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July 10, 2006 was an ordinary day for most of you but for Green Lodging News it was a very important day—the first day of publication. I am excited to celebrate Green Lodging News’ third birthday. It is hard to believe that so much time has gone by. Actually, Green Lodging News has been a four-year venture for me; it took a year of planning to get the publication up and running. Its success is the result of a lot of hard work and a lot of support from its readers and advertisers. Thank you to all of you for helping to make Green Lodging News a success!
Earth Day was a very important day this year for those in Canada’s tourism industry. It was on that day, April 22, that 36 industry leaders gathered in Toronto to form the Canadian Sustainable Tourism Advisory Council. Organized by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), the Council’s members represent every type of industry stakeholder: hotels, inns, universities, tourism commissions and associations, consultants, travel planners, and others.
I have heard and read quite a bit about what is or is not biodegradable in the past week. One reason is the article I wrote about utensils that are made from plant-based materials such as corn and potatoes. Another reason is an ad that ran recently in Green Lodging News that touted a product's biodegradability. What I learned is that you cannot truly feel good about buying a biodegradable product unless after its life you are 100 percent sure that it will be in an environment that will allow it to quickly biodegrade—an industrial composting facility, for example.
In case you did not catch the recent news, as part of the 2009 Florida Legislative Session, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was asked to submit plans to reduce expenditures by a minimum of 10 percent. (The DEP runs Florida’s very successful Green Lodging Program.) As it turns out, 10 percent was wishful thinking. The Florida Green Lodging Program was actually reduced in size from $337,000 and four workers to $63,000 and one employee. The two founders of the program have been reassigned. That’s right, just one person will be charged with managing a program that currently has 520 designated Green Lodging properties and a very long list of applicants.
Shawn Seipler and Paul Till are not hoteliers but they have just launched an organization that could do more good for humanity than just about anything any of us will ever do. Allow me to explain. Shawn, who travels a lot for his sales job, frequently stays in hotels. He began to wonder what happened to the unused bars of soap and shampoo bottles left behind after his visits. Shawn, who is based in Orlando, Fla., called his friend Paul in Houston and they decided to do a survey. Together they called about 30 properties and representatives of those hotels all told the two that they just throw the unused items away.
What to do with used vegetable oil is not at the top of my worry list. I don’t fry much of anything—and that is probably for good health reasons. What I have in my home amounts to a small container in the refrigerator—leftovers from some beignet making (thank you New Orleans). Most food service establishments, however, have to deal with large volumes of used fryer oil. In writing an article on fryer oil recycling this past week, I learned a little bit about all of the different ways inns, hotels and resorts are handling their vegetable oil “waste.”
Three states have added or soon will add green lodging certification programs. The Department of Environmental Protection in Connecticut and the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism just launched its program. The Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism is expected to roll out its program as early as the end of June. As reported here on Green Lodging News more than a week ago, the South Carolina Hospitality Association, in partnership with the Division of Waste Management of that state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control, is hammering out the final details of its green hotel and restaurant program. That self-certification program is expected to launch in July.
“In 15 years I will own the system free and clear. That is when I will really rake in the cash. Long term, it will be just fantastic.” I recently spoke with Mike Freed, managing partner of the Big Sur, Calif.-based Post Ranch Inn, and those were his words when describing his property’s recently launched 990-panel solar installation. When chatting with Mike, I wondered how many property owners would be patient enough to wait that long to enjoy all of the benefits of their investment. Not many, I suspect.
This past week I attended the Hospitality Design Expo & Conference in Las Vegas, including Green Day, which prefaced the main event. Attendance was down by more than 50 percent for Green Day, when compared to last year. One Hospitality Design representative told me attendance for the Expo & Conference, including exhibitors, was comparable to 2008.
Towels have a huge impact on the environmental footprint of our industry. It is difficult to imagine how many towels are purchased and thrown away each year. The number has got to be many millions. Most towels currently used are made from 100 percent cotton or some type of cotton/polyester blend. Polyester, of course, is a petroleum-based product.
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