You might have noticed the last time you checked into a hotel you found a little note in your room requesting that if you want to reuse your towels, to hang them up on the shower rod or if you wish fresh ones, to throw them into the bath tub to convey your request to the staff. Also, if you wish to have your bed sheets changed, there is a card on your night table that you can leave on your bed requesting to do so, otherwise they will just make your bed and not change the sheets. This is pretty standard in most hotels these days. Small changes that equate to big savings in water conservation and pollution. A typical guest room can produce 10 to 12 pounds of laundry per day, requiring over 30 gallons of water per guest room to wash laundry daily! (Found at http://www.greensuites.com/Environmentally-Friendly-Hotel-Programs/Project-Planet-Program)
You don’t have to be in a remote jungle eco tourist resort to experience the greening of travel. Whether you are on vacation or on a business trip, you are doing your part to help protect the environment.
Many major hotel groups have recognized the urgency of changing to more ‘green’ in-house operations. Another change is using more efficient lighting systems—from energy saving light bulbs to having your room lights and air conditioning go off when you leave your room. And the changes are not just in your room but other parts of the hotel that you don’t really see, like the kitchens. More efficient equipment like stoves, ovens and refrigeration units are used.
Another form of tourism that is changing for the better is Cruise Ships. According to treehugger.com, “…a typical cruise ship with 3,000 passengers generates 1 million gallons of gray water; 210,000 gallons of sewage; 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water; 100 gallons of hazardous or toxic waste; 50 tons of garbage and solid waste; and diesel exhaust emissions equal to thousands of cars on the road.” Impressive numbers by any standards! But, this industry too has started to take note and initiate changes, often spending thousands and even millions of dollars to upgrade ships to help keep the oceans cleaner.
One of the major cruise lines employing greener operations is Holland America Cruises. They have improved their energy efficiency and waste reduction by installing black water treatment systems; reducing 8 tons of waste generated each day by working with their supply chain; and not dumping waste overboard. They installed low-flow showerheads and faucets throughout the ship; now treat bilge water by two systems before discharge; converted to non-toxic, green cleaning supplies; replaced dry cleaning detergents with new detergents that are based on soy, banana and orange extracts; and added a system at each photo lab that can recover spent silver from the developing process and recycle it. Aside from new eco friendly equipment, they have a staff that is eco-educated and have environmental officers on board.
Other cruse lines that have made great improvements towards keeping the oceans clean are Celebrity Cruises-Solstice, Disney Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. They have all retrofitted their ships with equipment to save energy, like solar panels, and have minimized or recycled waste that these floating hotels with 3,000 plus passengers can generate each day.
So you don’t have to go to the Outback or the jungles of Central America to experience green tourism. You can if you wish, but it is comforting to know that the travel and vacation choices you make can be part of an environmentally conscious decision.