fertiliser onsite. Unfortunately, many hotels are still storing waste food in specialised rooms with refrigerated storage equipment waiting to be collected and disposed in the landfill. To avoid massive energy consumption, composter machines come in handy. Compost machines work by digesting food waste into liquid organic fertilisers which is then ready to use as organic fertiliser replacing artificial ones.

 

Valsana Hotel Arosa: Kitchen waste is sent to producers of biogas fuels

 

3. Eco-hotels save water

Hotels use a vast amount of water every day, not just for human consumption but also to maintain the grounds.

Rather than using a sprinkler system or hose that runs from the main water supply, recycling rainwater to a storage tank allows hotels to collect enough supply to maintain good soil moisture levels in the grounds. This is a much more eco-friendly and sustainable way for a hotel to run!

 

Sentido Galomar hotel: Use of rainwater system collection

 

4. Eco-hotels minimise food waste

Enjoying food is an integral part of any travel experience. As appealing as they look, a hotel breakfast and dinner buffet generates a massive amount of waste every single day. If the food is not eaten and instead disposed of in landfill and rots, it produces methane — a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide. Other landfill gases by the bacteria during decomposition such carbon dioxide, nitrogen and hydrogen sulfide.

When we waste food, we also waste all the energy and water it was used to grow, harvest, transport and package it. By implementing a buffet style with an ‘à la carte menu’, dishes are ordered individually, which means less food waste will be produced.

 

Hotel Finca La Donaira: Both lunch and dinner are a three-course set menu mostly vegetarian

 

5. Eco-hotels are either vegan or purchase local, seasonal and organic food

Purchasing seasonal, local produce food not only cuts delivery costs but also supplies food far richer in nutrient-dense ingredients than food purchased from a chain supermarket. Fruit and vegetables that have had to travel long distances to reach their destiny tend to be irradiated and harvested at the early stages of maturity. This means they have a longer shelf life but provide less flavour and are of less nutritional value.

Hotels that use permaculture farming practices or purchase organic food are also very much helping in keeping our water supply clean of synthetic pesticides and reducing soil erosion, hence increasing soil fertility. Since farming with pesticides have been linked in many studies to cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, ADHD, and even birth defects, here is another ethical reason to choose a destination that’s working towards your health and that of the planet!

 

Hotel Agrilla I Pini: Use of organic farming and permaculture techniques in own garden

 

6. Eco-hotels promote green practices among guests

Hotels that are eco-friendly and designed with sustainability in mind usually offer a number of activities that supports the planet. These activities vary from local culinary classes, DIY natural cosmetic workshops to planting trees and encouraging guests to use refillable water bottles as an example to others on how to live sustainably.

Tours of an eco-friendly gesture that allow guests to explore their surroundings while minimising impact are also offer at some eco-friendly hotels. Providing free bicycle rental and electric charging stations for vehicles will certainly help guests integrate into an eco-sustainable journey.

 

Monchique Resort & Thermal Spa: Mountain bike and electric bike rental

 

7. Eco-hotels avoid or reduce the use of plastic

Plastic water bottles and food plastic containers have been around for years despite being bad for the environment and potentially harmful in the long term to humans. If they leach any synthetic chemicals known as endocrine disruptors, they can cause cancer over time when exposed to UV, heat and when breaking down naturally. According to leading international public health scientists, these chemicals have the ability to mimic oestrogen hormones in the body producing male reproductive malfunctions and disturb the homeostatic mechanisms of the body.

Despite single-use plastics being banned in Europe in July 2021, the mismanagement of plastic waste over the last 70 years has already caused irreversible environmental damage. An unprecedented number of microplastics and microbeads have been found in the deep oceans, the air we breathe, the fish and table salt we eat, the water we drink and the rain that waters our crops. Even if we cut down plastic production, existing plastics will continue to break down and disintegrate into smaller pieces, leaching for centuries unwanted chemicals in the environment.

Since much of the plastic waste around the world ends up in the oceans, eco-friendly hotels can very much help by replacing all plastic containers in the rooms with refillable dispensers for soaps, shampoos and conditioners. Another simple gesture is to offer all guests refillable glass water bottles that they can refill in water filtered stations in the hotel.

