Each consulting job I’ve had has taught me how differently everyone approaches their lodging business. You can be sure their approach to greening their properties is unique too. Let me share highlights of various consulting jobs I’ve had. This article covers greening the laundry room.
A B&B-like hotel, taking its first step in greening its operations, started with its laundry system. That step also included implementing a sheet and towel reuse program.
After discussing the various approaches different hotels take — let guests ask to have sheets and towels changed; let guests ask to not have sheets and towels changed; tell guests your frequency of when you change sheets and towels, like every three days — they opted to change guest linens every three days. Of course they allowed for the need or request for a more frequent change.
A sheet and towel reuse program saves in various ways: conservation of water, energy, laundry supplies, and manpower, and saving money by not having to replace sheets and towels as often, and by not wasting resources.
Their large commercial front loading washer and dryer were already saving them time and money. Front loading washers are both water and energy efficient. But that was the end of the good news about their laundry room.
Out of habit and cost savings they were buying bulk laundry supplies from various discount, big-box stores, but supplies that are hard on the environment and the people using them. They had big buckets of laundry soap, mega-dispensers of fabric softener, and gallons of bleach lining their shelves.
There are several good environmentally friendly laundry products available, but they can’t compete in price to the deep discount detergents found at the big-box stores. But using baking soda and white vinegar in the wash and rinse cycles is a cheap alternative to fabric softeners, and I urged that change. I also introduced them to an oxygen bleach that was gentle on the environment and people, and at a competitive price to chlorine bleach.
Aha! It turns out one owner and the housekeepers preferred the products on the shelves to others. It’s one thing to retrain the staff, but if the ownership isn’t behind the changes the changes won’t happen. And that was the bottom line in this case: one owner and housekeeping against the other owner.
So while the hotel never changed from the environmentally harmful laundry supplies the owner in favor of the change converted her home laundry to a greener one. She’s still experimenting with the laundry soaps, but she’s not using fabric softener or bleach anymore and instead using baking soda, white vinegar and the oxygen bleach – StainSolver.
Going green is a constant set of decision making steps. You may not be able to do everything you want right away, and you may never be able to take some of the green actions you want to. And you decide between two products that have short-comings, short-comings you have to balance in your quest for being green.
But taking the first step with future steps planned right behind them is the way to start. Use the savings from your each action to help fund subsequent actions, and watch your B&B get greener and more sustainable all the time.
* Sage Blossom Consulting *
Sustainable Hospitality Is Our Business
Kit Cassingham, Member ISHC
* 1.970.626.6057 *
Kit Cassingham, Founder and Chief Sustainability Officer of Sage Blossom Consulting, is a hospitality consultant to the B&B and hotel industries. Her focus includes market niche, and sustainable and green operations.