As a B&B innkeeper, what do you do to help protect the environment? What green actions do you take? Recycling, reducing consumption, composting, energy and water conservation, CFLs and natural daylighting, and avoiding pesticides are among the things innkeepers undertake. However, steps like home renovations or utility upgrades to be more environmentally conscious may seem financially out of reach to the average bed and breakfast. Ah, that’s where green mortgages come into your life.
What you don’t see won’t hurt you, right? Well, not necessarily. Air quality is one such situation where what you don’t see can definitely hurt you. Indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air!
Food is half of what your bed and breakfast promises. It seems to me it should be an excellent offering, with you providing the best food you can. That means fresh, local, organic ingredients cooked into delicious, nutritious recipes. Your food, simple or elaborate, should make people yearn for more.
To simplify the question of how one greens their life and business, maybe it can be reduced to the simple concept of how you buy — your buying patterns. The less you buy the fewer resources you consume, or throw away. But what does that really mean, and how can you do that throughout the B&B?
Disposing of waste is like throwing money away. The price of the products you buy includes the cost of packaging. The excess packaging so many products have today is a big source of waste, and an easy waste reduction step to take.
The building(s) you house your bed and breakfast operations in is the foundation of your environmental program. Though making an existing building more environmentally friendly can be expensive and feel like a daunting task, if it’s done bit at a time it’s doable. And the payoffs are generally commensurate with the effort and expense.
Water conservation is possibly one of the least addressed conservation matters I see. To me, water is our biggest environmental and life issue. Without accessible, clean water we have nothing. Clean drinking water is vital to life. Clean water is important in many other areas of life.
Energy conservation is one of the most popular “green” activities people and businesses like to participate in. It’s possibly the most visible green actions you can take. And it’s relatively easy to do, at least most of the time.
Better living through chemistry is an advertising rhyme, and social statement. It’s gone too far.
For B&Bs wanting to be greener, and possibly get green certified, there are generally eight areas for innkeepers to focus. This is one article in a multi-part series on green certification.
The first steps you take toward green operations and green certification go together.
- start with expanding our attitude and knowledge
- baseline your existing usage of energy, water, waste and chemicals
- get staff, vendors and guests involved
- write your green/sustainability plan and policy
- track usage in action areas
- plan your marketing program, including not raising your rates just because you are “green”
- develop education programs for staff, vendor, guests and public
Should a bed and breakfast go through a green certification process or not? I can, and have, argued both sides of that question.
Several of my consulting jobs have revolved around the volatile subject of housekeeping. I’m combining several discussions about cleaning and housekeeping for this article.
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.
>How environmentally active are you in your daily life? Do you take your green habits on the road with you?
How environmentally sensitive are you in your daily life? Do you recycle? Is organic food at least part of your diet? What about resource conservation — with energy and water? There may be even more ways you can be environmentally active.
Last year I reported on the joys of 100-percent bamboo sheets and met with curiosity and interest. Here a year (and now ten years) later I’m still loving them. My bamboo sheets are all I’ve used during the past year to give them a hard test, and they still look great.
At the same time I bought bamboo sheets I bought natural-fiber and -color (no dyes) towels. What is natural fiber? Fabric made of plant cellulose instead of synthetic fibers.
One hotel issue that’s been important to me for years is the use of bulk bathroom amenities. By using quality shampoo, bath gel, conditioner and even lotions in bulk dispensers you not only take care of your guests — your primary responsibility — but also you take care of your budget and the environment. What a great win-win all the way around!
There is so much going on with the greening of the hospitality these days I am both energized and overwhelmed. It’s great! Take a look at Green Lodging News this week to see me profiled — it’s always a kick to see your name in “print”. This is a great weekly ezine promoting the greening of the hotel industry. Subscribe if you have any interest in expanding your environmental or hospitality knowledge.
During the Greening of Hospitality Industry conference (GMIC) I attendend in Portland, OR, in February (2007), I was introduced to several high-end hotel properties that are stepping up to being environmentally sound hotels and adopting energy conservation as one of the actions they are taking to preserve the environment, and their budgets.
I have stood on my soap box for years talking about the wisdom of running a green B&B. I’ve been asked several times to review how much money is saved by conserving water and energy, only two of the resources I urge innkeepers to conserve. Here is a list of statistics about the actual resource savings for you to apply your water and energy rates to for coming up with how much you will save by implementing an environmentally friendly operations program.
I just mentioned under Daily Operations that I had discovered the joys of bamboo sheets. You can read my review about them at in the article section of The B&B Lady.
While attending a bed and breakfast conference recently, I visited Inn Style in the vendor section. Initially I only wanted to find out whether they were carrying any organic cotton sheets and towels. But I so quickly got side-tracked with other wonderful discoveries that I forgot to pursue my original question. What was so exciting as to get me off track? Bamboo sheets. 100% bamboo fiber sheets, not a
There are so many ways to save money in your bed and breakfast without hurting your customer service or hospitality. One goal of developing a hospitality business is to provide the maximum customer service and hospitality while not wasting money. Some money-saving approaches are also environmentally friendly. It’s time to give thought to implementing one in specific: a towel/sheet reuse program.
Your marketing materials, which at the very least include your website and brochure, are the avenue to tell prospective guests what experience they will have while staying at your inn. Those marketing avenues also give you a way to communicate your guest amenities, rules, contact information, and other important facts about your B&B business.
[Taken from a conversation on the old forum:]
Maybe you “green” folks know this one but it was new to me so I’m sharing.
Our oven was getting cleaned today with Easy Off oven cleaner and somehow the person cleaning it didn’t notice the grease/Easy Off mixture dripping onto a spot on the floor not protected by newspaper.
This is an email conversation between Sage Blossom Consulting and The Gillum House B&B, after the Gillum House innkeeper added them to Best Green Hotels:
In response to the question of “how do you handle your newspaper distribution — do you leave on at each guestroom door or have a common one for everyone to share ….”
The most successful inns establish a specific market niche and work tirelessly to ensure all aspects of running it reflect that niche.
Meeting rooms and conference centers are a common additional revenue source for hotels; they could be for B&Bs too. Regardless of your property’s size, having separate space for a meeting or conference is a smart move. Consider, while you are developing your conference center space, creating a green environment and practice for that space. If you already have a meeting room, that could be a great place to begin sustainable practices.
There was a time I could sleep well anywhere, any time. As I “matured”, my sleeping needs matured as well. I have migrated from thinking that one bed is like any other bed to understanding that bed quality, construction, and materials matter greatly in providing a good night’s sleep. Upscale property owners and managers have known that for a long time. Paying guests understand it too and vote with their dollar. Your challenge is finding the balance that will satisfy the biggest majority of your guests.
The bed pad is the first step in making a great sleeping surface for you guests.
In October, I travelled to Budapest, Hungary, to be initiated as a new member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants. This is a group of senior independent consultants, working in various and diverse areas of the hospitality field. The members work worldwide and represent countries in all corners of the globe.
Have you ever wondered about B&B innkeeping and waste? I’ll tell you that my environmental heart was tugged at daily by the amount of waste I perceived in running my B&B. Now, I managed an inn 12 years ago and technology has come a long way since then, but there were still a few things I could do even “back then” to help minimize waste.