“Greening” Your Travels

As we embark on spring break season our post on eco-friendly vacation amenities couldn't come at a better time. Many of us, such as myself, book their airfare and then look for the most reasonable hotel when planning a trip. We do not look into what eco-friendly amenities might be offered, since we are only worried about a safe hotel and a clean room. 

If you have traveled recently you may have noticed a note in the room stating that the hotel is saving water and resources by reusing towels and etc., but that’s not the eco-friendly standard that I am referring to. I am referring to the hotels that go out of their way to eliminate waste, charge electric cars, power down rooms and replant forests. Sure most of these items that I am talking about are not offered at your run of the mill hotels, but they are a reality.

In our day to day lives we try to make conscious changes to our life and or environment, but when we travel we throw caution to the wind. We don't think about how we lodge on vacation can change weather patterns and or affect the Ozone layer. [i] I know this may sound dramatic and doom and gloom, but it is the truth. When we stay at hotels we are offered plastic water bottles and we do not think twice about leaving on a light.

Water bottles have become a modern staple in most hotel rooms, since it is convenient. But, those convenient items have a pretty big environmental impact once they are discarded. Statistics show that more than 4 billion bottles end up in landfills and less than 20% of those are actually recycled. [ii] So to be more green hotels today are starting to offer aluminum water bottles that can be refilled at water stations and others are even offering “hydration stations” for their hotel guests.

When leaving hotel rooms we seem to forget and leave every possible light on. But, when we come back and notice we do not feel guilty, since we don’t pay the electric bill. It’s true we don’t pay the electric bill, but we do pay the price of generating that electricity. One hotel in Syracuse, New York cuts the flow of energy to guests’ rooms once they leave, but in case someone stays behind in the room the hotel leaves two outlets powered. This event is triggered by a key card energy management system. One such system is called ENTERgize. In the words of the company this system works by, “guests inserting their key card into the door lock to gain access to the room, once inside the room they perform an operation similar to entering the room by inserting their room key card into the illuminated Entergize Master Control Switch (MCS). As soon as the card is inserted and left in the master switch, the system automatically places itself in the “Occupied” mode. This causes the HVAC system to shift from economy to comfort settings and to promptly begin to heat or cool the room according to the guest’s desires.”[iii] 

Though this article highlights features that might seem too far-fetched for most chain hotels, but it is a growing trend. Next time you plan or take a trip keep your eyes peeled for eco-friendly amenities.

[i] “A Hotelier’s Take on Edo-Friendly Rooms,”Mar., 5, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/08/travel/a-hoteliers-take-on-eco-friendly-rooms.html
[iii] “Patented Entergize Key Card Technology,” Mar., 5, 2015, http://www.entergize.com/keycardsystems.html