Green Travel: 3 Ways To Make Hotel Stays Greener, Not Less Comfortable

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Hotels are making strides in reducing waste, energy use, and sustainability. Most major chains have put in place eco-friendly operating policies.  Some hotels even offer guests green options such as skipping linen and towel service, with bonuses as an incentive if you do. My favorite is allowing guests to earn meals by generating enough electricity from the exercise bike in the health club.

But as a temporary resident of a hotel, there are things you can do as well to make your stay more eco-friendly and greener. Here are three:

1) Re-use your towels and linens for 2-3 days rather than having them changed every day. At home you probably do not launder your towels after every use. There is no reason to do that when you are traveling away from home, either.  A lot of water, energy, and detergent can be saved if most guests would reuse towels and linens for just one additional day. To make sure your towels are reused and not collected by housekeeping staff, typically you simply hang up your towels after use. Leaving them on the floor or in the bathtub will get them changed automatically.

2) Don’t leave the lights and AC going in the room while you are away. European hotels are learning to do this automatically with key-card slots that activate the air-conditioning and lighting while you are in the room and deactivate them when you leave and take the key. Hotels in the US have not generally adopted this technique, meaning the guests typically must do this on their own. This simple step is well worthwhile. Cooling and lighting an empty room are a waste of energy.

3) Walk or take public transportation in cities when possible, rather than taking taxis or driving. You know that you can use the exercise, and the environment can use less congestion on the roads and fewer automobile emissions.

Additionally, since miniature shampoos and conditioners are required if you carry on your bags, I never scold for using these, as some green travel enthusiasts so. In fact, I usually take the unused portion with me as it makes a nice carry-on size. These miniature shampoo and conditioner bottles are less than three ounces and fit easily in a small plastic zip-lock bag.

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June 2011
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