Going carbon neutral: “The very first steps cost absolutely nothing”

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Going carbon neutral: "The first steps cost absolutely nothing"

[Credit: Patrick Schneider on Unsplash]

Hamish Sherlock, head of Fifty Shades Greener in the UK, outlines some top strategies for hospitality businesses to become carbon neutral and sustainable.

Sustainability and green tourism is on an upward trend and tourists are starting to look closer at the credentials of their chosen accommodation providers. They want to see that efforts are being made to be greener. 

We can see this shift outside of the sector too, with local household brands moving away from single-use plastics; there are even package-free shops popping-up all over the country. We’re moving away from a throwaway culture and shifting towards a society that rejects single-use items and wants products that are built to last.

Slowly the country is starting to wake-up and take climate change seriously and with COP26 being held in Glasgow later this year; there is a real spotlight on the UK’s green efforts. Millennials and now Generation Z are starting to demand more from their hotels too and this is not just a fad, this will continue.

Over the past 12 months we have witnessed a massive increase in demand for green training. We have worked with more than 200 businesses in the sector over the past year and not only have they taken a step closer to carbon neutrality, they have been making big savings along the way. 

Many people falsely believe it costs a lot of money to become green, but in reality, the very first steps cost absolutely nothing; it’s all about changing behaviour and getting into the right mind set. 

Tip 1: Many hands make work lighter

The very first step for a successful green journey is to appoint a green manager and a green team. The green manager can be someone already working at the property and not necessarily a head of department. The most important thing is that they are allowed to work in between a half day to one full day a week on the green programme.

Tip 2: If you don’t measure you cannot manage

Measuring your business impact on the environment is easier than you think; all you need is your utility bills! Measuring your green key performance indicators (energy, waste and water usage) will allow you to calculate your carbon emissions. Once you have set your baseline, you can start working towards a reduction of your footprint.

Tip 3: Our own behaviour matters

Your goal is to reduce your business impact on the environment. You can achieve this by reducing your energy, water use and waste production by simply changing your team’s behaviour around the use of those resources, to become more efficient in your daily operations.

Let’s take a 100-room hotel for example. If the team understands how to measure carbon emissions the hotel can save on average £25,000 per year. Awareness of food waste management can save another £5,000 on average. Even simple things like ensuring all staff turn off lights in unused rooms or close doors can save £2,500. If you fine-tune the water and heating units you’re looking at a potential further saving of £4,000. It’s really significant savings for simple behavioural changes.

Tip 4: Transparency is key

Never claim you do more than you do; be clear and transparent about your green journey. Publish your green KPIs on your website and social channels, and let your customers, team and stakeholders know the plans you have to reduce your carbon emissions.

Tip 5: A policy without a plan is just words written on a piece of paper

Be clear on your goals and targets and devise an environmental action plan to achieve them. Without an action plan, your environmental policy is worthless.

Fifty Shades Greener has been appointed the official housing provider for COP26, MCI Global, and The Greater Glasgow Hotel Association, to help change the future of hotels in Glasgow and all over Scotland for COP26 and beyond. 

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