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Can hospitality incorporate sustainable practices, without being forced to comply?

Updated: Oct 29, 2022

The classic view is that environmentally friendly practices are perceived by guests to be “cheaping out” - the opposite of luxury.

As I write, I’m looking out of a third-floor window in a US hotel that seems to be stuck in another era. Janitors are erecting a mound of clear garbage bags full of single-use items including nearly full rolls of toilet paper and complimentary slippers used only once, all in full view of their guests. The only thing unusual about this practice is that they let their guests see their trash.

Each year as Earth Day approaches, companies recommit to lofty environmental values, but often without a strategy or an action plan to achieve any significant or lasting change. Regulators are taking notice.

In early March 2022, 175 nations agreed to begin writing a global treaty that would restrict the explosive growth of plastic pollution. The agreement commits nations to work on a legally binding treaty to improve recycling, clean up the world’s plastic waste, and impose curbs on plastics production. Measures to ban single-use plastics would logically follow.

At the same time, companies have stepped up their efforts to reduce food waste significantly.

These goals aren’t as opposed as they might seem at first, but care should be given to message the goals right, ensure good practices are in place, and the best community partners have chosen to ensure effective strategies are executed well.

Customers are taking notice, too. Today’s travelers, restaurant patrons, and shoppers care about sustainability. Millennials and Generation Z will pay more for products and services that don’t harm the environment.

According to a recent Nielson study, nearly 75% of the respondents from younger generations are willing to spend thier dollars in support of sustainable products and services.

What’s ironic is that most consumers will pay more, yet most environmentally conscious actions save operators money. Improving your environmental profile with a clear and consistent strategy, then, should have a very positive effect on your bottom line.

On this Earth Day, consider what you want to report to your stakeholders next year. Imagine telling your board and employees that you used significantly fewer natural resources, supported your brand identification and competitive positioning, saved money, and had the metrics to prove it. In this scenario, Mother Earth wins, and you do too.

Where to begin? We're happy to support you with Sustainability Simplified©.


Helene York is an environmental and sustainability supply chain expert, adding her talents in strategic sourcing on a global level to 4xi's capabilities.

To learn more about Helene download her BIO, or you can contact Helene directly at


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Great points made on and about consumer awareness and GenZ/Millennial's willingness to spend more knowing they are making a positive environmental impact in doing so. Also, as more financial institutions are using ESG criteria in investment operating decisions, to maintain an enlarged range of financing options growing companies must engage best ESG practices.

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