I feel like it’s been FOREVER since I’ve written a new blog post. I’ve just been so busy making my 101 ways to Make Your Travels Greener, and tabling at the Kentucky Green Living Fair (not to mention all the trips I’m working on for clients!).
Having to stay in a hotel before the KY Green Living Fair gave me a rude awakening. As much as I would have liked to have stayed at an amazing organic/sustainable lodging, the options just weren’t there. Sometimes we don’t get the opportunity to choose the most sustainable option. So this blog post helps you make your hotel stays sustainable, even when you don’t get to choose an off-the-grid Xanadu.
#1 Unplug/Turn Off Appliances You Won’t Use
A lot of hotels these days have refrigerators in the room. Do you use it? Unlikely! So unplug that sucker! (Or, if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, which I get, set it to the warmest temperature.)
Do you use your cell phone as an alarm/clock? Unplug the alarm clock in the room! Same goes for the microwave: unless you’re going to use it, unplug it. Unplug the hair dryer; unplug the coffee maker. Unplug, unplug!
And of course, if you can’t reach the plugs, or don’t feel comfortable doing that, just don’t use the appliances. Need coffee in the morning? Get it at the breakfast buffet (assuming there is one). Which reminds me (unrelated to unplugging): if your hotel room uses the little one-cup pod coffee maker, PLEASE don’t use it. It’s such a waste—I try not to use pods anywhere, but hotel pods are especially wasteful because the pods themselves are individually wrapped.
#2 Keep All Your Recyclables/Reduce Your Waste
Keeping recyclables can be gross--you don’t want to get old soft drink residue all over your hands/luggage/car! So, plan ahead: have a designated recyclable carrier like a bag or box you can keep with you in your luggage or car if it’s a road trip.
If your hotel does recycle, keep in mind that not everything you can recycle at home is recyclable at your hotel. I learned that Somerset does not recycle glass anymore. (I learned it too late and had to throw away my glass in the trash. What a waste!)
There are lots of ways to reduce your waste at a hotel too: bring your own shampoo/soap or, if you use the hotel’s, take it with you—those bottles will just get tossed otherwise. If the hotel provides a continental breakfast try to opt for food that doesn’t require you to open additional packets. Try to avoid jams, peanut butter, syrups, etc. in individually contained packages. Don’t get straws, and if you have a choice between cardboard cups and plastic, opt for cardboard.
Or better yet, just bring your own food!
#3 Conserve Your Resources
Most hotels use one air conditioning unit per room. It makes sense because people have different ideas about what a comfortable temperature is, but it’s certainly less energy efficient. Try to use your room air conditioning unit as little as possible—layer up if you’re cold or wear fewer clothes if you’re hot, instead.
Same goes for water! You may or may not be aware of the water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa. But they’ve had a steady three-year drought, and while they are not scheduled to run out of water this year, they are still on strict water rationing. One way they mindfully conserve water is in the shower, and that conservation is so important that a new genre of music has blossomed: 2-minute shower songs. Crank up your phone and play one of those songs to get you through a 2-minute shower.
Other ways to conserve resources? Avoid the ice machine unless you absolutely need to keep something cold. Most ice gets wasted and then the ice machine ran for no reason. Always use your Do Not Disturb sign when you leave your room so your linens don’t get replaced.
#4 Use TraffickCam
I cannot stress the importance of this app enough. I posted on Instagram about it a week or so ago, and someone responded “Wow what an incredible app, I never knew this existed.” I feel like I harp on it and harp on it and that everyone is sick of hearing about it, but there are still people who don’t know about it!
As a refresher, TraffickCam is an app that collects pictures of your hotel room, and those pictures are put in a database that law enforcement can use when trying to track down victims of human trafficking. Traffickers often take pictures of their victims in the hotel rooms they are staying in to advertise them. TraffickCam’s database is then used to figure out where those victims of human trafficking are.
It’s super easy. You take three pictures of your room, list your room number, and your location. That’s it. Even if this app only happens to save one person from human trafficking, it is well worth it.
So please, please use it when you travel!
Now get out there and go!