Are you a hotelier looking to go green? Hotels in today’s world must consider more sustainable methods of operating as one of the most important ways to improve brand perception, reduce operating costs, and to help minimize their impact on the environment. However, actions should not be taken just for the sake of “greenwashing,” but rather to be a part of the change towards a more sustainable future.

Going green is more than a buzzword, but rather a way for the hospitality industry to mitigate the effects that it has on greenhouse emissions, water use, and to optimize waste management practices. In this article we will discuss why going green is so important in the hospitality industry and give tips for the top most sustainable practices for hotels. 

If you want to know more about this topic, you may want to read: best sustainability trends and initiatives for hotels.

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Why is going green important for hotels?

According to the sustainable travel organization, tourism is responsible for approximately 8% of the world’s carbon emissions, with lodging alone accounting to 6% of the world’s emissions. This is why going green is fundamental for the future of the hospitality industry. 

Hotels represent an important contribution to CO2 emissions due to the heavy use of water, heating, laundry, electricity and all the comforts that go into providing an amenable experience for their guests but at the cost of the environment. This is especially the case in resorts and big hotels that offer more services. 

Moving towards more sustainable practices is key to minimize consumption of resources and waste. Going green can not only help improve the environment but also increase brand loyalty, save money and reduce your hotel’s environmental impact.

12 best hotel ideas to go green

Now that we’ve understood why going green is so important for hotels, let’s look at 12 of the best sustainability ideas for hotels to go green.

Educate your staff

Think of your staff as your green ambassadors. They are the ones that have direct contact with the guests and can help guide guests to make more sustainable choices like recycling, choosing to not replace towels daily, and turning off the lights and thermostat when they’re not in the room. 

Involve them in making decisions on how to make your hotel greener, and they will be more likely to apply these practices to their everyday lives, which will have a ripple effect on the environment. Sustainability starts from the inside out and empowering your staff to make choices like using cleaning products that are less harmful to the environment, choosing to only print when necessary, or giving them an incentive to take public transportation will make a positive change. 

Refillable water

One of the easiest sustainable decisions is when it comes to drinking water. Think of the millions of plastic bottles that are used daily in hotels. This can be easily resolved by having water dispensers throughout your hotel with glasses or you can even think about giving refillable water bottles to guests who book longer stays. These water bottles will also be a great marketing tool for your hotel.

Replace towels and bed linens less frequently for long stays

Hotels for a long time have implemented the rule where guests who don’t want their towels replaced can hang them, and those they want replaced can be left on the floor. But what about if you implemented the same for bed linens? Normally bed linens need to be replaced every few days but with the consent of guests you can go a few days longer and save huge on water usage.

Incentivize alternative means of transportation

Incentivizing alternative means of transportation can apply to both guests and employees. For example, you may consider installing electric car chargers so that guests who drive EVs can have a place to plug in. Also consider bike parking, or running a shuttle that has regular pick up times at the airport to minimize going back and forth. You may also consider awarding your employees with tax-free money for those who use public transportation to get to work. 

how to go green hotel

Choose sustainable decoration and furniture

Instead of purchasing decorational items and furniture from big distributors who most likely are not very conscious about their manufacturing decisions, think about purchasing locally. Buying locally cuts down on transportation emissions, and at the same time allows you to support the local economy. You may even consider purchasing vintage furniture or furniture made from refurbished wood instead of plastic or unsustainable materials.

Automate and optimize electricity usage

Automating electricity or water usage can be about standard practices of having the card key that controls all the lights and electricity, which is an easy fix to prevent electricity and resources from being wasted. You can switch traditional light bulbs for LED lights which last longer and are more environmentally friendly. 

Other solutions are having thermostats or sensors which go off when the rooms are occupied to control AC and heating temperatures. Another tech solution could be having an app where guests can control their own settings.

Control water usage

Smart showers can be another choice to limit the time for showers where guests will receive an alert when their time is almost up. Implement low flush or dual flush toilets to cut down on water usage. Choose washing machines that minimize water use and conserve energy. Find out about other ways to use technology to help save the environment. 

Reduce food waste

Food waste is another big problem in the hotel industry. To reduce food waste, get rid of buffet breakfast and have a set breakfast so you can make food purchasing choices based on occupancy. For food that goes bad or goes uneaten, make sure to have composting set up. This compost can then be used to nurture your hotel’s plants and generate a more circular ecosystem for your hotel.


Recycling is one of the most obvious sustainable choices for hotels. Instead of having just one bin in the rooms, have one for paper, plastic and general waste. While people are not used to recycling when they go on vacation, they’re more likely to recycle if the bins are there. Recycling doesn’t only apply to waste, but also can apply to towels and bed linens. Instead of throwing away holey or stained bed linens and towels, use them as rags for cleaning rooms. 

Implement more efficient operations

Use a property management system to help you implement more efficient operations which will save you money and resources. By using Mews’ integrated system to operate more efficiently, you will save money on overstaffing, and automate services like check-in and check-out with a check-in kiosk. This will not only help reduce the amount of emissions generated by your staff traveling to work, but also make your hotel more paperless by following a more digitized guest journey. 

Apply green thinking to all choices

Thinking green can be applied to all kinds of decisions around your hotel. Whether that’s choosing a more sustainable paint, choosing green cleaning products, or buying plan-based, non-chemical soap and shampoo, there are many ways to be greener. This can even translate into choosing green certified appliances or buying biodegradable bags and other materials.

Doors and windows

Replacing windows and doors that don’t isolate from heat or cold will help reduce the amount of energy you will need to use to keep the hotel at a pleasant temperature. Think about planting shady trees by the hotel to keep the structure cool in the summer, and maximize use of windows in sunny spots to trap the sun’s heat during cold winter days.


Going green starts by implementing the low hanging fruits first, whether that be a place to refill water bottles, put recycling bins throughout the hotel and compost. Whatever you identify as the easy wins, will help start your hotel on its journey towards going green. This will help not only with your brand’s reputation but also help motivate guests who are sustainably minded to choose your property over the competition.

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Want to do more? The Green Hotel of the Future is our guide to going green, helping you to incorporate sustainability throughout your property.