Talking Point: Creating a healthy environment inside as well as out

Checking for asbestos

Checking for asbestos

Being environmentally friendly doesn’t just mean adopting practices that are kind on the external environment, it also means providing a healthy environment that’s great for staff and guests to spend time in. Studies suggest consumers value organisations and businesses that show green initiative and environmental consciousness. In the hotel industry the health of hospitality staff and guests is of the utmost importance. Taking steps toward sustainable practice in hotels will not only lead to energy efficiency, but promote a healthy environment both inside and outside of the business. Emily Walsh Community Outreach Director of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance has some tips.

Toxin-free Cleaning

Creating a green and healthy environment for guests and employees is essential as a hotelier. One of the most overlooked methods to achieving this is using fewer toxic chemicals throughout the cleaning process. Harsh cleaning products containing bleach, butane, chlorine, hydrochloric acid, and formaldehyde can impact guest health, leading to eye, nose, and throat irritation, loss of coordination, and nausea. These symptoms can worsen after long periods of exposure, resulting in liver, kidney, and central nervous system failure, and even cancer.

Performing Routine Inspections

As a hotelier, it’s important to maintain and monitor the health of the building itself. This is especially true of older structures. First, the hotel’s HVAC systems should be monitored and inspected at least once a year. Carbon monoxide and radon detectors should also be present throughout the hotel to ensure healthy indoor air quality for all inhabitants. When renovating older buildings, it’s a good idea to test for toxins like lead paint and asbestos before proceeding with the project. If found, take all measures to handle them safely, as exposure could lead to life-threatening conditions like asbestosis, nervous system failure, and mesothelioma, a form of cancer with a particularly poor prognosis.

In the case of pest control, prevention is the best policy. If a pest problem does occur, handling vermin using the least-toxic method will ensure the hotel’s health remains intact. Limiting the use of pesticides and taking proactive measures to prevent future problems are typically the best methods when managing pests.

If your hotel has a history of allowing indoor smoking, it’s possible the dangers of exposure could be lingering long after the smoking has ceased. This is known as “thirdhand smoke,” and can impact even the non-smoking sections of a hotel. These toxins can irritate pre-existing respiratory conditions, and pose a threat to health similar to secondhand exposure to smoking. In this instance, deep cleaning and even renovation may be the only ways to fully remove smoke residue.

Managing Facility Waste

Waste management is often considered a key component sustainability in the hotel industry. Even simple steps like encouraging the recycling of guests’ trash can go a long way toward limiting a business’ carbon footprint and attracting more eco-conscious visitors. Repurposing items in good condition like furniture, supplies, and amenities may also benefit hotels and their surrounding communities. Donating gently used shampoos, bedding, and chairs can help those in need without creating additional waste. On a broader scale, it’s important for businesses to handle waste disposal responsibly, including the use of toxic chemicals that could go on to harm the environment.

Using Energy Responsibly

Energy use is often a hot topic across industries. In the hotel business, there are a lot of opportunities to waste energy. Guestroom energy usage takes up an estimated 40-80 percent of a hotel’s total energy consumption. However, hotels can become more energy efficient and cut down on costs. Mindfully booking sections of the hotel during lower occupation and installing motion-sensitive lights will ensure that only the necessary amount of energy is used, but may also apply to heating and air conditioning usage.

Staff practice plays a large role in energy usage as well – for example, does housekeeping keep  the hoover running for extended periods when they’re actually performing other tasks?  Are hobs in the kitchen burning all day, even when no one is cooking? Investing in low-energy appliances can go a long way toward limiting hotel energy consumption. This could also include cleaning practices that conserve water and electricity while still providing a tidy and hygienic atmosphere throughout a guest’s stay.

Encouraging sustainable practice in the hotel industry can aid both environmental and human health. Prioritising the health and experience of guests will lend to the success of your business, while also providing employees a safe place to work. Adopting more eco-friendly initiatives will not only benefit hotels financially, but contribute toward a greener, healthier planet for everyone.

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