June 26 – Be a green guest

Minimize the impact of your hotel stay

When traveling, most of us don’t think much about waste or carbon footprints when we settle into a hotel room.  Yet guest habits factor heavily in the energy consumption of hotels, and energy use means emissions. 

So here are a few ideas for things you can do to minimize the environmental impact of your next hotel stay, in rough order of impact:

  • Hotel laundry facilities use enormous amounts of energy, so if you’re staying for more than one night, ask that towels and linens not be changed.  A lot of hotels already do this automatically; some say they won’t change them, but then still do.  To be sure, write a note and leave it on your bed.
  • Minimize towel use by: i) using only the towels you really need; ii) reusing them where possible; iii) picking the smallest towel size that meets your drying needs; and iv) for the hardcore, even daring to share a towel with your partner.   
  • Adjust the air conditioner so things are comfortable but not frigid; even dare to turn it off if it’s feasible and reasonable.  Air conditioning is a big energy user – ironically, heating the planet to keep a small space cool.
  • Turn off lights, radios, TVs and other electronics when you leave the room.  Ironically, they don’t just consume power, they generate heat – which in warm weather increases the load on air conditioners.
  • Set aside the bathmat unused, so that it doesn’t need to be washed for just having been stepped on once or twice by clean wet feet.
  • Take home partially used soap and shampoo; both require energy to manufacture, and are wasted if you leave them.

Unfortunately, few hotels offer incentives for any of the above practices.  So why should you bother?  For the same reasons you’d make other eco-friendly choices: good for the planet, the future and the kids.  No money in your pocket, but hopefully a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart.  (And if you’re inclined, when checking out, tell your host that sustainability matters and it would be nice if they rewarded good practices.  Change happens when enough of us ask for it!)

Summer’s here!  As you enjoy your holidays, why not make your next hotel stay a sustainable one?

PS: Beyond hotels, here’s a great blog about how to make your entire vacation more sustainable.  And for a deeper dive that goes beyond mere sustainability, here are 28 ways to have a great holiday without infuriating the locals.

In the news:

An unlikely coincidence?  A day after the federal government moves to tighten up anti-greenwashing laws and force companies to tell the truth, the Pathways Alliance, an organization set up by the oil sands industry to promote carbon capture and storage and lobby for government subsidies, removes all messaging from its website and social media feeds

Low water and last week’s record heat prompt closure of New Brunswick’s famed Miramichi and Restigouche rivers to salmon fishing – the earliest such closure in memory.

The world’s biggest solar farm – generating enough power to run a city like Los Angeles – goes live in China.


“I truly believe our gardens and green spaces have the answer to the problem that’s plaguing the modern world right now: our disconnect from nature and the consequent acceptance of living in a dying world. Let’s not accept, let’s grow!”

Kate Bradbury, The Guardian, May 28, 2024

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