Single-Use Plastics And Beyond

Transcript of Article Published for Hotel Industry News

California Hotel & Lodging Association, March 26th, 2019

Protecting the Environment: Single-Use Plastics and Beyond

By Christine Keener

2018 certainly had its share of socio-economic, political, and environmental issues. Among them has been a rise in awareness of the environmental effects of single-use plastics on our oceans and marine life. In fact, “single-use” was named Collins Dictionary’s 2018 Word of the Year. More than 8 million tons of plastics ends up in our oceans annually and half of that is comprised of single use plastics.1 Efforts to reduce and in some cases eliminate single use plastics is gaining momentum. Corporations are responding with bans on plastic straws and other single-use plastics.

Studies show that travelers are increasingly making conscious choices to lower their impact on the environment, and actively seeking out eco-friendly accommodations and travel experiences.

According to, 87% of global travelers say they want to travel sustainably, and for 46% of travelers this means staying in eco-friendly or green accommodations.2 More than half think recycling, energy-saving design, and waste reduction are important environmentally-friendly practices for hotels3. Some even applaud and promote hotels that they see taking steps to be more eco-friendly and shame those they deem harmful to the environment on social media, urging others to do the same. Considering the rise in numbers of eco-conscious travelers (not to mention the opportunity to actually make a difference), it is beneficial to consider ways to operate with sustainability in mind.

There are indeed many ways to implement environmentally conscientious operating policies. Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:

  • Evaluate your waste management and recycling procedures. Determine items that can be reused. Properly prepare recyclable items and install recycling bins. Provide incentives for employees to submit waste saving ideas.
  • Consider solar energy. Although installation of solar panels can be costly upfront, the savings on energy bills can be significant over time.
  • Look into partnering with organizations such as Clean the World, which provides a recycling program for hotel amenity bottles, or using refillable bottles and dispensers.
  • Consider plastic straw alternatives, such as bamboo or stainless steel.
  • Ditch plastic bottled water distribution in favor of refillable glass or aluminum containers and provide convenient refilling stations.
  • Use biodegradable waste bags and cutlery, and switch to linen or cotton laundry bags.

Ideally, steps taken to be more eco-friendly should be as comprehensive as possible. A hotel that replaces bath towels only upon request to reduce water consumption is viewed with suspicion if it also loads the bathroom with single-use plastic amenity bottles. A single well-intentioned step in the right direction may be interpreted as merely a way to save the hotel money, rather than to truly address environmental concerns.

Because travelers can be skeptical of eco-friendly claims, seek partnerships with environmental organizations and/or certifications from reputable organizations (such as Green Seal, Green Key, or LEED). Get your staff on board, and by all means let your guests know what you’re doing to protect the environment.


  1. Plastic Oceans Foundation:
  2. Sustainable Travel Report, April 2018
  3. Statista Survey, “Most popular environmentally-friendly hotel practices by U.S. residents 2017”, April 2017


Christine Keener is the owner/operator of Artanis Home ( which creates custom refillable plastic and glass amenity bottles.