4 Mainstream Hotels Proving You Don't Have To Spend A Lot To Travel Sustainably

Photo by Kayla Snell

Today's travelers are more eco-savvy than ever—and they're encouraging major shifts in the hospitality industry. According to a 2017 survey on about 2,000 hotels and resorts around the world by Green Lodging Trends, 68 percent had some sort of "green team" in place to find ways to lessen the environmental impact of their properties. And it's not just pricey, luxe eco-resorts that are seeking sustainable change: Mainstream hotel chains from Westin to Marriott are making a real effort to clean up their act in an industry that has historically been a huge producer of waste and emissions. These four big names have made some equally big changes lately in the name of the planet.

Westin

Bed linens are one major source of waste in the hotel industry. They need to be washed constantly, and they're often discarded when they start to show too much wear and tear. In March, Westin Hotels went public with its program to make used sheets go a little bit further by breaking them down and turning them into pajamas for kids in need. The hotel said that in its first five months, the program had diverted 30,000 pounds of worn bed linens from landfills and turned them into 2,000 pairs of PJs.

Photo: Westin

Earlier this year, the brand also introduced a consumer-facing campaign to get people around the world to do a green deed, which served as an extension of the brand's wellness platform. Westin invited runners to its locations across NYC and Maui to head out on a "plogging" adventure and pick up trash on the streets and beaches as they jog.

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Hilton

In May, Hilton announced it wants to cut its environmental footprint in half and double its social impact investing by 2030. That goal entails reducing carbon emissions by 61 percent across its more than 5,200 hotels around the world, cutting down its water waste by half, and making more of an effort to ensure the meats, poultry, and seafood served in its restaurants have been sustainably sourced. The chain is also cleaning up its act in a more literal way: It has partnered with a nonprofit called Clean the World to break down all those half-used soap bars travelers leave behind and turn them into new bars that can be distributed to people in need. In its first year, this program collected 121,000 pounds of soap that were re-formed into 650,000 new bars.

Marriott

Marriott is the largest hotel company in the world, with an estimated worth of $14.5 billion. While it can be difficult for companies of this size to implement changes across all of its properties, Marriott has set the goal of reducing energy use by 13 percent, water use by 7.7 percent, and greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2025, compared to 2007 levels. It is also looking to increase the number of hotels that offer technology like electric car chargers and cut down on food waste and food sent to landfill by about half. Definite progress!

Hyatt

Hyatt is one of the founding members of the Hotel Kitchen Toolkit—a collection of hotels and NGOs working to find ways to reduce food waste across the hospitality industry. The chain has started to conduct food waste audits across all of its hotels and has made the findings open to the public so that other businesses can learn from them. By 2020, Hyatt aims to double the percentage of North America hotels with food donation programs and make food waste prevention training mandatory for employees.

Food waste is a huge problem in hospitality. Check out some of the creative ways people are trying to tackle it.

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