 

Jungle Bay Dominica Resort: Guests receive a re-usable water bottle

 

8. Eco-hotels don’t use pesticides in their grounds to save the bees

Honeybees are responsible for an astonishing €30 billion a year in crops, making them an essential beneficiary insect. Every year around 30% – 40% of bees are killed due to herbicides and pesticides. These chemicals are highly toxic and work by damaging the insect’s nervous system. Coincidently, more and more farmers and individuals living in rural areas, where pesticides and herbicides are used, are developing Parkinson’s disease – a progressive nervous system disorder. One study found that the number of Parkinson’s sufferers in these areas has doubled since 1990s. If the use of these toxins continues, we may lose all the plants that bees pollinate, resulting in a mass loss of animals that feed off the plants continuing further and further up the food chain.

 

Mangosteen Ayurveda Resort: Use of strictly oils and herbs as pest control

 

9. Eco-hotels support the local community

It comes as no surprise that sustainable destinations can highly benefit local communities and their surroundings. Eco-friendly hotels not only generate more local jobs thanks to the purchase of handcrafted or up-cycled furniture, but also keep old traditions alive and less waste from its production.

Opting for local building materials is a gesture that cares about the local environment beyond hotel grounds.

 

Navutu Dreams Resort & Wellness Retreat: Supports and promotes local artisans

 

10. Eco-hotels preserve or restore native plant habitat

Trees are not only attractive aesthetically, but they also provide a significant number of benefits to a landscape. Trees and plants remove carbon from the atmosphere by using the energy of sunlight and through the process of photosynthesis. Taking carbon dioxide from both the air and the water from the ground, once absorbed through the roots, it is released as oxygen into the air. Trees and plants also help slow heavy rain, reducing the risk of flooding and providing shade from the sunlight on warmer days.

Hotels that restore native plant habitat in their grounds with natural flora can help preserve biodiversity in the local surrounding. Planting trees and plants is a more sustainable way to combat deforestation and climate change.

 

Paradis Plage Surf & Yoga Hotel: Certified organic hotel

 

11. Eco-hotels use less paper or buy from certified brands

Alongside food waste and plastic waste, one of the largest waste products generated by hotels is paper. By identifying paper waste reduction opportunities, hotels can significantly reduce the need to cut down forests for paper making.

One simple strategy is to purchase toilet paper from brands that do not use virgin wood pulp or chlorine to bleach the pulp – a common practice that produces toxic waste by-products.

By using paperless technology for receipts and leaflets, hotels can also minimise their environmental impact. Taking advantage of a digital system to communicate with guests, for example, having tablets available for guests to use in their rooms, are all achievable gestures that bring any hotel into the 21st century.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies in the hospitality industry, so why not take advantage of its benefits post-pandemic?

 

Pine Cliffs Luxury Resort: Uses only paper from companies that are environmental certified

 

12. Eco-hotels use biodegradable cleaning products

It might not seem obvious for most of us, but when we use cleaners or household products with dangerous ingredients, a large part of those chemicals ends up in the oceans, rivers and lakes causing great harm to the habitat of marine life and wildlife. This is because most pollutants cannot be removed in the sewer system or wastewater treatment facilities. On top of causing water pollution, some toxic chemicals such as VOCs (phosphorus, nitrogen and ammonia) can easily be released in the air when cleaning products are used due to their volatile nature. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases therefore contaminating the air we breathe which may cause short or long term adverse health effects on humans.

Endocrine disruptors are also hazardous chemicals present in most cleaning products. These harmful chemicals have been known to affect, mimic and even interfere with an individual’s hormone system. Cleaning products that are not eco-friendly can implement some health risks, including; reproductive and developmental toxicity, cancer, as well as allergies and skin irritations in both humans and animals.

Unlike conventional hotels, eco-friendly hotels who purchase eco-labeled green cleaning products created using safe, non-toxic and biodegradable ingredients, can greatly reduce the health risks and environmental concerns that come along with cleaning.

Another good reason to carefully choose your destination wisely!

 

Elysium Resort & Spa: Use of biodegradable cleaning products and ionisation devices with salt

 

Our final thoughts

A clean environment is not only about cutting down pollution in the air and Co2 emissions. It is also about minimising the use of human-made chemicals in every product we use that present concerns related to the multiple pathways of human exposure and their long-term effect on human health and ecosystems.

Our sustainable hotels work very hard to meet the expectations of eco-conscious travellers. Each of our hotels are on a personal journey to achieve as many eco-friendly benefits as possible for our guests to enjoy and utilise during their sustainable travel experience.

Regardless of where your sustainable commitment is, we are here to enhance your knowledge and provide you with a nutritional sustainable holiday that we trust will not disappoint you during your stay.

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