Green Certification: Focus Area 5 — Waste

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.

Furthermore, it costs you for the waste disposal. And society pays too because of decreased air and water quality associated with hauling the trash and the chemicals that leach into ground water; you ultimately pay for that too, just more subtly.

While I think reducing the amount of waste you bring in, and thus throw out, is the easiest environmental step to take, it’s not always easy. Try a few of these ideas to reduce your rubbish removal.

  • Make excess packaging an issue with your vendors, working out deals where they are responsible for waste removal of packaging.
  • Buy in bulk, reducing waste, and thus what your waste haulers take away.
  • Ask contractors, builders and maintenance people to recycle construction waste.
  • Compost both yard waste and kitchen vegetable matter. If you can’t do it directly, there is sure to be a gardener or farmer who will appreciate it.
  • Give your “junk” — those treasures and tired items you don’t want anymore — to charity.
  • Recycle. Glass, paper (office and newspaper), cardboard, metal, and some plastics are readily recycled in most communities (though as a resident of a rural area I know that’s not always true. Paperboard, batteries, toner cartridges
    , CFL, technology like computers and printers, expired meds — they are all variably recyclable/disposable, depending on where you live.
  • Avoid buying plastic containers as much as possible since it’s not as recyclable as metal and glass containers.
  • Buy bathroom toiletries and foods in bulk to reduce packaging waste, and save money.
  • Reuse items in as many ways as you can before your recycle, compost, or dispose of them.
  • Reduce your water and energy consumption, other areas of waste we don’t always think about.
  • Buy used furniture instead of new furniture

Waste reduction is an easy and excellent step toward the greening of your B&B inn. The yellow marks give you some ideas of where you can minimize waste in your operations.
Reduce Waste To Save Money And Green Your Inn

Go beyond the basics of waste reduction by thinking of other ways you can reduce your trash. Joining forces with other innkeepers and businesses could be part of your solution. Rethinking and refusing are other important steps in greening your inn.

To help sell you on the importance of waste reduction let me share a few facts I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Four pounds of trash/person/day is generated in the US.
  • A 16 ounce bottle of concentrate is the equivalent of 200 bottles of ready-to-use cleaner (via Green Seal).
  • Recycling glass uses 50 percent less energy than making virgin glass does.
  • Recycling one glass container saves enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours
  • Recycling glass generates 20 percent less air pollution ad 50 percent less water pollution than making virgin glass.
  • Recycling aluminum consumes 95 percent less energy than making virgin aluminum.
  • One recycled aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours.
  • It takes 500,000 trees to make Sunday papers across the US. 88 percent of newspapers are never recycled.
  • Packaging accounts for fifty percent of all paper produced in North America, 90 percent of all glass, and 11 percent of all aluminum.
  • 24M tons of leaves and grass clippings are disposed of annually, instead of being composted which conserves landfill space. (1996 Environmental Defense Fund) That also improves air and water quality, and improves soil for better nutrition and water holding capability.

Spending less money is an important goal of any innkeeper. Conserving natural resources by reducing waste makes a difference to your budget too. A heightened awareness of how much money you are throwing away should help you find new ways of running your B&B inn.

You can use the article Eight Areas of Focus For Green Certification as the index to access all eight green certification articles.