Why hotels are going green

As sustainability emerges as a new key for the future of hotel industries with “going green” as the main element, hotels are changing. So how are they changing? The answer to this question is quite simple. As environmental issues became a hot topic with the public, hotel industries were criticized for affecting the environment by using a large amount of disposable products. As a result, several hotel companies decided to go green: banning disposable products, using nature-friendly materials, and increasing the size of amenities. But, sustainability isn’t just about protecting nature; it is also about communicating with the customers which currently are demanding the hotel industry to go green. 

Recently, several hotels changed their key-card, toothbrushes, straws, and tablewares, but there weren’t any significant differences in design or performance; instead, the materials have changed. For example key-cards and toothbrushes are made up of wood; straws and tablewares are made up of paper. It might seem as if it is a huge change environmentally, but imagine what might be the collective impact of several major companies. They would own thousands of hotels around the world and if every one of them stopped using disposable products it would have a similar impact of banning millions of households from using disposable products. 

Using products which are made up of nature-friendly materials might be very financially less profitable, but it could be viewed differently with sustainability in mind. Several polls showed that more than half of the participants favored brands which have a positive effect environmentally and socially. The preference is more clear in polls of Millennials, with younger generations tending to be more environmentally conscious. These results affected the hotel industry by not only telling what the public wants but also telling which way the future of the hotel industry should be heading. Millennials especially are telling companies to go green and it can’t be ignored due to their larger numbers. Millennials who are currently a major percentage of the workforce, until they are fully replaced by the Z generation, they would be the main customers for the hotel industry. 

Furthermore, going green is not a trend but a reflection of the customers’ voices. This can be seen not only in hotel industries but also in the cafe industries. One famous example would be the global cafe franchise Starbucks’s eco-friendly management. They announced in July 2018 that they will eliminate plastic straws from 30,000 stores worldwide until 2020, and they actually successfully removed plastic straws and replaced them with paper straws. Also they’ve changed the lids, which contains 10-percent less plastic than the lids that were used before. By this enormous change Starbucks received recognition as pioneers of going green and also as an eco-friendly company. As a result the image and reputation of Starbucks has risen since they implemented going green, and other cafe franchises are also willing to change their straws, lids, and even trying to ban their plastic cups, requiring customers to bring their own cups.

In conclusion, sustainability is not only good for the environment but also necessary to the future of the hospitality industry.

By Minsoo Kim