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Consider a Product’s End of Life When Making Purchasing Decisions

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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. 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.

When a supplier promotes the biodegradability of a product, question them on it. What exactly does biodegradable mean to them? How many days or years will it take for the item to biodegrade? Under what conditions? In a landfill? In a well tended compost facility? In a wet environment? Desert conditions? Has their product been tested by a reputable third party for its ability to biodegrade? Let’s face it, everything biodegrades—over time.

If purchasing items such as utensils, cups, plates, amenity containers and other items that are 100 percent biodegradable is important to you, be sure you have a process in place to divert them from the landfill at the end of their life. If your local community does not have a composting program, explore the possibility of starting your own. There is a wealth of information online to help you. There are even machines available that help accelerate the composting process. (See article.) You can accelerate the disintegration of any biodegradable item by reducing its size—through shredding, crushing, etc.

If biodegradability and composting are not yet a part of your purchasing decision making, it should be. Next summer in Seattle, for example, a ban will take effect that will require all food service businesses to purchase biodegradable packaging and disposables instead of traditional ones made out of plastic. Whether required to do so or not, try to do what is right for the environment. (Click here for another helpful article.)

Readers Respond to Last Week’s Column

Last week’s column (click here to read it) about the budget cuts in Florida’s Green Lodging program prompted some responses. Here is an excerpt from one note: “The pay to play suggestion worries me a little. The great thing about true state programs is that they are transparent, locally focused, offer terrific networking, and are generally free. If they start charging it may eliminate some inns/B&Bs or small hotels from joining…certainly associations—which charge modest per room fees—are seeing people leave due to challenged times. It also adds the question of conflict of interest that any paid award or certification has built in.”

Another reader wrote: “As the first lodging establishment in the Florida Keys to have received their Green Lodging “One Palm” and “Two Palm” designations, we are certainly worried about the future of the program. I would absolutely support a “pay to play” program that is reasonably priced upon some basis. I believe that integrity in the program is most important. Being the first, we had to fight hard to get our designation and continually strive to make improvements.”

Can You Help This Reader?

Barbara Sheff, owner of the 10-room Candleshop Inn in York Beach, Maine, wrote with the following concern: “I want to clean with something other than a bleach product. What do you suggest as a universal cleaning agent that will kill HIV, Hep B, other blood bourne pathogens and bacteria? I come from a microbiology and nursing background and worry about the health and safety of my guests while they are in my home.” Write to stay@candleshopinn.com.

Green Lodging News Welcomes Ecoflame as Directory Partner

Green Lodging News welcomes Ecoflame International Inc. as a Green Product & Service Directory partner. Ecoflame markets a sugar cane-based ethanol, nontoxic heating gel for use in the hospitality, restaurant and catering industries. Ecoflame Gel burns clean and is safe. As most other chafing fuel heating products are derivatives of petroleum and natural gas, they produce poisonous emissions of carbon monoxide, are carcinogenic, include dioxin, and are finite resources. Ecoflame Gel is a renewable resource with no poisonous emissions and is packaged in refillable and recyclable steel cans. For more information, call (416) 694-7587, e-mail tfmyyountville@aol.com, or go to www.ecogel.com.

Green Lodging News Advertising

Green Lodging News ad spots are selling fast. Be sure to call me at (440) 243-2055 to discuss your advertising plans for the remainder of 2009. A 2009 media kit is now available by request or by clicking here. Thank you to all of those companies that consistently support Green Lodging News.

Green Lodging News Blog & Twitter

Be sure to bookmark the Green Lodging News Blog in your browser. The address for the blog is http://greenlodgingnews.blogspot.com. More importantly, participate with your comments. Green Lodging News is also now on Twitter. To follow my postings, go to http://twitter.com/greenlodging. Be sure to add Green Lodging News to those tweets that you follow. Green Lodging News now has 160 Twitter followers.

As always, I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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