Home Green Design A Hotelier’s Guide to Sustainable Textile Specification

A Hotelier’s Guide to Sustainable Textile Specification

Leo Novik

Hoteliers and their partners shape the vision of their hotels—the interiors, the food and beverage spaces, the theme and the list goes on. Their mission focuses on creating a unique and thoughtful destination that provides guests with personalized experiences no matter where in the world the property is located. With many hoteliers hopping on the green movement bandwagon over the past five to 10 years, the choices hoteliers and interior designers make when they select products have been shifting—big hotel brands are actively seeking a greener approach in every aspect of their properties.

One easy eco-conscious decision hoteliers and designers can make are the textiles they choose for a property. Although, there is a seemingly endless array of options, selecting an appropriate material for a specific setting, say the lobby or the guestroom, can be quite a laborious process. Aesthetics and budget will naturally influence a hotelier’s selection, but there are many other important considerations. A few things we believe to be of great importance is questioning the composition of the textile, asking whether the product is sustainable, and inquiring about how long the product will take to decompose.

Eco-friendly textiles have been around for years; however, there is a different definition of what a sustainable material is exactly. At Fil Doux Textiles, to label a product as sustainable, we believe it must degrade, and return the natural elements that comprise it. We believe now is the time for hoteliers to stretch their understanding of an environmentally friendly material as the word “recyclable” has morphed into a buzz word that many believe is linked with sustainability, but that’s not the case. In fact the recycling process is quite time-consuming and expensive, and can actually require more natural resources, such as water.

As a textile manufacturing company, we understand that specifying textiles for high-traffic settings, including hotels, cruise liners, and large resorts, the claims of durability, sustainability, and ease of maintenance can be confusing. However, by asking the right questions from the start, hoteliers and other project decision makers can simplify this process and join the movement to a more sustainable future. To get these conversations started, here is a list of our top considerations we believe every hotelier and their partners should be thinking about when specifying textiles for their next project.

5 Things to Consider When Specifying Textiles & Upholstery 

  • Take the Time to Do Your Research: There are many big textile brands producing eco-friendly products; however, it is important that hoteliers understand the brand’s manufacturing process being implemented. When a specific brand is chosen by the hotel’s designer, they should know exactly what makes the product sustainable—its composition, what manufacturing processes were used to create the product, and the best way to discard the product. There needs to be an open dialogue between the sales representative and the designer who is specifying the product for the project. We have found many of our clients are surprised at how little of an effort many of these big textile companies put into production when it comes to sustainability—how this product will affect the environment needs to be top of mind.
  • Manufacturers and Corporate Responsibility: Before purchasing a sustainable material, hoteliers and their partners should question: Does this company’s product go above and beyond to preserve the environment? Corporate social responsibility is a high indicator of just how much a company cares about the world around them. For example, we know of many manufacturers, including ourselves, who have partnered with nonprofit organizations such as One Tree Planted, 1% for the Planet and Textile Exchange—all of which require the manufacturer to pledge a portion of their annual sales to environmental causes.
  • It is Worth the Cost: Due to budget constraints, many hotel decision makers ask themselves, “Is incorporating this sustainable product worth the cost?” The answer is a bit tricky—yes, to craft a sustainable product it typically will cost more to make product with a sustainable manufacturing process in place; however, the ROI from sustainable products surpasses those that are not. One example is Fil Doux Textiles’ Otratex, which will fully decompose within 30 years when placed in an anaerobic environment such as a landfill—there is no additional cost to the discarding of the material. Now is the time for hoteliers to reconsider their budgets, and incorporate cost-saving, sustainable products, just as we do in our everyday lives. Think about how we are already using aluminum reusable water bottles rather than plastic ones and how we are buying high-efficiency washing machines or low-flow bathroom products that save water.
  • Meeting the Needs of Eco-Conscious Travelers: Consumers are becoming more aware of how important it is to protect the environment, and this includes hotel guests. This movement, although driven by millennials’ expectations to stay in a green hotel, is here to stay. Having a green certification allows hotels to draw these ecologically minded guests to their locations. This can help differentiate the brand from less eco-friendly properties. By going green, hoteliers can get their hotel on the map, engaging with and attracting groups that they might not have had access to otherwise. This, in turn, helps to grow brand recognition and spread the good word about the property, its staff, and its owners caring about the world we live in.
  • Getting on the Sustainability Wagon: One thing as a textile manufacturer that I hope for is that every designer, hotelier, and professional in our industry understands is that there are many sustainable material options out there and there is a great need to incorporate them into our spaces and properties. This not only includes textiles, but also several other materials that go into the hotel and in the building of it. By using sustainable, eco-friendly products, a real difference can be made by everyone—think of this as passing on a legacy. We want our children to have a greener planet, and we believe asking just a few simple questions when selecting what products to specify can lead us all to a less polluted future.

The main question we as members of the hospitality industry need to ask ourselves is, “What can I do and what are the options to help make my project greener?” If we as humans do not change our thinking and way of consuming, we will be failing our planet’s future. We all play a key role in our world’s future and we all need to do our part to make a difference. Incorporating more sustainable products including textiles into the destinations we sleep, eat, and relax in is just one way to move forward on this path to a truly sustainable world.

About the Author

Leo Novik is the CEO and Founder of Fil Doux Textiles. Fil Doux Textiles, headquartered in Brooklyn, New York’s Gowanus neighborhood, produces mill-direct, timeless, luxurious upholstery and Otratex for the hospitality, cruise, and contract industries. Founded nearly 80 years ago, the family-owned mills, led by fourth-generation textile expert Leonardo Novik, prides itself on a continued commitment to sustainability, touch, tradition, and quality. Fil Doux Textiles is an industry disruptor—always introducing game-changing, proprietary new products to the market, including the first-ever degradable vinyl alternative, Otratex—The Conscious Choice, and Pro-Tech, a powerful water-based ink and denim protectant. With the environment always top-of-mind, Fil Doux Textiles upholds significant environmental standards, using wind and solar power, recycling dye water, and reusing fabric for its packaging. To learn more, visit fildoux.com and otratex.com.