Sustainably Tourism

A holistic approach to plastic-free hotel operations

Taking Action Against Single-use Plastics: A 3-Step Guide for Hotels

Sustainable Tourism

Taking action against single-use plastics has emerged as a crucial goal for many hotels and tour companies. ESG has been flagged as one of the top priorities for the tourism industry in 2023, so as we approach mid-year, it’s more urgent than ever to get started. PFSEA has been at the forefront of the mindset shift and behaviour change required to help businesses make a change without feeling overwhelmed. In this post, we will delve into three essential aspects of tackling single-use plastics:

– finding a starting point
– implementing goals effectively
– dispelling the myth of needing everything figured out before taking action.

  1. Finding a Starting Point:

One of the most common challenges is knowing where to begin the journey towards reducing single-use plastics. When you start to look at plastics and notice how much there really is… it can feel overwhelming and impossible. When you’re managing a busy hotel (especially navigating the return from the grinding halt during the start of the pandemic when single-use was seen as safer), it can seem daunting. 

When you focus on the top five most used and harmful single-use plastics, you create a clear goal that serves as a launching point for change. These plastics: plastic bags, straws, bottles, coffee cups and takeaway containers, are extremely common in our daily lives and contribute significantly to environmental pollution. By starting with these items, you can make visible progress and pave the way for further sustainable actions.

You might break it down by reviewing your hotel rooms, restaurants, spas and back of house areas, including staff canteen or break room and get a clear view on what’s currently being used.

Action Tip 1: Conduct a Plastic Audit

Start by assessing your business’s current usage of single-use plastics. Involve your whole team – it’s a really illuminating activity. Try one week of separating each kind of plastic waste and keeping it to see how it accumulates throughout the week. 

You might want to break it down by reviewing your hotel rooms, restaurants, spas and back of house areas, including staff canteen or break room and get a clear view on what’s currently being used.

Identify the top five most used items and talk about their impact on the environment together. This audit will provide a baseline for measuring progress and guide your efforts towards meaningful change. (Bonus: keep a log in an spreadsheet or on a whiteboard that everyone can see)

  1. Implementing Goals Effectively:

Setting goals is important and ensuring their implementation is essential. You might already have a framework or policies in place, however without clear steps, ownership and dates to stick to, you might find that enthusiasm can rapidly disappear.

Action Tip 2: Staff Training and Engagement 

Train your staff on the ‘why’ behind reducing single-use plastics and provide them with the knowledge and tools necessary to implement sustainable practices. Simply telling staff what to do, or swapping out plastic for an alternative single-use product, will only get you so far. When they understand why it’s important, they’ll be able to help you really reduce your impact.

Encourage their active involvement and empower them to champion sustainability initiatives within their respective roles. By fostering a culture of sustainability among your staff, you’ll find that they’ll be proud of their work, be able to communicate clearly with suppliers and guests and will even take these practices into their personal lives.

  1. Dispel the Myth: You Don’t Need Everything Figured Out Before You Begin

This one I see ALL the time and it pains me because I know how it feels to try and work everything out alone. Often, businesses hesitate to take action against single-use plastics because they feel they must have all the answers before starting or that it needs to be PERFECT. It doesn’t and you don’t . It’s so much more empowering to understand that embarking on a sustainability journey is a learning process. You don’t need to have every detail meticulously planned to make a positive impact.

Action Tip 3: Embrace a Growth Mindset 

Understand that mistakes and challenges are part of the process. By adopting a growth mindset, you allow yourself and your business to learn, adapt and improve along the way. Start with what you know and build upon it. Seek guidance from experts, collaborate with other businesses, and remain open to new ideas and approaches. Taking the first step is often the hardest, but once you do, you’ll gain momentum and discover new possibilities and the sense of reward and price is one that will make you wish you’d started sooner. Check out this great video from one the Hotel GM from a previous training program.

Change is a process, and by taking action today, you are contributing to a more sustainable future for all. It doesn’t have to be perfect from the word go, but it won’t happen by magic either. By engaging your team, speaking with confidence to suppliers and guests and embracing a continual improvement model, you’ll be sure to impress your guests, staff and peers! 

You don’t have to do it alone, get in touch or check out our Services to get support implementing sustainability in your hotel or tour company.

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